How to Plant Male & Female Holly Bushes

Updated February 21, 2017

Holly shrubs are a beautiful evergreen or deciduous plant that have a variety of applications which will suit even the fussiest gardeners. Unbeknown to most gardeners, both deciduous and evergreen holly has the ability to produce berries. Even less traditional varieties of holly, Japanese holly for example, can produce berries. Almost all holly varieties require a male and a female plant of the same species in order for berry production and in some varieties the pollination can be even more plant specific.

Locate a variety of holly that will satisfy your individual landscaping needs. For instance, if you are looking for an emerald coloured evergreen holly to plant in partial shade, look for varieties like Blue Prince or Blue Princess (Ilex x. meserveae). If you are looking for a larger treelike variety that is not evergreen, look for a variety of winterberry (Ilex deciduas).

Choose a pollinator. If you want your holly to produce berries, you need to provide it with a pollinator. Pollination differs among the different species of holly but many hollies (especially the x. meserveae hybrids) are named in a way that might clue you in. For instance, if you have a Blue Princess holly then you will want to use a Blue Prince holly as a pollinator. However, for many types of evergreen, holly pollination is not exclusive. Therefore, a China Boy holly will pollinate a Blue Princess holly; a Blue Maid holly will pollinate a China girl holly, and so on. If you choose a deciduous variety of holly, also known as winterberry, you will need to find the specific pollinator. Most garden centres will carry a male and female pollinator.

Plant the holly. In order for the best pollination to occur, the male holly should be within a quarter acre of the female holly. Thus, you do not have to plant a male and a female holly directly next to each other for pollination to occur. Of course, there is nothing wrong with planting a male and a female next to each other but remember that the females are the only ones that produce berries. Therefore, for general planning purposes you will want to take into account how a male holly of the same general characteristics will look when planted next to a female holly covered in berries.


Always make sure to amend the soil as needed and establish a regular watering schedule after planting.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Soil amendments
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About the Author

Writing out of Hamden, Conn., Kyle Lanning is a full-time student who has been writing at the collegiate level for the past five years and has been published extensively on eHow. Lanning currently holds a B.S. in business management from Clarkson University and is pursuing a J.D. at Quinnipiac University School of Law.