Plant hollies for a beautiful winter garden
In the winter it seems all the evergreens come to life. One group of evergreens that is incredibly diverse in leaf shape and fruit color to height and width are hollies. Some have spiny leaves, others do not, some have red fruit, and many don’t produce fruit at all. It might be difficult to choose just one!
One interesting low-growing holly is Emerald Magic. This evergreen shrub form grows just 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. It can grow in full sun to part shade, but really needs moist soil to perform well in the landscape.
Inkberry holly is another evergreen shrub form but this one has leaves without spines. Sizes can range from 4 to 8 feet tall depending on variety, so choose Compacta Inkberry holly for one that grows only 3 to 4 feet tall.
Foster holly has been around for years and is still popular today. This holly has narrow leaves that are slightly spiny and grows 20 to 30 feet tall. It can make an excellent screen but can also be maintained as a hedge. It is an excellent fruit producer with plants covered in red berries throughout the winter.
A new hybrid holly on the scene is Oakland holly. It has a broad spiny leaf like American holly, but grows only 20 feet tall and is quite narrow at only 8 feet wide. This makes it the perfect anchor plant but is also great when planted as a low-maintenance hedge.
One of my favorite hollies, Winter Red deciduous holly, is not an evergreen at all. In the spring and summer, it seems like an average landscape plant, but in the fall the small green berries start to turn red as the leaves turn yellow and brown and fall to the ground. You are left with a stunning winter display. Don’t be surprised as winter progresses if robins flock in and eat all your holly berries. They are a favorite winter food source for many birds, but robins pay a particular interest in my hollies each year, stripping them clean of berries by the end of December.
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Shelly Nold from December 2016 Issue – 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.