THE RED HOLLY HYBRIDS are a group of new, beautiful hollies that are finding their way into our gardens. They are a group of smaller, tight pyramidal-shaped hollies whose new growth emerges reddish to reddish purple. The series includes Oakleaf, Festive, Robin, Little Red, and Cardinal, among others.
THESE HYBRID HOLLIES ARE SIMILAR IN SIZE, growing 10 to 15 feet tall and generally no wider than 8’ at maturity. There are subtle differences for each, but all have glossy, dark-green, and prominently spined leaves. Robin is the fastest growing. Oakleaf has the largest leaf. Little Red has the narrowest leaf and is the most rounded in habit. Cardinal, Ilex x ‘Cardinal,’ has the best fruit show that I have personally seen.
INTRODUCED IN THE MID 1990s, they are still considered relatively new. Hardy to USDA zones 6 to 9, all in the Red Holly series appear to be performing well throughout Kentucky. It is an excellent choice for our gardens and is relatively smaller than the commonly planted Foster holly that grows 25 feet tall. Any of the five look good when planted singly, but because of the smaller size they look great when planted in a group or as a tight hedge. For a smaller garden their smaller size allows us to have a grouping, where in the past you could have only planted one Foster or American holly due to their large size.
THE LUSHEST GROWTH OCCURS WHEN PLANTED IN FULL SUN but light shade is tolerated. Moist, well-drained soils are preferred but hollies in general are tolerant of less than favorable conditions. When planted on a poor site, the foliage will not be as dense or glossy and the fruit show diminished. Plant hollies in the spring, summer, or fall for best establishment; water well until they are established, and enjoy them year-round.
ASK THE GARDENER
by Angie McManus
Q I have a 6-year-old prayer plant that I have repotted several times. It keeps getting bigger and bigger and is root-bound again. What can I do with it without killing it?
A It sounds like your prayer plant, Maranta leuconeura, is very happy. Native to Brazil, these tropicals prefer a warm, humid environment with low to medium light. Until spring, cut back on watering and fertilizing. Then you have a couple of options.
First, you can divide it when spring arrives by removing it from the container and dividing the root ball in half. It may be easier to use a pair of gardening scissors or even a gardening fork to separate the roots. Once separated, repot it into a smaller container and spread the roots out so they do not grow in a circular pattern. Use good quality potting, and water and feed as you normally do.
The second option is to root prune your plant. It sounds drastic but it actually revitalizes your plant and you can keep it in the same container without losing any of the foliage. In the spring remove it from the container, lay on its side, and using a pair of pruners or gardening scissors start cutting back the roots a couple of inches all around the root ball, including the bottom. Spread roots and pot as in the first option.
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