When does a holly tree get berries?

Written by peter timm
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When does a holly tree get berries?
Holly berries are tenacious and stay on the trees through spring. (Eivaisla/iStock/Getty Images)

Holly trees are slow growing trees with a life expectancy of roughly 100 years. Holly trees typically produce vibrant-red berries that are very popular as Christmas decorations.The trees grow to a height between 4.5 to 9 metres (15 to 30 feet) with foliage that is usually column-like. Under the proper conditions, holly trees usually produce berries once a year.

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When to expect berries

Holly trees will begin to produce flowers and berries in their fourth or fifth year. The arrival of berries normally occurs in mid-autumn. The berries are approximately 6.5 mm (1/4 inch) in diameter and red, although yellow berries are found on some varieties of holly tree. They are a common food source for birds, squirrels and other animals during winter.

Ideal growing conditions

For a holly tree to produce berries, the presence of female and male holly trees nearby is required for pollination. Only female trees have the capability of producing berries. If your tree is devoid of berries, there are two probable explanations -- either the tree is a male or there is not a male tree close enough to produce seeds on the female tree.

Planting requirements

When landscaping your property with hollies, carefully consider the planting location for your trees. To produce berries, you need to have at least one male tree for every three to eight female trees. The male tree needs to be within 92 metres (300 feet) of the females. If a male tree is not available, graft a male tree branch onto a female plant and this will result in berries.

Holly tree care

Holly trees are generally considered low maintenance plants but do require some basic upkeep. Mature holly trees usually do not require additional watering unless the ground is particularly dry or before the first freeze of the winter. You can lightly prune your tree throughout the year, but try to avoid heavy pruning since it can adversely affect the production of berries. Any major pruning should be done in the winter, usually December, when the plant is dormant. When pruning your tree, make sure that the lower branches are kept longer than the higher ones.

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