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tfinne_gw

Ilex-MerryBerry

tfinne
16 years ago

I purchased several Ilex MerryBerry hollies for a great price at Home Depot last year and the tag says that this plant is both male and female so it does not need a pollinator. I researched other forums and have never seen any info on this. Does anyone have any info on this plant.

Comments (14)

  • selkie_b
    16 years ago

    I have one and have heard the same. Won't know for a long while yet - they grow EXTREMELY slowly!

    -Marie

  • leftwood
    16 years ago

    Of course for all Ilex species, plants are either male or female. But with some male and female plants, there can be a rare glitch. I know of none in this group with flowers that are both male and female (as most flowers are) that would be needed for pollination. However on rare occasions, and usually confined to certain cultivars, there will be a mutated branch(es) or branchlet(s).

    This particular mutation is not one that could be easily discerned, as the only difference is that it has mutated to the opposite sex of the rest of the plant. Consequently, the same plant has both male flowers and female flowers and pollination can occur.

    I can only assume that this is what will happen with MerryBerry holly. The plant is female, and hopefully will throw out male mutations now and then. Then your plant will have the propensity to produce berries.

    Knowing this, if you decide to prune your plant that has fruited before, you may prune off the only one or few male mutations on the plant. The plant will not produce berries again until it mutates male again and produces male flowers.

    I don't know about the cold hardiness of this holly up here, and it may be very slow growing for Marie because it is marginal in our climate. But if and when it produces berries, those are the for sure female branches. Branches that don't have berries could be either sex. The flowers themselves look pretty much the same, and you need to disect them for male/female differentiation. Hollies do like acid humusy soils and ample moisture, and in Minnesota, shade from winter sun.

  • selkie_b
    16 years ago

    Hi leftwood! Been awhile :)

    It's a newer cultivar - supposedly hardy in zone 4. It's funny - a deciduous holly! Tough little thing, I have it in a pretty rough spot in my side garden (the one at the top of the slope facing the side street) so it's in semi-shade a lot of the time. Seems to be alive, though it drops it's leaves (normal for it I understand) and puts out new in spring which probably accounts for it growing even more slowly than a normal holly. And as you well know they are SLOW for growth in height. It's cute! I think you are right that it is a mutant female, that would make a lot of sense. I've had mine over a full year now, this is it's second winter, so this spring will really tell me what it's going to do.

    -Marie

  • leftwood
    16 years ago

    It occurred to me that there could be another possibility. It could be parthenocarpic, meaning it sets fruit without producing seed. If this is the case, it is female, and never male.

    I've seen Merry Berry at HD the last few years. They don't look deciduous to me, and Holly Ridge lists it as evergreen.
    http://cat.hollyridgeonline.com/h.html
    I think your plant is experiencing a hardy life than you thought Marie. There are plants that are evergreen further south and deciduous here, some viburnums, for example. But I don't think this could be one of those. What's that? I think I here your holly saying "More winter shade, please."

  • tedb_threecedarfarm
    16 years ago

    You never know what crazy things plants might do. Bailey's is about to introduce a new Bittersweet (another species that normally bears male and female flowers on separate plants) called 'Autumn Revolution'. My understanding is the flowers are perfect, having both male and female parts, and self fertile.

    Ted

  • selkie_b
    16 years ago

    *LAUGH* Leftwood - it's buried in SNOW right now!

    Couldn't be MORE shaded!

    -Marie

  • selkie_b
    16 years ago

    ... It could simply have been stress too from transplant last year. I'll know when it thaws out in spring this year!

    -Marie

  • tom_mn
    16 years ago

    I would assume this is another version of BerriMagic, in which a male and female are planted together in the same pot. I can grow a Blue Princess in the sun with good results, but its hubby Blue Prince dies back and looks awful.

  • selkie_b
    16 years ago

    tom, nope - it's one plant.

    -Marie

  • tfinne
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Wow. Thanks for all the info, Leftwood. I'll just have to wait and see. I have 5 now and all still have their leaves but are mostly covered with snow.
    I also am thinking of planting a mixed low hedge of Ilex verticillata Nana red sprite and charming fantasy snowberry(symphoricarpos 'kolcharm'). The sprite would be in partial shade and the snowberries in mostly shade under the edge of a crimson maple.
    Nearby, I will plant 2 jim dandy and 1 berry heavy and 2 blue muffin. I would also like to squezze in a couple of cardinal candy viburnums and a southerland golden elderberry. Looking for any advise on any of these shrubs.
    Thanks very much.

  • leftwood
    16 years ago

    Of course, Blue Muffins need to pollinated by another compatible viburnum, even though their flowers are complete(both male and female). Search for:
    viburnum pollination blue
    (no quotes)in the shrub forum. You will find which ones will work. Candy viburnums might work. I just don't know, but you will need something.

    Ilex verticillata should have acidic soil (but doesn't need it quite as much as blueberries). If you live in a lot where the ground has been reworked by bulldozers, you will certainly need to ammend it.

    Is "berry heavy" really "Heavy Berry" holly? If so, that's a different species of Ilex and won't pollinate or be pollinated by the others. Heavy Berry is a very old Ilex opaca cultivar, and one of the cold hardiest, but may not make it up here. It is evergreen and again, acidy soil.

  • tom_mn
    16 years ago

    I did a web search, and it's parthenocarpic, a female that doesn't require a male for fruit (what fun is that?).

    I think that selkie's plant is an evergreen that looses its leaves due to stress. My experience with broadleaf evergreens in MN is that nearly all of the winter burn occurs in March when the sun is strong but the soil still frozen. That's when the shade is needed.

    I tried Wiltpruf this fall for the first time and I will evaluate my hollies in the spring for improvement on winter burn.

  • leftwood
    16 years ago

    My experience with broadleaf evergreens in MN is that nearly all of the winter burn occurs in March

    So true! That is, if they make it through the winter. I have often wondered if this is because the ground is still frozen (making water uptake difficult), or because the roots have been cold damaged. I would suspect that those that take a long time to get going in the spring have damaged roots. Those that sprout in a timely manner merely have winter and/or very early spring sun problems.

    And of course not all broadleaf evergreens are so susceptible. There are many rock hardy ones when sited correctly.

  • selkie_b
    16 years ago

    I'll keep an eye on that spot then - as it IS spring that that location gets it's brightest light.

    Thanks!
    -Marie

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