Noteworthy Holly News...


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2014 . 2015 . 2016

December 21, 2016
Ilex Opaca
"William Hawkins", this narrowleaf form was found on a tree growing in Mr. Hawkins yard in Mentone, Alabama. It is a male, dwarf sport with long spiny leaves. It is hardy in zone 5. (Joe)

Holly Society of America

December 17, 2016

Hollysicles, anyone? This is what 'Miss Helen' looks like today during our ice storm. (Jim)

Holly Society of America

December 17, 2016
Icy here too in Delaware...this is Ilex opaca 'Steward's Silver Crown' getting weighed down with freezing rain. (Jim)

Holly Society of America

December 17, 2016
Ilex x koehneana 'Wirt L. Winn' on an icy morning in South Central Pennsylvania (Sue)

Holly Society of America

December 15, 2016

Perhaps not a well known holly - Ilex mucronata formally classified as Nemopanthus mucronatus is a deciduous holly related to Ilex amelanchier found in eastern North America. Drupes ripen in Aug for me. I am fond of the shade of red. (David O)

Holly Society of America

December 15, 2016
A bright spot in the landscape on a frigid day in the northeast.
I am not 100% certain, judging by the height and thickness of stems I suspect it may be ilex 'Sparkle berry'. Which is a hybrid cross between our native winterberry, Ilex verticillata and its Japanese counterpart Ilex serrata. (Mike Runkel)

Holly Society of America

December 14, 2016

A warm fall has lent itself well to the ripening of fruit on this gorgeous Ilex cornuta 'Rotunda'. In a typical year the fruit fall of the plant a mute red, this year however they are a vibrant red.(Mike)

Holly Society of America

December 11, 2016
Ilex X meserveae X Ilex latifolia. Most are bush - form a few tree-form. Hardy in zone 6b, probably colder. Quite vigorous. (David O)

Holly Society of America

December 8, 2016
"Yellow berries just seem to glow like Christmas lights," said one visitor to the garden on a gray December day. This one is the American holly 'Canary'. (Jim)

Holly Society of America

December 4, 2016
My hybrid Ilex fargesii X Ilex latifolia. Some damage in zone 6b. I have it poorly sited in full shade. It probably would do better in full sun and more summer heat. I find that in my northern, maritime, cool summer climate all hollies prefer full sun. (David O)

Holly Society of America


September 27, 2016
Ilex pedunculosa, or Longstalk Holly is an interesting specimen plant to mix in with other shrubs or stand alone. Extremely hardy and evergreen, the deer will pass this one up ! (Sue)

David Klemm Will this take full sun?

Holly Society of America, Inc. Yes, and does well in partial shade as well. (Sue)

David Resavage I have two male plants and 2 female plants that I’ve been raising from 1 gallon for 2 years now... I can’t wait to find a home for them they already flower and fruit

David Osborn Agreed. Ilex opaca and Ilex pedunculosa are the only evergreen hollies that the deer don’t eat in my garden.

David Osborn Ilex aquifolium is more spiny and the deer and rabbits love it.

Arabella Trefoil We have voracious deer who will eat anything. But they will not go near the Ilex opaca. But that’s a real prickly-leaved tree. I get stabbed all the time when I’m weeding the flower beds under them. The dried leaves HURT when they prick you.

Holly Society of America

September 22, 2016
Welcoming fall - this winterberry (Ilex verticillata 'Maryland Beauty') always develops great color in its fruit early in the fall season. The leaves drop early, too, making cut branches especially nice for holiday decorations by early December. (Jim)

Holly Society of America

September 18, 2016
Ilex verticillata 'Red Sprite' shown here with Aster 'Days Blue' makes for a striking color combination in the Fall garden. (Sue)

Holly Society of America

September 18, 2016

Chlorophyll is just beginning to drain from the fruits of this American holly, 'Bear Crossing'. Red color will soon develop, and peak in about six weeks. (Jim)

Holly Society of America

August 27, 2016
First berry blush; the early blooming Winterberries are letting us know that Autumn is just around the corner. (Sue)

Holly Society of America

August 23, 2016
Who else likes holly? This Pawpaw Sphinx caterpillar, for one. Fortunately, they're rarely too numerous and won't cause much damage to your hollies. But they are certainly are large and impressive! (Jim)

Holly Society of America

August 20, 2016
Twilight glow - this English holly 'Golden Butterfly' lights up a dark corner of the garden as daylight fades. (Jim)

Holly Society of America

August 16, 2016

The darker green shrubs are Ilex verticillata 'After Glow', part of a large, long planting of approximately 12 specimen on a private estate in SW York, Pennsylvania. They are successfully pollinated every year by I.v 'Jim Dandy '. The berry set is good, but as the season progresses, they consistently drop off. The location is high, upper Piedmont on a steep slope with competitive large trees. My first inclination is that any rainwater being absorbed by the ground is immediately taken up by the trees and not available when the Ilex verticillata needs it to retain berry set. I've advised the Gardener to drip irrigate from April through September. Anyone grow 'Afterglow' ?Thoughts or comments?

