EXTENSION CONNECTION: Holly plants in the Florida landscape

Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 09:56 AM.

The holly genus, Ilex, offers a variety of plants from which to choose.

There are about 700 species worldwide, some horticulturists estimate. And there is a great number of cultivated varieties. 

Not all hollies have spiny leaves. Many of the Japanese hollies (Ilex crenata) have spineless leaves. They are often mistaken for boxwoods with their small, shiny leaves. But boxwoods (Buxus) leaves are attached directly opposite one another on the stem, while holly leaves have an alternate leaf arrangement along the stem.

Holly plants range from 2 to more than 60 feet tall. Some dwarf types are great choices for foundation plantings. These include Helleri holly, Carissa holly, Dwarf yaupon holly and Stokes dwarf, thought to be the same cultivar as Shilling dwarf.

Don’t let the word dwarf fool you. Many hollies in this category may reach 3 to 5 feet tall. And Dwarf Burford may grow 8 feet or taller.

Some “tree form” hollies can reach heights approaching 60 feet. These can stand alone as specimen plants or may provide a tall hedge. A few hollies that form large shrubs or small trees include many of the American holly cultivars such as Miss Helen, Hedgeholly and Savannah.

Hollies respond well to pruning if needed, but it’s best to know the mature height before planting to avoid future problems of overgrown plants and unnecessary pruning.

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