Pruning Holly Trees

By Shannon C , last updated June 3, 2011

Holly trees are beautiful evergreen plants that can be the quintessential reminder of holidays past and present if properly pruned and cared for. Holly trees are quite simply a pure winner for year round visual interest and evergreen foliage that grows in densely to provide landscape accenting ranging from a specimen planting to a privacy screen. Reputedly occupying a favored position with the great George Washington himself, many of the trees he personally planted are still alive today. Holly also forms the basis for that holiday standard, the Christmas wreath. This alone assures its place as an all time favorite even beyond the usefulness of its wood and berries in a variety of settings. Learn more about how to care for and prune holly trees from gardening experts.

How to Care for Holly Trees

Holly trees love sunshine and are quite drought tolerant, the exception being when new trees are first installed and need more attentive care. Holly trees are often planted in groups because of the need for the presence of both a male and a female tree to produce the holly tree's signature berries. In addition to berries, holly trees produce small white flowers and a single male tree in a small stand of female trees will suffice for the necessary cross-pollination. Holly trees do not need much fertilizer and are generally self sufficient as they mature.

How to Prune Holly Trees

The one exception to self sufficiency in holly trees is found with pruning. Pruning helps the holly tree maintain its natural pyramid shape and also acts as an early warning system to detect signs of infestation by pests or fungus. The best time to prune holly trees is in the winter when the tree goes dormant. However, light maintenance pruning can and should be done as needed throughout the year to control growth, improve air circulation, and remove any damaged foliage. Holly trees can tolerate heavier pruning for shaping, but lower branches should never pruned to be shorter than higher branches.

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