Holly shrubs are an excellent addition to any garden, whether we are talking about a large or small space. This tree adds a splash of color during the winter months and provides a lush green backdrop for all of its beautiful flowers in the summer months.
Holly, recognized by botanists as Ilex aquifolium, typically has dark green spiny leaves and bright red berries. However, there are wide varieties of holly with flowers and berries of different colors. The holly genus ranges from small shrubs to large climbers, with various leaf shapes, textures and striations, and berries of different colors. Although holly will always be synonymous with Christmas, it has a life far beyond the festive period. It is easy to plant as a trimmed shrub can form an excellent hedge. Read on to learn helpful tips and plant your holly.
Where to grow holly?
Most holly varieties thrive in moist soils, but well-drained, in sun or shade, this is not a problem for it to develop well. If you are thinking of decorating your garden and want to add a plant without complications, that’s how easy it is to plant climbing nasturtium.
How to plant holly?
It is best to plant holly bushes in the winter months. This requires finishing a generous hole for the plant and incorporating garden compost into the soil before introducing it. So, before planting holly, you should work the soil well with a spade or cultivator. You can dig in compost, manure, or fertilizer.
To plant holly, dig a hole twice the width of the root ball, then place it in the hole with the top of the root ball level or slightly higher than the surrounding soil. Allow at least 1.5 meters between smaller varieties and up to 7 meters for large tree-type types. Fill the hole halfway with the ground, then add water to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. When the water drains, fill the gap with soil, then use the back of a shovel to firm the soil around the plant. Water abundantly to saturate the roots. Spread about 2 inches of natural mulch, such as shredded bark, around the plant to conserve moisture and control weeds.
How to propagate holly?
Hollies can be grown from seed, which you can obtain by picking the berries in December, January, and February. Remove the pulp from the berries and rinse the small seeds. Then plant them in compost and let them germinate in the open air. You can also take semi-mature cuttings in August and September when you do your regular pruning, you can recover hardwood cuttings in winter.
Tips for caring for a holly tree
Hollies are slow-growing plants that are easy to care for. If you want Christmas berries, these are produced on female plants from late fall to mid-winter. To get them, you need a male and a female plant to ensure cross-pollination, so always both. You can recognize male and female hollies by their flowers: male flowers have more prominent stamens. But, remember that berries can harm humans if eaten; they are just decorations.
Prune hollies to suit your needs. They respond well to pruning and can be trimmed into various shapes as formal hedges or left more free-form. Pruning should be done in late summer before new growth becomes woody.
Water your newly planted holly as needed to keep the soil slightly moist. However, do not allow the ground to become soggy, as soggy soil can rot the roots. After the first year, holly benefits from irrigation during the dry summer, as long as natural rainfall is less than 3 centimeters per week.
Generally, holly does not require supplemental fertilization. However, if the soil is poor or growth is deficient, feed the plant in spring and fall, using a fertilizer formulated for evergreens and other acidic plants.