Growing and Overwintering Tips For Holly

Growing Holly means following the rules.

And the first of those is growing it in climates that support its growth. But whoever pays attention to that rule? We want to grow this shiny leaved evergreen in all gardening zones. If you have the warmth (USDA zone 6 and warmer) then here's the drill. I note there are "hardy" varieties that extend the range of this plant into USDA 5/6 but a true zone 4 kills them most years.

Sunlight and Soils

This plant will thrive in full sun or light shade.

It also grows best in a well-drained soil, in fact it will tolerate drought once established. It is not particularly fussy about soil acidity levels.

Overwintering Holly

I know there are a lot of folks who want to grow this plant outside of its comfort zone. The killer is sunny warm winter days that heat up the leaves, causing them to open up and lose moisture. Cooler night temperatures close down the leaves, the ground is frozen so the lost water can't be replaced and the leaves brown and die. End of plant.

You protect this by not allowing the summer sun to penetrate to the leaves. You do this either by proper siting (winter shade during noon times) or by spraying all upper and lower leaf surfaces with an anti-desiccant or by covering the plant with burlap. Or by all three. You do this every winter or you'll lose the plant.

Burlap Helps

Burlap will also afford some measure of wind protection. Excessive drying winds also "burn" the plant leaves causing the same browning.

Good luck arranging this burlap as the needles on these slow growing holly leaves produce killer scratches.

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Many folks plan on growing holly for the bright red berries. You need a male and a female holly to accomplish this. And as long as there is one male planted 12 feet or so from a female, then botany will rear its head and berries will appear. I note that one male can easily take care of several female plants so plan on planting at least 3 female plants for every 1 male plant in the same general area.

No pollination equals no berries. The major cause of no berries if your plants are thriving and producing scads of flowers (very small ones I note) is not having a male and female. The male flowers tend to be very sweetly-fragrant while the females are almost scentless.

growing holly

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