• close up view of the pointed green foliage on needlepoint holly
  • closer shot of young needlepoint holly in red pot with gold mop cypress as a backdrop
  • close up view of sharp pointed foliage on needlepoint holly plant
  • Needlepoint Holly

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Needlepoint Holly

Ilex cornuta 'Needlepoint'

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Needlepoint Holly Shrubs for Sale Online

Pair lustrous green foliage with bold red berries to bring you a winter interest plant that lights up any landscape! Introducing the Needlepoint Holly, a gorgeous cultivar of the fan-favorite Nellie Stevens Holly (Ilex Cornuta Holly).

These plants, named appropriately, sport smooth dark green leaves with a sharp spine at the tip. This is a popular plant to add evergreen color to a landscape year-round. Beyond their captivating foliage, you can look forward to small white flowers in early spring and bold, juicy red berries in winter.

Some notable qualities of the Needle Point Holly beyond its breathtaking appearance include a fast growth rate, deer resistance, and tolerance to various growing conditions. These plants require little to no maintenance once established. Reaching a mature height of around 15 feet, Ilex Cornuta Needlepoint is the perfect proponent for use as a privacy screen or dense hedge in the landscape. 

This magnificent winter interest plant will thrive if you live in growing zones 7-9. Ideal conditions for the Needlepoint Holly include full sun to partial shade and a well-draining soil medium. These plants are incredibly adaptable to just about any soil medium, though. Once established, these plants are said to be impressively drought-tolerant.


Growzone: 7-9 Needlepoint Holly Hardiness Zone 7-9
Hardiness Zone: 7-9
Mature Height: 15 to 20 Feet
Mature Width: 10 to 12 Feet
Sunlight: Full sun to part shade
Foliage Color: Dark green
Growth Form: Dense Upright pyramidal
Soil Conditions: Very tolerant of most soil conditions

How to Care for Needlepoint Holly

Once you buy a Needlepoint Holly, make sure to read about the care instructions that are recommended to keep this plant healthy and thriving.

How do I plant a Needlepoint Holly?

How do I plant a Needlepoint Holly?

Never plant Needlepoint Holly deeper than originally planted in the pot. As a rule we always say that before you mulch you should still be able to see the soil from the original pot. Planting too deep can cause rotting of the stem and death to the shrub. Needlepoint Holly are moderately drought tolerant, however they grow very slow without adequate water. The one question that comes up often when talking to customers is “when is the best time to plant.”? For the most part, container shrubs can be planted year around, provided the ground isn’t frozen. New shrubs should be watered twice weekly (minimum), under hot drier conditions possibly more. Care should be taken not to over water. More shrubs die from over watering than under.

What type of fertilizer is best for a Needlepoint Holly?

What type of fertilizer is best for a Needlepoint Holly?

We recommend when planting your plants to use Bio-tone starter fertilizer by Espoma. We have tried many so-called “starter fertilizers” over the years and have come to rely on Bio-tone exclusively for our own use. Simply mix the recommended amount of Bio-tone into the backfill soil and water in generously when back filled.

Bio-tone® Starter Plus is an all-natural plant food that is combined with a stronger concentration of beneficial bacteria along with both endo and ecto mycorrhizae. Basically the “good” fungus in Bio-tone colonizes the growing roots of your newly planted plant and does not allow disease causing fungus to attack the new roots. It has also shown promise in stimulating the growth of the new roots which means quicker establishment for your plant.

After establishment and during the following years we recommend Holly-tone used at the recommended rates. It is also an organic and slow release which will feed your shrubs the proper amount of nutrients over a period of time rather than all at once which can burn the root tips and actually have the opposite effect of slowing down plant growth. It also will help to maintain the acid level in the soil that Needlepoint Holly need to thrive.

How do I shear Needlepoint Holly?

How do I shear Needlepoint Holly?

Shearing is generally not needed however for a formal hedge start shearing when the shrub reaches 3 or 4 feet in height, cutting only the sides, removing no more than 3 or 4 inches of growth. This will cause the shrub to grow thicker. If you want the shrub to grow tall don't cut the top leader, just shape the sides.

The best time to shear is after a new growth spurt finishes and the new growth begins to mature. Growth will go from a smooth, greasy texture, to a rougher snake skin look. Shearing twice a year is sufficient but only if needed. To keep your shrubs at a particular height requires cutting the central leader and then shearing all outside branches. This will control the shrub for many years, but in time the shrub will become too large to maintain.

Pruning can help make Needlepoint Holly more bushy. It is recommended that you disinfect your shears before you begin and even after each plant to prevent disease spread. You can prune dead or diseased limbs anytime of the year. To encourage thick bushy shrubs simply trim back the limbs that have outstretched the rest of the shrub.

How often do I water my Needlepoint Holly?

How often do I water my Needlepoint Holly?

To help your Needlepoint Holly shrubs roots to establish, apply 2-3 gallons of water for each inch of trunk in diameter several times a week. Do not add water if the root ball is saturated. Follow this schedule for three-six months depending on the USDA Zone you live in.

Once established, apply 1 gallon a week to the rootball. You can discontinue irrigation once the deciduous shrubs in your area have dropped their leaves. You should try to moisten the soil 2-3 feet deep each time you irrigate.

Depending on the soil condition, you may need more or less water. Clay for instance is more difficult to saturate and requires adding the water more slowly, while sandy soil absorbs water quickly. Keep this in mind when watering your newly planted shrub. It is best to water your shrub with a soaker hose not a sprinkler.


Frequently Asked questions

How Fast Do Needlepoint Holly Grow?


General questions

What do the pot sizes mean?


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