Common Name : Holly
Science-y Name : Ilex opaca (American Holly) Ilex aquifolium (English Holly)
Native or Non : American Holly, specifically, are native to the maritime forest areas on the coast of Massachusetts mostly in the Cape Cod area. English Holly, which is not native, is considered invasive in some states. The holly species/variety you choose will determine the final look of your yard.
Characteristics : Holly are as synonymous with winter and the holidays as poinsettias and Christmas trees. Their glossy green and pointy leaves are immediately recognizable, and holly is an evergreen that brings color to your yard year round. Many holly will get small, white flowers in the summer and produce their signature bright red berries in the fall. Berries will last through winter if the birds don’t eat all of them! Birds shelter in holly bushes because they offer a double benefit of protection (those pointed leaves are sharp!) and food. Certain varieties, such as the American holly, can grow up to 20 feet and will have a pyramid shape. English holly are low growing shrubs and can make a beautiful hedge.
Let us help you choose and care for the right holly for your yard for the best year round appeal!
Fun Fact :
American holly were almost harvested out of existence in the north east United States, the Massachusetts coast specifically. People would cut and collect the plants around the Christmas holiday for use as decoration and, unfortunately, would take more than they needed or the plant could give. Thanks to Wilfred Wheeler the local holly was preserved as he began growing them on his farm, Ashumet Farm, in Falmouth Massachusetts in 1930. Wheeler encouraged others in the area to plant and protect the holly as well. In 1961 the Massachusetts Audubon Society acquired 8 acres of Wheeler’s land and it is now the Ashumet Holly Wildlife Sanctuary with over 60 varieties of holly on the property.
Care Considerations : Holly love sun and well drained soil. One of the biggest concerns with holly is getting rid of dead wood. R-A-G Thyme gardeners will monitor this and take it out when necessary. Pruning or trimming is best done in spring, though it can be done in summer as well with care not to cut any buds that are already set for flowers on female bushes. Holly will take to some shaping with trimmers, though it is best to let them do their own thing for the best growth and fullness.
For the best flowering and berries it is important to have at least one male holly in your yard for cross pollination. Male holly do not get berries, though they do flower, and tend to grow with a more wild look. A male holly bush would not be a yard centerpiece, but is still a nice bit of evergreen to keep on the side.
Our R-A-G Thyme team can determine the best care for your holly!
Contact us to get an estimate on R-A-G Thyme services for your yard and garden! We’ll help existing plants stay brilliant, or suggest alternatives with as much beauty and personality.