Q: There are deciduous hollies with plenty of berries every winter along the county road that leads to my house. Can I get some of these berries and plant them to get more growing in my yard?
A: Propagating deciduous hollies from seed is not for the impatient gardener. Collect berries in late winter and separate the red outer coat from the seed inside. Prime the seed by placing a layer of them one-half inch deep in a plastic pot filled with 1:2 mixture of sharp sand and moist peat. Put the pot in a plastic bag and store in a cool place (like in the crawl space under a house) for twelve months. The seeds are then ready to germinate and can be planted in a semi-shade bed covered with chicken wire to deter squirrels. Seedlings will emerge in late spring, when they can be transplanted to growing beds for observation. Since hollies have male flowers on 50% of the plants, you won’t know for five years which of your seedlings are females that bear the berries you enjoy.
My advice instead is to air-layer small limbs to make several rooted cuttings. Start the process next summer and you’ll thereby be assured of the sex of your plant. To learn how to do this easy task, go to xrl.us/txlayering.