Photo/Illustration: Lee Ann White
Few plants are more versatile than hollies. With their textural foliage, ornamental berries, and varied growth habit, it is easy to see why this genus is hugely popular with gardeners around the country. For the most part, hollies are a diverse group of plants that have unique traits and acclimate easily to many different environments. But just like good soil, adequate nutrients, and sun, proper pruning is important to keep hollies healthy and beautiful.
Timing is an important factor when pruning hollies. Whenever you prune your plants, they typically send out new growth, which is susceptible to sudden drops in temperature and frost. For evergreen hollies, it’s best to prune in early summer so that this new growth won’t be damaged by cool temperatures. Don’t be surprised if female hollies have fewer berries after being pruned because the process removes most of the summer flowers that develop into winter fruit. Depending on the look you want and the type of shrub you have, pruning can give hollies either a formal shape or, with thinning, an informal look—and keep them looking good year-round.