Asked October 22, 2016, 10:27 AM EDT
No berries the past couple years but 2 of the 3 shrubs fill out nicely while the one in the middle seems more slow to grow. I remember buying all 3 at a professional garden store and planting them according to the advice and the berries came every year.
Anoka County Minnesota
Thank you for the question. Fruit will only be produced on winterberry female shrubs when there are both male and female shrubs located near each other. Presumably the nursery where you purchased them made sure you got both male and female plants but maybe not. It's possible that you have all female plants and a male was growing nearby that succeeded in pollinating your plants since you have gotten berries in the past. Perhaps the pollinating winterberry was removed or died and that's why your plants don't berry.
It's also possible your slower growing shrub is a male and is getting the short end of the stick when it comes to water, sun and nutrients if the other two are really growing well. It may not be blooming because of this and therefore not able to pollinate the other two.
Another option is that berries are produced but the birds strip them in a day or two before you even get a chance to notice them!
The other option might be too few pollinators to transfer the pollen from the male to female plants.
Read our publication on growing winterberry in Minnesota. If you are sure you have both male and female plants, try transplanting the dwindling one early next spring to see if you have better luck.
Thank you for contacting Extension.
Thank you so much for all the information....it all makes good sense and I will go from there! ;-)