I’m reading about the pyramidal hollies grown in Kentucky. Where can I find these hybrids to purchase for my yard, such as the Cardinal and Little Red?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Neva in Kentucky: Kentucky is lucky to have extensive plantings of American hollies (Ilex opaca). If you want to view them for yourself, you should visit Yew Dell Gardens in Crestwood, KY, Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, or Bernheim Arboretum in Clermont. They all have impressive plantings of these evergreens. The ‘Cardinal’ cultivar is a compact, slow-growing, pyramidal-shaped evergreen known for bearing fruit at a young age. The Little Red hybrid is a Monrovia patent plant and is not an American holly. It is a hybrid with the original parents being Ilex cornuta ‘Burfordii’ and Ilex pernyi ‘Red Delight.’ This selection was then crossed with Ilex latifolia. Maybe that’s too much information, but the bottom line is that it has more of a rounded growth habit than a pyramidal one. As for purchasing a pyramidal shaped holly, you should start by visiting your local garden centers/nurseries to see what they carry. You can always ask if they would be willing to special order a specific one for you. You might have better luck with the smaller, locally owned businesses in terms of special orders since they do not typically have to order in such large quantities. If you cannot find them in Radcliff and want to make a trip to Louisville, The Plant Kingdom on Westport Road usually has a few of the American hollies in stock. Wallitsch Garden Center would also be a good source for these evergreens.