Holly is a popular shrub to grow in the garden. In the summer it fades into the background, providing a dense, rich green backdrop for other plants. Then, in the winter, it comes to the fore, providing brilliant splashes of colour in the form of the lovely bright red berries.

Growing holly:

Holly should be planted in your garden in either spring or autumn, when temperatures and rainfall are such that the fledgling plants are not put under too much stress and strain. The holly plants will prefer a location that has well-drained but not dry, slightly acid soil in full sun. But holly is fairly accommodating and will tolerate less than ideal conditions in partial shade or dry or water-retentive soil.

Before you go ahead and buy your holly, however, you should know that with most varieties of holly it is only the female plants which will produce berries and they will only do so if there is a male plant nearby so you will need to make sure there is a male in the vicinity and if there is not you may well need to plant two shrubs if you are to enjoy the brilliant red berries for which holly is known. If space is an issue then it may be a good idea for you to seek out a variety which produces berries without the need for a second male plant nearby.

Taking care of holly bushes is easy, especially once they are established. Give the holly plenty of water while it makes itself comfortable in its new home. Once it is established, however, holly bushes are unlikely to need to be watered in normal weather conditions. In drought conditions, be sure they get at least 2 inches of water a week. Mulch is a great idea and spread out under a holly bush it will help retain water in summer and keep roots at a constant temperature throughout the winter months.

Regular pruning is essential for holly bushes. It will help to keep them healthy and in a compact form rather than getting all straggly.

Why grow holly in the garden?

As well as providing nice winter colour and summer depth, holly can give an element of protection to a garden by creating a very prickly barrier.Holly will also attract birds to your garden, as they like to come to feed on the ripe berries at a time of year when food can be quite scarce.

Of course the holly boughs can be brought inside at Christmas to decorate the house. Holly boughs have long held a symbolism associated with long-life, good luck and protection, both within and outwith the Christian tradition.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Ilex aquifolium