Holly Trees and Hedge, a comprehensive guide

With Christmas fast approaching, here’s a detailed look at Common holly or English holly (Holm, Hulver, Hulst)

Common Holly (Ilex aquifolium) is a slow growing, medium sized evergreen plant with dark, glossy, spiky leaves. Small, white flowers appear between May and June, followed by bright red berries on female, pollinated plants from September to early spring. These classic Christmas colours are what makes Holly so popular during the festive season. Holly is not just for Christmas, the summer flowers attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators, essential to the success of any thriving garden.

Common Holly Trees
Common Holly Trees

Holly trees are renowned for a dense crown, upright when young and rounded, rather cone shaped when older. The dark green glossy leaves have a wavy margin with sharp spines. Holly is particularly tolerant of partial or full shade. A mature Holly tree has good drought resistance. It is one of the few native UK evergreen trees, making it suitable for many locations where other “amenity” type plants would be undesirable.

Holly can be used to create a classic ornamental hedge, giving constant cover throughout the year. Little maintenance is required, with a growth rate of 10-20cm per year reaching a maximum size of 4m, holly makes a good tall hedge. Holly wood is very strong and flexible, copes well with strong winds and heavy snowfall. A Holly hedge can be used for windbreaks, maritime exposure, formal hedges and as an intruder deterrent.

Holly Hedge
Holly Hedge

This exceedingly tough hedge / tree thrives in most well drained soils including clay, chalk and acidic. Holly also has a good resistance to honey fungus and mixes well with other evergreen plants such as laurel and privet.

Also excellent for wildlife, holly provides ideal nesting sites for birds and other animals looking for shelter and protection, the spiky leaves deter predators. The Berries are eaten by birds in late winter after frosts have softened the fruit. The berries are safe around farm animals and horses, so you can plant safely, without any concerns.

If you have a specific question about Holly, please get in touch by calling the Tree Nursery or drop us an email.