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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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Thursday - October 22, 2009

From: Westchester, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Winterberry holly not fruiting
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Regarding Ilex verticillata, which I have planted in a partial sun, somewhere between all dry and all wet location, i don't see any red berries, and it's mid-october. We are in the 'burbs of just outside NYC. When they were planted a year ago, they did have a few berries on the branches. It has been a wet, wet, wet summer and fall for that matter. Any help would be appreciated.

ANSWER:

All Ilex plants are dioecious, which means that the male and female parts of the flowers are on different plants.  That means that in order to have holly berries there must be a male holly blooming within a pollinator's reach of a female plant.

When you planted your plant it had berries on it as a result of it having been pollinated in the spring at the nursery where the "boys" were close by.  As long as you know the name of the cultivar you purchased, the nursery where you bought it should be able to provide you with the appropriate male plant. Once you have the male, you should be back in the berry business as it sounds like the plant is happy otherwise and placed in the right environment to thrive.

Ilex verticillata (common winterberry)


Ilex verticillata
 

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