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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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Thursday - May 20, 2010

From: Allen, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Transplants, Trees
Title: Why doesn't my Possum Haw have berries this year?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

A possumhaw holly has no berries as of mid-May. I planted this possumhaw last summer - it had lots of berries. Why would it have no berries this year? This spring I have two yaupons with lots of berries, 6 carissa hollies, and 6 dwarf yaupons all within 100 feet of the possumhaw. The possumhaw lost many of its leaves and all of its berries last summer shortly after planting due to sunburn and too little water. It appears healthy now with a full set of leaves and new growth.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks that you and your possumhaw are experiencing transplant shock. This is common in many plants when the come from their nice cozy pot, and are placed in a hole in the yard. The first order of business for the plant is to get a root system established in order to support the leaves on the upper portions of the plant. You made the job harder by planting in the summer and not adequately watering the plant. The leaves and berries didn't have sufficient water, and fell off. The plant probably didn't flower this year, but the showing of leaves is an encouraging sign that the plant is recovering. However, you still have a stressed plant in your yard. It is important that the plant receive adequate water, but no fertiliser this year.

I've included two websites that thoroughly cover tree planting and transplant shock: one is from the University of Kentucky  (scroll down to find the Transplant shock portion) and the other is from treesaregood.org.

This answer to a previous question covers a situation similar to yours.

 

From the Image Gallery


Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

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