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Sexing holly

Joy*Joy* Posts: 571
Hello everyone. I hope that you are all well and enjoying this lovely gardening weather. It's a nuisance to be watering so early in the year but the sunshine is worth it.
My query is about holly. It has taken me 7 years to find a yellow berried holly in a nursery to replace the one I left in my previous garden! In order to get berries I bought a second plant which I was assured was male. A flower has just opened and you can see the tiny berry so I assume it is female. It's Blue Angel. I'm now searching for a male but without success. One local nursery has a Silver Queen which is male but when I spoke to the owner, he said that it had berries on it. Do you think that it is a male plant? I thought that Jan van Tol was the only self fertile holly.
Many thanks for your help.


  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,151
    Silver queen is male and doesn't berry (I have one, it had to be cut back hard last year but is normally covered in flowers at this time of year), so if the nursery owner has one with berries on it's wrongly labelled. Blue Angel is female. If there are hollies that berry well anywhere close by (wild or in other gardens) then there's a male around somewhere nearby too. This website has pics of the male and female flowers so if you go to a nursery while they're in flower, you could check.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 77,491
    This company is a very reputable supplier of hollies  with a good selection of male hollies
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Joy*Joy* Posts: 571
    Thank you to you both. Sadly our new house is on a new development where the majority of people don't do much with their gardens. Our next door neighbours have recently planted a female holly and didn't know that they needed a male for it to continue having berries! At my old house I had an ancient hedge which had lots of hollies in it, many self sets, and it was always exciting when the first flowers opened, to see if they were female! I never imagined that getting a male holly would be so difficult but I suppose most people want one with berries and many don't realise that they aren't self fertile. 
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,151
    If you can get hold of a proper Silver Queen, it's very decorative in its own right and would pollinate your neighbour's female holly as well as yours. Bees love it when it's in flower.
  • MarlorenaMarlorena East AngliaPosts: 6,399
    A little reading of those links gives us the answer... your own Holly is in the Ilex meserveae class, which means you should get another in the same group... therefore Ilex meserveae 'Blue Prince' is the male you need.. it appears to be readily available..

    The tiny berry you see will not produce a fruit unless it's pollinated when it opens..
  • Joy*Joy* Posts: 571
    Hello Marlorena. My yellow berried holly is Ilex aquifolium 'bacciflava' which is the variety I had before. Pollination was never a problem because there were so many wild hollies. (It did so well that I had to keep lopping it back to keep it down!) The new owner chopped it down sadly and much of the hedge has gone or been seriously trimmed. It's a shame as it was a popular nesting site for birds. But, such is life!
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 14,170
    your own Holly is in the Ilex meserveae class, which means you should get another in the same group

    So, we have to get a male and female in the same group only?

  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,151
    Blue Angel is a meserveae type, but the yellow-berried one that @Joy* wants to pollinate probably isn't.
  • MarlorenaMarlorena East AngliaPosts: 6,399
    oh ok, I thought you wanted one for your Blue Angel in particular, sorry for the misread on my part..  in that case as Jennyj advised, you could try Silver Queen, but perhaps not the one your local nursery has,  or Blue Prince which is also supposed to be a good pollinator..  I would think either would do, rather than get one of each, for both female Ilex that you have there.. does say on one of those links that the best pollinator is one from the same group as the one you have, however I've not read elsewhere of such a necessity, so either one of the males should be sufficient I would have thought..
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,151
    I feel I should apologise to @Joy* in case we've made it sound more complicated than it needs to be :( .  Being on a new development, my guess is the garden isn't huge so go for whichever male you most like the look of, no need for two unless you want them.
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