All too often I hear people complain that they bought a particular plant specifically for its fruit or berries, only to be disappointed that they produced neither. Even though the plant was grown in ideal conditions, there was no production, so the gardener blames himself or herself. What these gardeners didn’t realize is that some plants are dioecious plants meaning they produce female and male flowers on separate plants. The female plants produce the berries and fruit but require a male plant nearby to produce the pollen for pollination. Usually one male plant will suffice for several female plants, but they must be grown in close proximity.
Unfortunately when purchasing these plants the nursery often fails to educate the gardener on the issue of dioecious plants. Other plants also have both female and male flower parts in the same flower, but require the pollen from another seedling of the same species to cross pollinate, and set the fruit. This is often the case with edible fruits but does occur in ornamentals as well.
Knowing this simple fact when you go shopping for your favourite fruits and berries will save you a lot of frustration and disappointment. Be sure to do your homework and ask the nurseryman at your garden centre for help. Plants should be well marked at the garden centre with a female or male tag. You will need to purchase one of each and plant them in the same general area.
Below is a list of some of the plants that fall into this category:
Malus (apples and crab apples)
Viburnum Pyrus (pears)
American Bittersweet Vine
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