Twig Tips by Jodie

Posted on October 28, 2016 by jo

Fruity in the Fall

OK, you just KNEW that I was going to write a little something about fruits and berries this fall.  Had to.  What would fall be without them? It seems that we have a tendency to focus on blooms when choosing plants for our landscape, obsessing about when they bloom, what color, how's ALL about the flowers.  BUT, in some cases, the fruits of a shrub or tree can far surpass the beauty of its flowers and should be taken into consideration.  The color of the fruit and the length of time that they remain on the plant is important.  Often times, the effect of the fruit lasts much longer than the flowers. 

One of the things we have to remember when choosing plants for their fruiting is if they need a "partner".  Some plants are dioecious, which means each plant is either a female or a male.  Hollies are a perfect example.  We've got Blue Boy, Blue Girl, China Boy, China Girl...this list goes on.  Only the female will fruit.  Other plants like crabapples and viburnums have both the female and male flowers on one plant but need to cross-polinate with another plant of the same species to fruit well.  Plants will often fruit well one year, then not so well the next.  This is just Mother Nature doing her thing, don't blame yourself.  Weather can often be to blame and we can't control that (not yet, at least...I wish somebody would get on that).

1)The Hollies Did you know that hollies came in both evergreen and deciduous species?  I love them both.  We think about the evergreen varieties for the beauty they can bring to our Christmas holiday season but it is the deciduous native variety called Winterberry that is the most striking.  Wow.  They like to grow in wetter conditions, so if you have a low spot in your yard, this is a great plant to use.  The fruit seems to hang on for weeks.  It comes in both a red-fruited variety and a yellow-fruited one which is very unusual. 

2) The Viburnums There are a vast number of species of viburnum, some of them more noted for fruiting than others.  The most famous?  The American Cranberry Viburnum, of course.  The fruiting varies between the species, with fruit being anywhere from black to blue to red.  Sometimes they will start out black and turn to red, and will end up with a mix of colors in the same cluster.  That can be very interesting looking as seen in this picture of a Mohican Viburnum.  Love the Viburnums, the birds do too!


3) Crabapples and Hawthorns No discussion on fruiting would be complete without mentioning both Crabapple and Hawthorn trees.  With names like Red Jewel Crabapple and Winter King Hawthorn, it is almost a guarantee that you will enjoy fruiting every fall and winter.  The fruit tends to hang on, often times the birds will not bother with it until late in the winter.  I looked out and saw a hudred robins in my hawthorn in February, cleaning up the fruit.  EVERY landscape needs one of these beauties. 

If you don't have anything that has showy berries and fruit in your yard, you are missing the boat.  Spring is a beautiful season, but by adding plants to your landscape that have interest during the other times of the year, you won't be sad when those spring blooms are over because you will have the gorgeous berries to look forward to later in the year.  So plant Mr. and Mrs. Holly today, you won't be sorry!

NOT off to hug my hawthorn tree (even though I love it, darn those thorns!) - Jodie


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