Sparkleberry holly needs a male pollinator

The bright red berries of winterberry holly are eye-catching in winter. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
The bright red berries of winterberry holly are eye-catching in winter. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Walter Reeves

Credit: Walter Reeves

Q: I have a Sparkleberry in a public garden where I volunteer. The male tree has died and been removed. Could yaupon holly pollinate it? Patty DiVito, Virginia Beach, Virginia

A: It’s not likely that yaupon holly, Ilex vomitoria, would work. It’s not very close, species-wise, to Sparkleberry, Ilex ‘Sparkleberry’. ‘Apollo’ is a good male holly for a female Sparkleberry (aka winterberry), but it is always possible some random holly in the neighborhood might contribute enough pollen to your Sparkleberry to make it bear the bright red berries for which it’s famous.

Q: I have goji berry bushes that are 3 years old. However, the flowers didn’t bloom until September. The bumblebees had tons of fun in them, but I got no fruit. Tomas Valenti, email

A: Goji berry, Lycium barbarum, has been heavily promoted as a health-giving fruit. It is native to Asia. The small one in my backyard flowers at least a couple of times every year. Fertilizing can retard flowering, so don’t feed yours unless the leaves turn pale yellow in late spring. You will just have to wait and see what happens next year.

Q: I have a young Brown Turkey fig that I planted in the wrong place. Can you tell me when and how I should move this plant? Jan Wright, Alpharetta

A: Wait until all the leaves have fallen off. Dig a foot-deep trench around the roots, 2 feet out from the main stem. Push a flat shovel underneath the roots from all directions. Consider washing soil from the roots with a hose. This will make them easier to find and gently pull out of the ground. Continue until you can grab the main stem and pull the root mass out of the ground completely. Don’t worry if there’s not much soil around the roots. You want to have as many roots as possible to come with the plant. Lug it over to the new spot and plant at the same height as it was originally. The transplanting should be completely successful and you’ll have figs next year.

Q: I’m on the hunt for an “old style” gardenia that graced the yards of my youth. They were large shrubs and were loaded with overpoweringly fragrant blooms. They were occasionally killed back to the roots in severe cold but always came back. The gardenias I have don’t seem to smell as good as the old ones. Mark Roberts, Birmingham, Alabama

A: My money is on Gardenia jasminoides ‘Aimee Yashioka’. It is a big shrub and the fragrance is intense. It has ivory-white, double blooms that can reach 4 to 5 inches across. Since you probably have room for only one shrub, search carefully online. Contact the grower to be sure you get exactly the shrub you want.

Listen to Walter Reeves' segments at 6:35 a.m. on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website,, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at for more garden tips.

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