I've had similar problems with my winterberries growing in a swale under maple and sweet gum trees. When there is adequate rainfall, they're fine (even flooded), but in dry summers the maples especially are thugs. I found deep watering as soon as the leaves begin to wilt and the first signs of wrinkles appear in the fruit will save the crop. Otherwise, the green fruits drop in August-September. So far this year has had adequate rainfall, however. (Jim)

Spoke too soon...had to water my winterberries today for the first time this season. (Jim)

Holly Society of America

August 15, 2016
Keep watering! Despite near-record August temperatures, many container-grown hollies are still pushing out new growth and sometimes even flowers. This variegated American holly has added several inches in the past two weeks. (Jim)

David Klemm Does American Holly typically put out later summer flushes? Or are yours responding to fertilizer?

My potted holly hybrids really seem to respond to even small amounts of fertilzers by putting on multiple flushes throughout the summer.

Holly Society of America, Inc. Perhaps... Mine get Osmocote Plus in the spring and it should still be releasing until at least September

Holly Society of America

August 11, 2016
A sweltering day here in the Mid-Atlantic region propagating hollies (Sue)

In my opinion this is the best time. Rooting takes place in 8 weeks and cuttings have a few months to become established in the greenhouse or cold frame before winter. (Sue)
Yes, KIBA, and smooth wound over the node on the sticking end

Tim , I use 1/2 peat and 1/2 perlite. Yes, intermittent mist is a must . KIBA for the rooting hormone, mix it myself at different rates depending on the temperature, weather conditions, and the particular stage of the cutting wood . I have used sand before, but one needs to watch that there is adequate drainage around the wounded cutting (Sue)

The best time ever is in August (Sue)

Arabella Trefoil We have an abundant crop of berries this year. The branches are starting to droop a bit under the weight. This is a great year for Ilex opaca in southern CT.

That's great! The opacas are pretty heavy here, too . Earlier blooming species didn't fare as well with the late frosts this spring. (Sue)

Holly Society of America

August 9, 2016

The self-healing tree - Sapsuckers damaged this Dragon Lady holly last winter, but now new callus tissue (in this case yellowish colored wood) is growing in to close the wounds. (Jim)

Holly Society of America

August 3, 2016
David Klemm I have three Ilex aquifolium 'argentea marginata' and they do great for me. They are in all different exposures. I'm not sure if it's necessary, but I give them a bit of supplemental moisture in summer, if we don't get much rain (like this summer -- again). They do sucker readily so that makes propagation quite simple!

I give this one extra water in dry summers too. But it's planted on its own mini-berm to keep it well-drained. English hollies need to be coddled a bit in my garden (this one gets partial shade) but they are worth it! (Jim)

That's funny. I have many more problems with Ilex crenata. 'Hoogendorn' is a really nice holly, but boy is it hard to get established (for me). Also 'Hellerei'. Mine are dying. Too much sun? Too wet? not sure. (David)

I've also lost 'Helleri' after it looked good for several years - when I dug it out I found the roots had girdled the plant. Evidently the original grower left it in the container too long and I didn't realize it on planting. (Jim)

Holly Society of America

August 2, 2016
If Goldilocks had spines - this English holly is thriving in our not-too-hot summer, after a not-too-cold winter. Moreover, it has been a not-too-dry summer after a not-too-wet spring. Enjoy it while it lasts! (Jim)

Holly Society of America


May 21, 2016
Eye-catching color on the new growth of this Ilex x altaclerensis 'Golden King'. (Jim)

David: Do you have Golden King in the ground? How does it do for you? Are tea scale ever a problem?

Holly Society of America, Inc. This one came from ForestFarm, the mail order nursery. They don't seem to offer it at the present, but it wouldn't hurt to contact them. (Jim)

Holly Society of America


May 19, 2016
Equal time for the ladies! Here are female flowers, opening on the American holly
'Miss Helen'. (Jim)

Holly Society of America


May 13, 2016
Nice variegation on this English holly, 'Golden Butterfly', which is now in bloom on
last year's wood. (Jim)

Holly Society of America


May 12, 2016
Ilex opaca 'Glen Ellen' originated at Mcleans Nursery in Baltimore County, Maryland. Named for the infamous Glen Ellen Castle which once stood on what is now the Loch Raven Watershed, this gorgeous female selection boasts leaves larger than one of it's presumed parents, Ilex opaca 'Satyr Hill'. (Sue)

Holly Society of America  


May 10, 2016
One of the best trees for wildlife , Ilex opaca provides protection for
Mother Robin and her precious nest. (Sue)

Holly Society of America


May 7, 2016
Neither rain nor snow... These female flowers are just beginning to open on an unusual Asian holly, Ilex sugerokii, after a week of cool wet weather. (Jim)

Holly Society of America


March 16, 2016
"What's wrong with my holly?" is a question that we hear over and over this time of year. Hollies naturally shed their leaves during the springtime , which is the opposite of deciduous trees. As new growth begins to push out , leaves on inner branches turn yellow and drop. If the winter has been an extremely hard one , the shedding can be quite heavy. While this can be unsightly for a while , it only takes a few months for the trees to fill out and regain their beautiful dark green foliage. (Sue) 

Tammy Boyle When should the holly be pruned?

