winterberry holly: what happened to the berries?

terratoma(7a)October 19, 2013

As opposed to the huge number of berries on my 'Red Sprite' winterberries last fall (when I planted them), the berries thus far have been few. Am wondering if any of the following can explain this.

1. Much more precipitation than usual during the summer. (I thought this plant favored somewhat soggy conditions, however.)
2. Soil pH remained at 6.2 when I tested it again last spring.
3. I fertilized only one time (early May) with a slow release type. (I've received various tips on fertilizing: don't fertilize; fertilize only in spring; fertilize only in the fall; and, fertilize in both spring and fall.)
4. They are kept mulched with pine needles.
5. Had a mild summer and fall thus far. The temps have only recently dropped to a high in the mid-sixties but cooler/cold weather is expected soon.

Please note that the 'Red Sprites' are all within 16' of a 'Jim Dandy' pollinator.
All responses appreciated!.

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The answer to your question is in your post (when I planted them)
It is only normal that newly planted shrubs put their energy into rooting in and becoming established. From this point on they will resume making flowers, if the flowers are pollinated they will make fruit.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 4:03PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Yes, agree with what Sam said. There's always a stress associated with planting and re-establishment. (well, with almost any sort of plant, perhaps not all of them)
FWIW, due to this wet spring & summer, my old American holly trees have an absolutely bumper crop of berries that are just turning red now. Best I've ever seen in the years I've lived here.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 7:23PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Did you observe that your Red Sprites bloomed this spring? If so, did they bloom at the same time as the Jim Dandy?

It's weird because even some of my 'stud' male hollies which are supposed to bloom at the correct time, don't. Some get more sun or shade than the female and even that seems to throw the bloom time off just a bit.

But likely it's what Sam said.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 2:27PM
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All depends on weather conditions. Last year I had few berries on my 'Red Sprite', this year it's loaded. 'Jim Dandy' is about the same distance away as the OP's.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 11:25AM
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All of our Red Sprites have tons of berries this year and this is their 3rd growing season. Usually the berries are eaten by animals or fall off early but all our berries are still intact. Btw...I tasted one of the berries and they taste sweet at first but turn bitter so they aren't very good...

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 9:57PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

(I've received various tips on fertilizing: don't fertilize; fertilize only in spring; fertilize only in the fall; and, fertilize in both spring and fall.)


as noted.. many times.. transplant shock ...

flowering and berries will resume.. when the plant is fully established ... whenever that may be... but it should be next year ...

IF soil pH is important.. then act accordingly to amend the soil.. it is NOT adjusted thru fertilizing..

THE ONLY PEEPS WHO RECOMMEND FERT.. IS PEEPS WHO SELL IT ... this thing should NEVER need fertilizer again ... ever ...

but do note.. i differentiate food from pH ... do not get confused regarding such ...

excessive fertilizer... of the wrong type.. and i would never waste money on time release for a shrub ... basically to much nitro.. will force excessive green growth.. over flowering ... but again.. that is not what is happening here.. its the transplant ...

just remember.. they are shrubs.. not children ... they do not need to be fed .. ever ... [unless you live in some barren moonscape where nothing can live for lack of soil fertility .. which i doubt ]

good luck


    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 7:33AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i cant reply to GWeb emails .... if you dont allow emails on your members page ...

trees/conifers/shrubs.. in pots.. need fert.. because watering flushes out the good stuff in the media ...

i just dont see where any of the named plants NEED anything from you.. but water.. to get over the fact you transplanted them ...

are you suggesting.. your county is barren of native plants.. for lack of feeding..

your county soil so sterile.. that nothing you plant will survive without you juicing them???

listen.. i am a cheap SOB... i am leery.. of anything the guy sells, who recommends it ... its nonsense.. that plants are like children..and need to be fed ..

that said.. a little of this or that wont hurt anything.. they just dont NEED it ...

also.. if planting under aggressive trees.. such as maples.. when you dig a hole.. you sever maple roots.. and they will grow new feeder roots into your plant.. more so.. if you put plant food there.. and if your plant fails.. its usually from the maple sucking the life/water out of the soil ... in other words.. you fed the tree.. not your plant ...

transplant are stressed.. from the transplant.. water helps them grow the roots .. to get over it.. feeding them does NOT help them get over it ...

do whatever you want... but do it for the right reason ... rather than some gut feeling.. that you need to feed your children.. plants are not children ...


    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 9:53AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I learned years ago not to fertilize my trees in the ground. Like Ken says, you will get a lot of excessive new growth. You're probably thinking that is exactly what you growth, and lots of it.

The downside is bugs love that excessive , tender, new growth and they will chew it all to Hell, disfiguring the plant. Even if they don't, the tree will grow into an unnatural shape with all the new growth fighting for space. The eventual losers in this race will result in a lot of dead twigs.
I don't even fertilize my plants in pots unless they have been in the pot for over two years. I make my own potting media that lasts for at least a year. After that I transplant the plants into a larger pot.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 12:19PM
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