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Holly Bushes Buying Guide

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Published November 10, 2022
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Holly Bushes, also known by its scientific name Ilex, is a plant that almost everyone can recognize at first glance! What makes them so popular is their wide use in making Christmas decorations, especially wreaths. They are an excellent addition to any garden for two reasons: they add a pop of color to the landscape during the winter season and provide a landscape enriched with lush greenery during summertime. 

The holly bush is known for its resilience – it can withstand almost all weather conditions, serves as a perfect windbreaker, requires low maintenance, and is generally quite easy to grow. There are over 480 species of this genus, and while being great for garden usage, they can also benefit wildlife, providing a food source for certain wild animal species during winter.

How Big Do Holly Bushes Get?

Hollies vary in size depending on the variation, how much space they have to grow, and the environment it is planted in. You can use larger holly shrubs to create privacy screens, and the smaller varieties are great for small hedges and borders.

The large varieties of holly shrubs such as Oakland Holly, Robin Holly, and Nellie R. Stevens Holly can get 25 feet tall. These tall ilex varieties grow at a slow to medium pace initially – once settled, their height can increase up to 24 inches per year. 

Small varieties of holly shrubs, such as Ilex compacta, Touch of Gold Holly, and Soft Touch Holly grow to around 2 to 4 feet tall and vary in width. The shrubs grow at a very slow rate and work well as low-growing hedges.

Landscape Uses

Larger leaf varieties of hollies that produce berries are especially popular during the holidays. They are mostly used during the holiday season for Christmas decorations. But since so many species exist, their use in the garden is incredibly versatile! 

This plant is associated mostly with evergreens, although some deciduous variants exist. Mainly, these bushes are used as privacy screens, foundation plants, hedges, barriers, and more! 

Taking Care Of The Holly Shrub

Holly bushes are incredibly easy to take care of! Here are a few tips to make the most of your shrubs.

Soil & Light

First, it needs to be planted in well-drained soil that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight, although it can also thrive in partial shade. The best time to plant it is mid-spring to avoid the cold or heat. Remember that if your soil is alkaline or pH neutral, you should add bark or wood chips to increase its acidity.

Watering

Once established, the care is minimal. The holly shrub needs to be watered regularly during its first year of growth, but after that, it requires very little water.

Winter care

In order for the plant to retain its moisture during the summer and even out the temperature during the winter, mulching around the base is strongly recommended. The mulch will keep soil temperatures even during cold and extreme heat.

Pruning

To ensure the proper care of your holly shrubs, you should do regular pruning. By doing this, the plant will keep its compact form instead of being leggy and scrawny. The best time to prune your holly bushes is spring, specifically in April.

Types of Holly Bushes We Carry

With over 480 varieties, this is one of the most versatile landscaping plants! Here are the types of holly bushes that we keep in stock:

Large Varieties of Holly Bushes

Golden Oakland ® Holly (Ilex Hybrid ‘Magden’ PP30451)

The Golden Oakland Holly tree is a densely growing bush with variegated green and golden-yellow foliage. It grows about 15-20’ in height and 12-15’ in width. It fully enjoys the sun’s warmth, although it can thrive in partial shade. It’s the perfect option for hedges and privacy screens, but you can also plant it in containers.

USDA Zones: 6a – 9b

Dwarf Burford Holly (Ilex Cornuta ‘Dwarf Burfordii’)

This classic ornamental shrub will greatly add to your garden and landscape! It has a pretty minimal growth, maturing to 8’ in height and 10’ in width. It blooms during the spring in full sun to partial shade. This particular Holly grows red berries during the fall, which last through winter, attracting various birds. It can be used as a foundation plant, specimen, or hedge.

USDA Zones: 7a – 9b

Nellie Stevens Holly Tree (Ilex x ‘Nellie R. Stevens’)

This will be the perfect option if you need a fast-growing, evergreen shrub for the utmost privacy. It grows up to three feet per year, reaching a height of 25’ and a width of 15’. It can grow in partial sun, though the plant is shade tolerant as well! It is decorated with greenish-white flowers during spring, and red berries during the winter.

USDA Zones: 6a – 9b

Compact Japanese Holly (Ilex Compacta)

The Compact Japanese Holly is an evergreen shrub that truly loves the sun! It comes in a globular form, making it an ideal plant for borders and hedges. It’s extremely easy to maintain and is also drought, and disease-resistant. The shrub grows up to 6’ in both height and width.

USDA Zones: 6a – 9b

Robin™ Holly (Ilex Hybrid ‘Conin’ PP9486)

The use of this specific tree is endless, as you can grow it as a border, hedge, privacy screen, or specimen. In addition, the Robin Holly grows 20’ tall and 15’ wide and attracts many birds and butterflies!

USDA Zones: 6a – 10a

Soft Touch Holly (Ilex Crenata ‘Soft Touch’)

The Soft Touch Holly is a magnificent bush with a soft texture and glossy green foliage. During springtime, it produces little, white flowers, while during the colder months, you can notice some blackberry-like fruits. This bush can be used as a border, accent, or small hedge, and can even be grown in container gardens.

USDA Zones: 6a – 8b

Low Rider™ Holly (Ilex Crenata ‘BLH01’ PP29799)

The Low Rider holly features petite, dark green leaves with green foliage and a compact, rounded form. It grows up to 4’ in both width and height and tolerates hard trimming perfectly! Additionally, it’s disease and insect-resistant and can thrive in mixed soils. This plant is mainly used for foundations, mass planting, and borders and hedges.

USDA Zones: 6a – 9b

Why Should You Use The Holly Bush For Your Landscape?

Hollies fit perfectly in every garden if you give them plenty of sun. Once they are fully established, you can expect beautiful green foliage throughout your landscape. Because of the red berries that bloom during the fall, your garden will look fantastic all through the winter. 

If you’re looking for a shrub that requires minimal care and looks fabulous year-round, look no further than the Holly Bush. If you’re interested in purchasing this plant, feel free to discover your favorite variant in our store! 

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