American yellow-berried holly

Let's talk holly...


How can I tell what kind of Holly (species) I have?
One way is to send a sample stem including leaves and fruit (if possible) to Holly Ridge and we can probably identify what species and variety you might have. Or send us a close-up picture via e-mail to: Paul@HollyRidgeNursery.com. Another way is to view pictures online doing a Google image search of what you may think is your holly.

How can I tell the sex (male or female) of my holly?

By sight, the female will have fruit; the male, or pollinator, does not bear fruit. Another way is to wait until blossom time (usually May/June) to determine sex. Males have anthers (looks like fireworks) and the female will have a girl scout emblem with a button in the middle.

Do I need a male of the same species to get fruit on the female?
Short answer – yes. Long answer – If any male and female of the holly genus are blooming at the same, fruit may occur- but it will probably not have fertility or progeny.

Where will holly grow?
Because most hollies are understory trees in the forest, they will do well in partial to heavy shade as well as full sun. Winterberry prefer full sun while American, English and Pedunculosa welcome some shade, either morning or afternoon.

What kind of soil do I need?
Most hollies will grow in a ph range of 4.5 to neutral 7.0 with 5.5 to 6.0 the best area. Hollies, like most plants, prefer a soil with a higher organic content but will tolerate sand through heavy clay soils (esp. American Holly). In either soil, incorporate organic materials (peat moss, aged manure, leaf mulch) with the existing soils.

What about our friend the deer? 
The blue hollies (Ilex x. meservae) offer a tempting buffet but most other species (American, especially pedunculosa and glabra, and Japanese) are one of the least favorite salads on the menu.

What is the meaning of life? Are we alone? Does Stevie Wonder? Is Ted Danson? Is Helen Ready? Why is there war? On and on.
These are indeed frequently asked questions, but have little to do with the nature of holly.

When is the best time to plant or move holly?
Spring through late September are good times to plant with a heavy watering schedule the first year. Moving is best done just before bud break in spring or late summer when growth has hardened off.

What kind of fertilizer?
Hollies are heavy feeders of nitrogen (first number on the bag) with anything above 12+ in spring and the 4th of July. Later feedings will yield immature soft growth going into dormancy and that growth will probably perish.

What kind of protection is needed for winter?
Because evergreen hollies will desiccate (dry out) in the wind, the best location is out of the wind. A mulch around the base of 3 to 4 inches over winter and then removed in the spring will protect the roots from heavy freezing as hollies have a high freezing temperature. Extreme winter weather can cause leaves to brown and fall off in spring. In this case, just trim the end branches lightly and the plant should come back fully.

Why is it so difficult to find much of anything besides some Ilex crenata or Ilex x. meservae (blue holly) in garden centers?
Garden centers want to sell plants, no? The local demand for other species is often limited; therefore, the center will be stuck with unsold merchandise. In addition, American hollies do not “flesh out” well until they are 3' to 4' tall and they do not grow well in containers. Anyway, the sales pitch of "ugly children, gangling adolescents, and handsome adults" somehow will not make the sales.