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Hollies are most often associated with the winter season due to being used in all forms of decorations. Hollies should also be on your list of perfect privacy trees, as well. When they are correctly spaced, Holly Trees can also be used to create a dense privacy hedge.
The two most common types of Holly planted in the United States are American Holly or Ilex opaca and Nellie Stevens Holly. Both species offer ornamental features such as bright red berries, but these both offer privacy as well.
Hollies are also especially fast-growing trees, with Nellie Stevens Holly topping the list at up to 3 feet per year. Hollies can also be planted individually as specimen trees, which can be used to draw attention to otherwise unnoticed areas of the landscape, especially in winter, when the bright red berries stand out against the dark green leaves.
Holly Trees are adaptable and easy-to-grow and are tolerant of most soil and light conditions. Here in Maryland, American hollies can be seen growing in our woods under the canopies of larger deciduous trees.
Ilex opaca, the American holly, is a species of holly native to the eastern and south-central United States. They can be found from coastal Massachusetts, south to central Florida, and west to southeastern Missouri and east Texas. The American Holly Tree is the state tree of Delaware.
This is the Christmas holly whose berry-laden boughs are typically collected at Christmas time each year for ornamentation ("decking the halls" as it were). Thick, leathery, deep green leaves (2-4" long) have sharp marginal teeth.
Why Should You Plant Holly Trees on Your Property?
Holly trees are beautiful plants with thick, dark green foliage that lasts year-round. On top of this luscious color, holly trees grow berries in the fall and winter, adding a pop of color to gardens during the colder months. These evergreen trees offer interest over multiple seasons. Holly trees are considered to be both an evergreen and an ornamental tree.
The bright red berries also serve to feed birds and other animals during the winter. On top of this, hollies are highly functional garden plants. With thick, dark green foliage, holly trees can be trimmed to make excellent privacy screens and windbreaks.
Holly Trees are also reasonably hardy trees that require minimal effort due to their relative resistance to diseases and pests. The American holly, especially, shows resistance to most plagues, making it an excellent choice for beginning gardeners looking for some color in their garden.
With a wide range of growing zones (typically 6-9), Holly Trees are suited for different climates, and they are drought tolerant. Their root system is substantial and will provide an anchor as Holly Trees grow. We recommend that Holly Trees be planted in groups of four, if possible, as doing so will increase their berry production.
The foliage of the American holly provides cover for songbirds and mammals, and after frost settles in, the fruit becomes a choice food for grouse, quail, wild turkeys, and other songbirds. The flowers are also attractive to bees. Plant as a specimen or in groups. Birds use the plants for cover and nesting and eat the fruit. Foliage and red berries provide excellent winter color. Berried branches can be used in winter wreaths.
The American holly tree has been popular since the beginning of American history, having served the Native Americans with wood for many different applications and berries that were used for buttons and barter. It was said to be a favorite of George Washington, and more than a dozen hollies he planted are still evident today. It is also widely known as the primary raw material for Christmas wreaths. The first scientific observation of the American Holly tree was recorded in 1744.
How to plant Holly Trees
Sun: Plant in full sun to partial shade. Full sun allows for the densest growth leaving very little as far as space between the branches.
To plant Holly Trees, dig a hole two to three times the width of the tree's root ball. Place the plant in the hole with the top of the root ball level with or slightly higher than the surrounding soil. Allow at least 5 feet between smaller varieties and up to 25 feet for large, tree-type varieties. Holly grows 1-3' per year, depending on which type you choose to add to your landscape. Our American Holly Trees that are in 3-gallon nursery pots are typically 4-5 ft in height when we ship them.
When to Plant: Holly trees can be planted just about any time of the year. In summer, make sure to water at least twice to three times per week for the first few weeks.
Growing Information on Holly Trees
Holly Trees are typically very disease and pest resistant. The spiny or serrated leaves make the tree deer resistant. Most Hollies need both female and male plants to produce berries. Nellie Stevens Holly has both male and female flowers on the same plant, so no pollinator is required for berries.
Nellie Stevens Holly is quickly becoming one of the most popular Hollies sold today. This is due to the fast growth rate of up to 3 feet per year, under ideal conditions, and when adequately fertilized.
The American Holly is a welcome sight to native birds as it is berries are highly recognized as a food source. To use this outstanding native as privacy or buffer screen plant between 5 to 6 feet apart, as the tree will reach a mature width of between 12 and 15 feet. This distance between plants will create a robust and dense privacy wall.
Christmas Jewel Holly was selected for its dark, polished green foliage and large apple-red berries. The growth habit is naturally dense and upright — an excellent specimen plant for a privacy or noise screen.
How Do You Care for Your Holly Trees?
Holly trees are a widely adaptable species of plants that are easy to care for once they’re established. Though there are some variations from species to species, holly trees grow well in full sunlight and light shade and tend to prefer moist yet well-drained soil. When first planting a holly tree, fertilize the ground before planting. We've found Holly-Tone by Espoma to be the perfect all-around holly fertilizer.
Be sure to establish the plant in early spring when possible, so the roots have the entire summer to mature. Once established, hollies require little to no maintenance.
Holly tree trimming and pruning should take place in late winter or early spring. This will have less of an effect on the holly tree’s growth rate. Additionally, watch out for any signs of holly tree growth problems like leaf discoloration or die back — it could be a sign of disease.
Contact Garden Goods Direct Today to Buy Your Holly Tree Needs
Holly trees are an excellent addition to any garden, and Garden Goods Direct can provide quality specimens from a convenient source. As America’s number one online garden center, Garden Goods Direct will help you with anything you need to get holly trees for your garden. With a secure online ordering solution and expert advice on tree care, you know you’re getting quality every time you shop with us.
Order a holly tree today from Garden Goods Direct and have your new tree delivered directly to your door! We know you'll enjoy these hardy evergreens for many years to come.