Yaupon Holly is a Texas native holly varietal that is considered so malleable and versatile as an ornamental tree or shrub that it fits right in with the friendly reputation the South is known for. This beautiful evergreen holly blooms flowers and fruits, although its flowers are far overshadowed by the red berries that makes Yaupon Holly so popular with birds, butterflies, and other garden visitors. Its botanical name, Ilex vomitoria, refers to the occasional use of its leaves for their emetic and diuretic properties. American Indians were also fond of the Yaupon Holly for use as a ceremonial intoxicant and brewed a special drink they called "black drink" from its leaves and twigs that has stimulant and intoxicating properties.
Grown in nature, the Yaupon Holly can actually reach heights of 25 feet or higher at maturity, and 8 to 12 feet in diameter, making it very suitable for growth as an ornamental tree as well. Yaupon Holly is of a varietal that is known as "dioecious." This refers to the fact that a single Holly plant will not yield both female and male flowers. Yaupon Holly is an easy choice for an ornamental border, low growing tree, freestanding shrub, foundation planting or landscape accent. Yaupon Holly bark is also considered a point of interest in its pale white and grey shades.
Yaupon Holly prefers full or partial sunlight, moist soil that is mildly acidic and drains well, and is not particular about soil types or salt content in soil. Being drought tolerant, the Yaupon Holly can also tolerate low moisture conditions beyond that of many plants. It is important to select a location in which to plant Yaupon Holly which is free of overhead obstructions and offers sufficient space in which to grow with proper air circulation.
Yaupon Holly can be grown easily from seeds, but is also often propagated from suckers and cuttings as well. Cuttings are often useful when it is desired to grow a tree identical to its parent. Yaupon Holly will grow quite fast and blooms in spring. Certain varietals of Yaupon Holly are known to be more resistant to pests and diseases for certain areas, so it can be important to check with a local garden center or nursery to select the best varietal for the growing conditions and climate. Birds will be attracted in great numbers by the small yellow, orange, or red berries, so selecting a location where visiting birds will not cause a nuisance can also be important. The Yaupon Holly often grows in a multi-trunk formation, but can be pruned and trained to grow from a single trunk if desired. The Yaupon Holly, especially the 'nana" varietal, is relatively resistant to disease and pests, although problems can arise with aphids, leaf miner, mites, or scale. These can be treated successfully with a water spray and commercially available pesticide sprays, oils, or soaps as recommended by the local garden center.