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High hopes for Honey Maid

Blue holly variegation could thrive in right conditions

It is safe to say that I love hollies! Evergreen or deciduous, with berries or without, it would be hard for me not to like a holly. I have my eye on a variegated Meserve or Blue Holly, Ilex x meserveae, called Honey Maid Blue Holly—and it is beautiful.

Honey Maid has glossy blue green leaves that have a creamy, soft yellow variegation. Its parent plant, Blue Maid, is known to be one of the best of the blue hollies, so I am hopeful that Honey Maid will perform well in the landscape.

There are several important growing conditions that blue hollies need to grow successfully in Kentucky. While most websites say they will grow in full sun, I have found that they do better in part shade in this area. I believe our hot summers can be stressful on this northern holly, particularly if planted in full sun. A moist site also is important. In my own garden, I have watched blue holly suffer in an area where the soil is consistently dry, while in my daughter’s garden, where they are planted in a site that is consistently moist, they thrive.

Honey Maid Blue Holly can grow up to 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide. It tends toward a pyramidal shape in maturity and is shrubbier in youth. It responds well to pruning, so you can keep it trimmed or shaped as you see fit. It can also produce pretty red berries that are showy in the winter, but to get fruit, you will need a male pollinator like Blue Prince within 300 feet or so for pollination.

Using plants with variegated foliage is one way to bring color to the garden without depending on a short flowering period. They can be used as an accent plant or as a foundation planting, but how you choose to use them simply depends on your personal taste and garden style.

SHELLY NOLD is a horticulturist and owner of The Plant Kingdom. Send stories and ideas to her at The Plant Kingdom, 4101 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40207.

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