DALY: Hollies are attractive and durable plants for the landscape

Of all of the landscape plants, hollies are among the most popular. They grow well in Georgia and are easy to maintain. They come in more than 300 recognized varieties, with more being introduced each year. Some are evergreen while others are deciduous. Hollies are among the most durable and versatile plants in the landscape, withstanding both drought and cold, which certainly lends to their popularity.

Some of the most popular ones in use are the Japanese hollies, Chinese hollies, and yaupon hollies. Japanese hollies have small leaves without spines and produce small black fruit. These types of hollies include: ‘Helleri’ hollies, small in form and not tolerant of poor drainage; ‘Compacta’ is small and rarely grows higher than three feet; other types include ’Hetzi,’ ‘Rotundifolia,’ and ‘Repandens.’

Chinese hollies have shiny, green leaves with spines, often produce excessive amounts of berries and can grow to a large size. ‘Burford,’ ‘Dwarf Burford,’ and ‘Needlepoint’ varieties are tough, reliable plants once established and can be used as hedges or screens. Some smaller ones are ‘Rotunda’ and ‘Carrissa,’ which have sharp, spiny leaves. If planted under windows, they may discourage burglars.

Yaupon hollies are native to the eastern U. S. and are extremely durable plants that can withstand heat, drought, and on coastal areas they are tolerant of the wind blowing salt water on them. They vary in size from the small ’Nana’ variety reaches is a small shrub that grows to a height of three to five feet, and the large, weeping ‘Pendula,’ which can grow to 15 feet in height. There are a multitude of other types of hollies such as the American holly, English holly, lusterleaf holly, ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly, inkberry, and the deciduous possumhaw and winterberry hollies

Many hollies produce beautiful clusters of colorful berries in the fall or winter. They can provide food for birds, too. Holly plants are either male or female, and only the females produce fruit. For pollination to occur in some species, both sexes need to be planted near each other.

Although hollies are extremely tough once they’re established, they do have some requirements. They prefer well-drained soil that’s amended with organic matter and slightly acidic. Wet soils that are heavily compacted will lead to weak plants. Hollies respond well to mulching and light fertilization. While many will grow in partial shade, most will produce a better berry crop and thrive if given full sunlight.

Hollies are an excellent choice for the home landscape. They are attractive and are easy to maintain.

Winter is a good time to decide on what to plant in your yard. The 2014 Gwinnett County Extension plant sale will be offering a variety of flowering plants, fruit trees, and other plants of interest. Details will be on the Extension website www.gwinnettextension.com soon.

Timothy Daly is an Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension Agent with Gwinnett County. He can be contacted at 678-377-4010 or tdaly@uga.edu.