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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Tuesday - September 02, 2008

From: Chippewa Falls, WI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Planting instructions for Ilex verticillata in Wisconsin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a winterberry tree and we would like to grow another one in a different area. Can we transplant part of that or do we need to start from scratch? How would we know what the male plant looks like? When is the best time to plant? What would we need from the orginal tree?

ANSWER:

The male of the Ilex verticillata (common winterberry) has no berries. In Wisconsin, the best time to plant is early Spring, when the soil begins to warm. It is probably a little late to plant it now, as an early frost could damage or kill the little plant. You must have both a male and female plant to have berries. The male must be the same species as the female and bloom at the same time. Because hollies are such popular landscape plants, it may be worth the risk to plant a female and hope there is a male nearby.

Plants can be propagated by taking cuttings from the original plant. The problem is, it will probably be four to five years before any of the plants are ready to bloom and have berries. You would have to take and cultivate a number of cuttings to assure having one or more viable plants result. This article, Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings (North Carolina State University Horticulture Information Leaflets) will give you the information you need about what part of the plant to take cuttings from and when to do it.

 

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