Expert advice on growing and maintaining holly

Expert advice on growing and maintaining holly

Fast-growing and easy to please, holly is among the best shrubs to plant along the foundation of a house. Here’s some tips on growing healthy and beautiful holly in your garden.

Integrate them into your existing garden

  • The hollies with spiny leaves naturally deter traffic, making them excellent screening shrubs for boundaries.
  • Although many have prickly foliage, some species boast small, smooth leaves that are easy to include in a mixed border.
  • The most popular hollies are evergreen, enriching the landscape with their glossy foliage year-round.
  • American holly eventually needs space to spread. Surround it in foundation groups or borders with shrubs of more modest proportions.

Pay attention to the plant’s sex

  • Hollies are valued for their colourful berries in red, black or yellow.
  • For good fruit set, you’ll usually need at least one male plant for every six females.
  • The sex of the plant is given on plant tags or often reflected in the cultivar name, such as ‘Blue Boy’ and ‘Blue Girl.’
  • A little pollen goes a long way when bees carry it.

Plant them in the right season

  • Holly can be planted in spring or early fall, or even in summer if you’re willing to water it regularly.
  • It should show vigorous growth the second season after planting, and reach full size in five to six years.
  • Even though American holly grows slowly, select a small specimen. It’ll do a better job of establishing itself in your yard.
  • Set American holly plants out in early spring. Pick a well-drained site that’s protected from winter weather, especially winds, which can cause leaves to brown.
  • American hollies must be transplanted with a generous soil ball. Take care to keep it intact to prevent damaging the roots.

Keep an eye out for pests

  • Holly’s tough, thick leaves are protection against most pests and diseases.
  • Occasionally, minute sap-sucking spider mites or scale insects may attack, creating a pale, stippled appearance on leaves.
  • Knock mites off plants with a strong stream of water from a hose.
  • You can also apply insecticidal soap or a commercial miticide labelled for use on hollies, according to label directions.
  • Control scale with horticultural oil, applied as directed.
  • American holly is occasionally bothered by leaf miners, which tunnel into leaves and disfigure plants with trails. Snip off affected leaves and remove fallen, infested leaves to solve the problem.
  • If green berries fail to turn red, they may be infested with holly midges. Prune off infested berries and, if problems persist, switch to a cultivar that blooms later in spring.

Be sure to plant holly carefully and keep an eye out for pests. That way, your holly will give your garden lush colour year-round.


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