Determining Holly Tree Sex

magnusmossMay 11, 2010

How do I determine the sex of holly?

I purchased a small holly tree with silver edged leaves one Christmas, and when the season ended, planted it outside. Contrary to all predictions of the USDA zone map, this particularly un "cold tolerant" variety of holly survived. It is now five feet high. The thing is, I understand many varieties of holly come in "male and female" and you only get berries if you have a male and a female plant growing together.


1.) How do I determine if this tree is male or female, to get it a life partner of appropriate sex?

2.) Can anyone tell me exactly what variety of holly this was?

3.) How close together do the male and female trees have to be?

4.) I saw "Blue Princess" Holly trees at home Depot. Are these enough like the silver tipped holly bush I have to interbreed and produce berries?

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

a pic here or in the name that plant forum will probably get you an ID ... and a latin name.. upon which you can probably develop more info ...

seriously???? life partner... OMG... lol


    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 4:46PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Just guessing, but you probably got a small Ilex aquifolium argentea marginata. Did it look sort of like this? My guess is these are probably grown from cuttings of female plants, since berry production is valued. We have one at our home and it does get some berries. Not sure, but if you can get a male I. aquifolium to pollinate, you might get better berry production. I do not know if these are self-fertile.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 8:22AM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

How do I determine the sex of holly?

By looking at the flowers. Or using the cultivar name.

Until you know the sex, you can't purchase the homogenous consumer product at Home Depot to match ('Blue Princess' naturally being a female cultivar). As to the distance, they can usu. be in the same yard, they don't have to be next to each other.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 8:37AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

It looks rather like Ilex aquifolium 'Silver Queen'. Do you get those in the States? Just for confusion it is a male cultivar.

Here is a link that might be useful: Silver Queen holly.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 12:26PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I'd expect a silver holly sold in a pot for Christmas to be 'Argentea Marginata', but many different English hollies have been named and introduced over the years. Each type of variation - in this case white edged leaves - has been represented by multiple separate selections.

One more recent introduction, originating with Lake County Nursery, in Ohio is being promoted as "A proven winter survivor where similar varieties have failed".

Here is a link that might be useful: Ilex aquifolium 'Sadezam'

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 1:55PM
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It does closely resmble "dave_in_nova"'s picture. The new leaves are sorta red. It doesn't have flowers right now, so I can't check those. I'm thinking of just buying a male holly at Home Depot and sticking it nearby,just to see.

I've tried to post a picture, but the picture I have is too big.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 12:16AM
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I've done that with HD male holly's, (Blue Prince to pollinate my Blue Princesses), but make sure you match the timing of buds and blooms on both to be sure you get the pollination right. I have found that at HD, they are blooming ahead of the ones I have in the garden. May take a few trips to different HDs/Lowes.

The girls flowers have a small dot-sphere in the middle of the flower that will be the future berry. The boys flowers have none.

Before I knew that, I ended up purchasing a labelled Blue Prince and planted it in an out of the way Boy spot. That fall I was surprised to find berries on the boy!!! So you can't even go by labels in some places. The flower ID is critical.

I think the next spring I purchased 2 boys but didn't plant them right away. I moved them around in pots for a couple of years to all my girls. I eventually planted them when I was sure of everything. Or did I return them after pollination ??? LOL No, but I think I thought about it!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 9:29AM
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I'm trying to post a picture of it, but I'm having trouble.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 3:13PM
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