According to the Virginia Cooperative Extension, "most hollies, whether deciduous or evergreen, require a male plant as a pollinator to insure fruit set." Male holly plants will never produce berries, but one male holly will provide enough pollen for 20 female hollies. Bees cross-pollinate the hollies. For the optimal number of holly berries, plant males and females of the same species, with the male holly in the center of the group. Popular species are American holly (Ilex opaca), English holly (IIex aquifolium), and Winterberry (Ilex verticillata).
When and where to plant holly
Plant hollies from containers during any month as long as the ground allows you to dig a hole and you are able to water the new plant.
Plant a holly that comes from the nursery with its root ball wrapped in burlap, "balled-and-burlapped," between October and February, so long as the ground is not frozen.
Choose a site with well-draining soil. Amend soil that has too much sand or clay.
Dig the hole
Put on your garden gloves, pick up the shovel and begin to dig a hole.
Dig the hole 2 feet wide for a holly that will remain a shrub. If the holly will grow into a tree, dig the hole 3 feet wide.
Use your yardstick or tape measure to ascertain the width of the hole.
Measure the depth of the root ball or plant container.
Dig the hole deep enough to hold the entire root ball. The holly should not have soil piled up around its trunk.
Plant the holly
For holly in a container, use your garden knife or pruners to cut the sides of the container. Slide the plant out of the container. For balled-and-burlapped holly, use your garden knife or pruners to cut the rope or string wrapped around the root ball. Peel the burlap away from the root ball.
Hold the plant by the root ball and place it upright in the hole.
Turn on your hose and run water into the planting hole. Fill the hole with water and let it soak in completely, repeating once or twice.
Fill the hole to ground level with the soil that you dug out. Use your gloved hands to depress the soil in the hole and make a reservoir for water.
Top the hole with 2 or 3 inches of compost or mulch. Water well once a week.
About this Author
Daffodil Planter's writing appears in the Chicago Sun-Times, and she is the Sacramento Gardening Scene Examiner for Examiner.com. A member of the Garden Writers Association, she has a bachelor's degree from Stanford, a law degree from the University of Virginia and studies horticulture at Sierra College.