Grown for their beautiful foliage and vibrantly colored berries, holly plants comprise about 600 species of evergreen and deciduous bushes and trees. Winterberry, Inkberry and Yaupon hollies are the most common holly plants. Most holly plants feature spiky deep green leaves with bright berries that grow in clusters. Holly plants are both female and male. The female hollies produce berries, but a male holly must be planted next to the female in order to produce berries. Watch out, though, as these berries can make you sick if eaten. Deciduous hollies seem to be hardier than the evergreen hollies, which are great for hedges. Depending on the species of holly, they can grow to between six and 40 feet tall and just as wide.
Most hollies generally grow well in full sunlight or lightly shaded areas with moist, good draining and somewhat acidic soil. The Winterberry holly requires highly acidic soil. Some hollies, such as the Inkberry, fare really well in wet areas. Allow adequate space between each one when planting hollies. Usually, you need to space them between five and 25 feet apart, depending on the type of holly. The hole should be dug to two to three times the width of the root ball.
Caring for holly plants is relatively easy once they are planted properly. To achieve optimal growth and color, in early spring, add a layer of compost out the farthest leaves. Then, on top of the compost, place a layer of mulch, about two inches deep, to help retain moisture for the roots. Keep mulch away from the trunk to prevent disease. Hollies don’t any watering in the summer if you get at least an inch of rainfall a week. Most holly plants react well to intense pruning for hedges and topiaries. It’s best to prune in the spring if you want to maximize berry production.