Winter Berry Production

I have a holly bush in my garden that usually produces lovely red berries in the fall and winter. This year there are only a few berries. What happened?

I’m often asked why a plant doesn’t produce berries and typically it could be one of three reasons.

Some plants have to have a male and a female to produce fruit. The shrub may be a pollen producing plant, or a male plant. Or the plant may be a female but no male plant is close enough to pollinate the flowers. Many hollies need a male pollinator within 300 feet to produce berries.

Another reason for little or no berries is bad weather and bees. Bees won’t go to work unless the temperature is in the high 50s and this means your flowers won’t get pollinated. If your flowers don’t get pollinated then you won’t have berries.

A third reason for low berry production is that some plants just take a break. They need a rest. One year they might produce a lot and the next year, perhaps none at all. This maybe caused by lack of nutrition. After the last freeze date in your area give your holly a little boost with a slow release, all-purpose fertilizer. This will provide nutrients for up to 8 months. You can find this at any garden center. Just follow the directions on the packaging.