Greetings Friends!

This month's The Leaf in Brief is all about sex. Like people, plants engage in flings all summer long. We take a look at the monoecious and dioecious relationships between plants.

We decided to honor the deciduous holly, Winterberry, as the plant of the month, due to "Polar Vortices" making their way back into the news. We also share some interesting lore about Holly in the Leaf Lore section. The video for Garden Tips July is 'Summer Watering' from the Carrie's Quick Tips series on YouTube.

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In This Issue
Plant Lovin'
Plant of the Month

July Garden Tip
Leaf Lore

Retail Hours

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change August 1* 

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PLANT LOVIN' by Carrie Hennessy, Horticulturist/Landscape DesignerFA

Warning: The following article may not be appropriate for all viewers...unless you are a plant lover.


Wisconsin summers are like a tumultuous love affair. They can fluctuate from hot and steamy to cold and rainy in the course of one night. Did you know that summer love affairs are happening all around us in broad daylight? Plants everywhere are fornicating, right in front of us. Those pretty flowers in your yard aren't just decoration. Every bee, butterfly, and insect lured to the flowers are willing pawns to help plants copulate. Even the wind creates an orgy of pollination (unfortunately for people with allergies) picking up pollen particles and distributing them to a willing recipient.


For some, plant lovin' is a little more complicated. The world of plant sex is broken down into two groups: monoecious and dioecious.


Montmorency Cherry Tree 

Monoecious plants have male and female flowers and parts on the same plant. Literally it means "one house." Think of the male and female parts living in the same house. An example of this would be Tart Cherry Trees. You only need one Montmorency Cherry Tree in your yard to get fruit. Members of the Viburnum genus, however, may have male and female parts on the same plant, but are self-infertile. They've got all the parts, but need to have a second participant for it to be a real party. Perhaps you have a hedge of Blue Muffin™ Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum 'Blue Muffin') and wondered why you never get the bright blue berries. It's because the same cultivar can't pollinate itself. You'd need to include another cultivar into the hedge or somewhere else in the yard, like Autumn Jazz™ Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum 'Ralph Senior') in order for them to cross-pollinate successfully.


Mike Yanny lending a helping hand to this male and female Winterberry flower. 
have only male or only female flowers on an individual tree or shrub, or "two houses." Think of them like college dorms (dioecious and dorm both start with "d" so it's easy to remember). Ladies in one building and guys in another, before co-ed dorms existed. Hollies are a great example of this. Last month (June) I was sitting at my desk, typing an email, when our Senior Horticulturist, Mike Yanny, excitedly came in my office and said, "I figured out why we never get fruits on the group of Winterberries out front. Wanna see something cool?" Turns out when we planted a stand of native Winterberries (Ilex verticillata) years ago no one knew if they were male or female. In a group of 5 plants, you'd think at least one of them would have been female. Whether or not they have fruits isn't even a sure way to tell because the plant may not have reached puberty yet. The surest way to tell if they are male or female is when they are in flower, a brief duration in spring. Sure enough, Mike and I were standing in a sea of boy flowers, not a girl in sight. Then he took me out to our container production area and we could clearly see our stock of #3 containers in full bloom. There were the boys with their stamens swollen with yellow pollen and the girls with their plump, green pistils. Mike lent a helping hand and plucked a boy flower from a shrub and brushed it against a girl flower. Laughing, I covered my eyes and shook my head. All that was missing was a little Barry White music in the background.
  Male Winterberry Flowers 
Male left, Female right
Female Winterberry Flowers
Winterberry - Ilex verticillata
Mature Height: 6-10'      Mature Spread: 6-8'
Exposure: Full Sun to part shade. Zone: 4
Prefers moist to wet soil
Ilex verticillata 'Red Sprite' - Winter interest


Ilex verticillata     

You might wonder why we picked Winterberry as the Plant of the Month in July. With all the talk of Polar Vortices in July it seemed appropriate. As a result of that day in June with Mike Yanny in the production range (graphically detailed in the feature article), we now have our stock of seed-grown, native, local ecotype Winterberries sorted into boy and girl plants! Native enthusiasts rejoice! Any pot with a pink dot near the label indicates a female, no pink dot means a male. Typically you only need one boy Winterberry to pollinate 6-7 girl Winterberries. Tuck the male into the back of the group and keep the females to the front so you and the birds can enjoy the bright red fruits in winter.


There are also cultivars available that have the males and females as separate cultivars. Be sure to buy the ones that are meant to match with each other. Their flowers will bloom at the same time to ensure pollination.


Red Sprite Winterberry (female) matches with Jim Dandy Winterberry (male) and are dwarf cultivars.


Wildfire™ Winterberry (female) and Winter Red Winterberry (female) match with Southern Gentleman (male) Winterberry.

Carrie's Quick Tips
Watering Plants

Carrie discusses proper watering procedures for summer. Watch more.

Subscribe to Carrie's Quick Tips on YouTube and follow her on Facebook.
Ilex opaca - American Holly

Stems from Yaupon contain caffeine 
There are many different kinds of Holly native throughout North America. Winterberry is by far the hardiest species, found in the upper ranges of northern Michigan and into Ontario. American Holly (Ilex opaca) is native to the southeastern states, though some cultivars may survive into Zone 5. It can g
row to over 50 feet tall, and is the state tree of Delaware. It looks more like the classic images of holly at Christmas, being evergreen, and was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Andrew Jackson, who planted them at their estates. Another evergreen holly native to the south is Ilex vomitoria also known as Yaupon. The leaves and stems of Yaupon contain caffeine and were used in ceremonial drinks of Native American tribes. Large amounts of this tonic were consumed, combined with other plants and herbs, and then vomited. Yaupon leaves alone do not cause vomiting, but the unfortunate species name stuck anyway. The leaves can be dried and are still used by some people to make an eye-opening
caffeine-fueled tea. Yaup-on-at-em!

Carrie Hennessy at Knee Deep in Prairies 

August 13 -- 8AM-4PM -- Riveredge Nature Center 


Carrie Hennessy, Horticulturist and Professional Landscape Designer at Johnson's Nursery will be presenting "Native Niches: How to Incorporate Wisconsin Native Plants into Your Landscape," a breakout session, at the Knee Deep in Prairies event at Riveredge Nature Center. This is an all-day event with catered lunch and is open to the public.

Registration is required
. Click here for more details.

Johnson's Gardens to Donate 10% of Sales

in Community Fundraisers During July 


Visit Johnson's Gardens for a complete schedule. 

Help support our friends, neighbors and fellow land stewards.


Events include live critters and birds of prey show!  


Locally owned and operated, Johnson's Gardens is proud to collaborate with some of the leading Nature Centers in Southeastern Wisconsin-Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, Riveredge Nature Center, Mequon Nature Preserve and the Urban Ecology Center. Beginning on the weekend of July 11, each of these vital organizations will-in turn-receive a 10% match of all sales from your purchases at Johnson's Gardens. The donation will go towards helping assist in sustaining those organizations.

Next Landscape Plastics Recycling

Scheduled October 18th -- Mark Your Calendars Today!


The recent landscape plastics event was a great success. Hundreds of home gardeners and landscape contractors showed up with trailers, trunks, and beds filled with plastics containers and plant trays. We collected 15+ pallets of landscape plastics for recycling. Begin saving for October! 


Visit Johnson's Nursery for a more details. 

Visit the archive to read previous issues of The Leaf in Brief

Johnson's Nursery, Inc.
Nature's Best to You.
p. 262-252-4988  e.