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The Plant Guide

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English holly

Ilex aquifolium

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This tall, pyramidal, evergreen tree may be grown as a large shrub. Its evergreen, spiny foliage is leathery and glossy. Insignificant, though fragrant, flowers bloom in spring followed by red, orange, or yellow drupes that attract birds. Many cultivars are available.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsEnglish holly is less hardy than our American holly ( I. opaca ) and is more difficult to grow in some areas of the country. However, it is an agressive/invasive plant in certain areas, including the Pacific Northwest.

CareProvide full sun to part shade and moist but well-drained soil in a sheltered site. In hot climates, English holly grows best with some afternoon shade. Prune in winter, if desired. Plant at least one male pollinator to ensure fruit set.

PropagationTake semi-ripe cuttings in summer or early fall.

ProblemsHolly leaf miner, spider mites, whitefly, scale, leaf spot, leaf rot, tar spot, powdery mildew. leaf scorch, leaf drop, chlorosis. Aphids may prey on young shoots.

  • Genus : Ilex
  • Plant Width : 15 to 30 feet
  • Plant Height : 30 feet or more
  • Zones : 7, 8, 9
  • Growth Rate : Fast
  • Light : Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Moisture : Medium Moisture
  • Maintenance : Moderate
  • Characteristics : Showy Fruit
  • Plant Type : Shrubs
  • Bloom Time : Spring
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Spring Interest
  • Flower Color : White
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