Most plants have an achilles heel. This one has two! It must have an acid soil and it needs a male! Bolton Percy has a slightly calcareous soil pH7+ and for my 25 years there, pernettya would not grow. Now, at Boundary Cottage, where the sandy-textured soil is pH 6.5, it prospers.
Pernettyas are one of those plants described as dioecious. Like holly, they are male or female. You need to plant a horticulturally boring male to pollinate the female plants to achieve berries. Pollination takes place across several meters, so there is scope for planting plenty of females for just one male! I planted three females with red, pink and white berries. With their spreading habit and with light pruning in spring, they form fine clumps and merge well within an ericaceous border. The male tends to be rather vigorous so I prune it hard after pollination and, to keep it small, occasionally yank out suckering shoots.
Even the ‘boring male’ in the foreground looks quite nice on a frosty morning
You might have to shop around to find a male, only good garden centers sell them. I am told that without a male you sometimes do still get a thin crop of berries.
It is curious that the berries are not taken by the birds.The label will probably say they are poisonous, but this is in doubt. In researching this point I found this informative web-site.
|Frosty december morning|