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Wednesday - September 24, 2008

From: Silver Spring, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Propagation
Title: Follow-up on Viburnum dentatum question
Answered by: Nan Hampton


This is a follow up to an earlier question, posted Sept 20, about Viburnum dentatum shrubs. I'm not sure I understand your answer. If the person having trouble getting berries went out and bought a Viburnum dentatum from an entirely different nursery several year later, and planted it nearby would they have a chance of avoiding the clone problem? (I have to admit the first question came from me, too!) The first time around I bought five of the cultivar "Blue Muffin." TThis time I'm thinking I should go to a small native plant nursery and look for one that isn't a cultivar. I have more space for another shrub right next to the hedgerow. Would that work? I want the berries because I want to feed birds. Thanks so much for the help.


In reference to your first question, it does sound like you have a self-incompatibility problem since all your plants were bought at the same time and were the same "Blue Muffin" cultivar. Many plants exhibit self-incompatibility—a genetic trait produced by a gene that creates a chemical barrier when the pollen of a genetically identical plant falls on the carpel (female part). This chemical barrier prohibits the pollen from fertilizing the ovules and there will be no fruit.  V. dentatum plants are commonly propagated vegetatively from cuttings.  If they are propagated from the same stock, such as your cultivar "Blue Muffin" must have been, they are going to be genetically identical—in other words, clones.  So, you do need at least one plant that isn't a clone of your "Blue Muffin" plants to produce pollen that won't be chemically barred from fertilizing your flowers. The University of Connecticut site lists 8 cultivars of V. dentatum, including your "Blue Muffin", so there are other possibilities.  I recommend that you visit our National Suppliers Directory and enter your city to find nurseries in your area that specialize in native plants.  You can visit their websites (if they list one) and/or telephone them to find out what cultivars they carry of V. dentatum.  Just to be on the safe side you might buy two completely different cultivars to plant.

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