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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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Monday - April 23, 2012

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Propagation, Shrubs
Title: Male and female possumhaws for berries from Georgetown TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Do I need to plant two ilex decidua (possumhaws), a male and female to have red berries on the tree in the winter?

ANSWER:

Yes, the problem is going to be determining which is which. If you go to a nursery and the Ilex decidua (Possumhaw) all have berries, they are all females. Very often, nursery plants are propagated by cloning, which means every offspring will be the same sex. If you go to the nursery in Spring, the possumhaw will all have flowers, but that still doesn't tell you anything, they could be either sex. We are told that very skilled botanists with magnifying glasses can identify sex from examination of the flowers, but we aren't of that category.

If you ask for one male and one female at the nursery, they may have them but they may not know what you are talking about. When you see the possumhaws with berries, they may have been pollinated by male shrubs before the females ever left the greenhouse where they were propagated.

Here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants article on this subject. The rule is that there must be a male of the same species and blooming at the same time somewhere close enough for the bees to pollinate.

 

From the Image Gallery


Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

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