image English Holly leaves

Ilex aquifolium | English Holly

Evergreen and makes a good hedge, especially as a barrier. Has wavey and extremely spikey, leaves unique and quite destinct form other hollies. The spikes sometimes occur in the middle of the blade. Commonly planted on British seasides and grown as an understory tree or even topiary. id I. aquifolia by it’s chartreuse stems (growing for 2 years) and overly spikey leaves.

My bad attitude about hollies comes from the fact that many outgrow their homes and overwhelm and sometimes obliterate whatever is close by. Often planted as screens in tight spaces, when a much less burly plant would be better. Once overgrown, it is a project to remove them. They can be very nice when treated as small trees, given space and allowed to take on a more natural state. I like hollies pruned up as well to expose the branching. Of large leaved hollies, my favorite is the native Ilex opaca. I do not have a bad attitude about small leaved hollies, on the contrary. Ilex crenata or Ilex vomitoria are fabulous.

Won’t tollerate poor drainage. The root system resents being disturbed, so do not cultivate the soil around them. Hollies sometimes drop their old leaves due to transplant shock, but new foliage will soon emerge. Be careful not to overwater holly that has lost its leaves. Keep the soil moist during the summer growing season, but allow it to dry somewhat in early fall to allow the season’s growth to mature enough to resist winter damage. Grows naturally a bit more open if not pruned – a nice effect.
Doesn’t like extreme heat and humdity. Use only in protected sites. Dioecious – needs male to pollinate females to flower and berry. I. aquifolia is used to as a parent for many hybid cultivars bacause it has so many positive qualities. Plant in spring with plenty of mulch. Rabbits are particularly fond of this species and will quickly remove the bark. When you purchase, need to specify cultivar because the options are limitless.
image English Holly 5' tall
‘Pendula’ can be a good ground cover

‘Feros Argentea’ variegated (see below)
ZONES HARDINESS | SUN OR SHADE ….. 6 – 8 | sun to part shade
GROWTH RATE ….. slow, especially in south and hot weather
HEIGHT / WIDTH ….. 15’ to 50’ / 15′
PLANT SHAPE & BRANCHING ….. Densley pyramidal, heavily branched
LEAF FORM & SHAPE ….. 1″ to 3″ eliptical to obovate, wavey edges with spines
LEAF ARRANGEMENT ….. simple, alternate
LEAF COLOR ….. Evergreen | glossy dark green with some variagated cultivars
image English Holly bud

FLOWERS | delicate March-April, white to pale green, not showy
BERRIES | Red, yellow to orange berries
SOIL prefers moist well drained, fertile organic and slightly acid, good for urban setting
Native to UK. Very salt tolerant.

image Ilex aquifolia veriagated

image Ilex aquifolia

image Ilex aquifolia spikey leaves