Now commonly associated with Christmas celebrations, the holly is an evergreen shrub found growing in gardens. Recognizable by the unique shape of its foliage, this ornamental shrub produces small red berries from early autumn to late winter. Ideal for defensive hedges, holly needs to benefit from good growing conditions as soon as it’s planted to retain its special sparkle throughout the year. 

Belonging to the Aquifoliaceae family, holly is a small thorny shrub that is often found in bushes in wilderness. Appreciated for its beautiful green colour, its glazed leaves and red berries, holly is very present in gardens for its ornamental value and hardiness. Traditionally used during the holiday season, holly is generally utilized to decorate homes and tables, but also to embellish Christmas bouquets. Although today there are many species of holly around the world, the most widespread variety is undoubtedly the European holly which can be very well incorporated in defensive hedges, clumps or shrubbery. Fairly inconspicuous, holly is a shrub that rarely exceeds 25 feet at maturity, for a diameter generally ranging from 6.5 to 10 feet.

How to plant holly 

Holly is a shrub that must be grown in-ground, in a well-shaded area that is sheltered from direct sunlight. Accordingly, it is recommended to plant it preferably near larger trees so that it can take advantage of all the shade it needs to thrive. To grow holly successfully, it is essential to choose suitable ground having taken care to avoid the calcareous soil, favouring instead rather fresh land. Furthermore, it should be planted in a location where it can bloom well during growth. Before planting, make sure the depth of the hole is larger than the size of the root ball and make sure the roots adhere well to the ground so that the shrub can resume growth without difficulty.

How to maintain holly? 

Rather slow to develop during the early years following planting, holly will require some care during its growth. In terms of watering, holly only needs slight amounts of water, and only when the ground is very dry, especially in summer. Unlike the vast majority of ornamental trees, holly needs a regular and consistent pruning before the arrival of spring. Once fruiting is complete, it will be necessary to cut down a good amount of branches to be sure to boost plant growth. As for winter time, know that holly is usually hardy and able to withstand low temperatures. However, the most fragile species will need to be preserved from the weather and strong winds to be able to pass the winter and continue their development once spring comes.

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Published in Hedges by Alexander on 04 Jul 2011