Holly Society of America, Inc. Probably too late now - next window of opportunity would be July/August and then late November thru mid-February. (Sue)

Holly Society of America


March 14, 2016
Ilex opaca 'Bear Crossing' looking pretty in a one gallon pot - ready to be lined out in the field soon . (Sue) 

Holly Society of America, Inc. 'Bear Crossing' is one of my favorite opacas to grow. It roots well, transplants well, grows in a container with branching occurring , and transitions to the field well. (Sue)

Arabella Trefoil I've never seen 'Bear Crossing'. It's very pretty.

Holly Society of America, Inc. Holly Society of America, Inc. It's one of Jim's introductions. (Sue)

Holly Society of America, Inc. Holly Society of America, Inc. This tree taught me the importance of selecting good plants from the wild and propagating them promptly for wider distribution. Within a decade of selecting this tree and propagating hundreds of cuttings for the Holly Society, railroad crews cut down the parent plant. That could have been a disaster! (Jim) 

Holly Society of America, Inc. It's on the original right-of-way of the New Castle-Frenchtown Railroad in Delaware, dating back to the 1830s. Nowadays, it's owned by the Norfolk Southern Railway. (Jim) 

Holly Society of America


March 9, 2016
Ilex opaca 'Old Heavy Berry' 

Tylerand- I just love seeing these native cultivars. I hate seeing them buried by non native hollies. I just had a friend ship me "Volunteer orange" from Tennessee to plant here in northwest Missouri.

Holly Society of America, Inc. Holly Society of America, Inc. I'm in total agreement with you, Tyler. There is so much diversity within the opaca species, just waiting to be discovered yet ! Let us know how your 'Volunteer Orange ' does, sounds very exciting! (Sue)

Holly Society of America


March 2, 2016
David Klemm Here's the non-spiny 'Round-leaf' Fosters growing at the US Arboretum. Just wish I knew more about the origins and history of this soft-foliaged, totally-spineless small tree. Is it as hardy? Is it easy to propagate?, etc. I think if it's robust, it would be an improvement on Fosters #2, although the leaves are a tad larger.

Holly Society of America


March 1, 2016
Can you keep a secret? Hungry birds have not yet found all the gorgeous fruit on this Foster's holly (Ilex x attenuata 'Foster's #2'). (Jim)

James Wick The fruit simply has not fermented yet. Many birds are alcoholic creatures and wait for some berry species such as holly, pyracantha, and hawthorn to get a nice proof to them before eating.... Then they fly into your windows.

Holly Society of America, Inc. Love that explanation, James! I have disposed of several dead robins this winter already beneath my windows.

Arabella Trefoil We have many holly berries left on the Ilex opaca and the Ilex verticillata. We had a "bumper year" in holly berry production last summer. I'm speaking about plants located in Greenwich CT. Just a bit further south, in Westchester County NY, we did not have such an abundance of holly berries.

Holly Society of America, Inc. This tree is a standalone specimen in a commercial landscape near Baltimore MD. Birds have gotten to almost all other trees in the area already. (Jim)

Holly Society of America


February 22, 2016
Dusted with snow, this is a variegated American holly, 'Steward's Silver Crown' (Jim)  

Holly Society of America


February 14, 2016
Happy Valentines Day from the Holly Society of America Ilex opaca 'Patapsco' , discovered as a chance seedling in the woods in Ellicott City, Maryland. (Sue)

I continue to be amazed at the wealth of biodiversity present in our native plant populations. Not only is this a beautiful plant, but there's no doubt a holly like 'Patapsco' will be well suited to the soils and climates from the region where it was selected. Nice one! (Jim)

Yes, found 25 years ago in the woods by a gardening enthusiast, the tree was relocated and is presently growing in Crossroads, PA. It is approximately 30' + tall, and has a strong, straight trunk and central leader. Overall habit is typical of the species, although the leaves are consistently smaller, as are the internodes. Beautiful orange-red berries are consistently prolific. I was approached recently by the owner to propagate it and introduce it to the Nursery trade. ( Sue )  

Rory- Our birds hide in the holly outside the kitchen window and hop to the bird feeders next to it. They hide inside and avoid the wind but can still get to the bird seed. Beautiful bush! 

Arabella Trefoil Fascinating. I've only ever come across one "volunteer" ivy. It was Ilex opaca and it was three inches tall. I kept watch over it and watched the Ilex opaca grow over the years. 

Holly Society of America



February 13, 2016
Patience! Spring comes next month. (Jim)

Right, David...that's 'Steed's Upright' - well, at least it it's a little more like 'Steed's Hunched Over' (Jim) 

Holly Society of America


February 12, 2016
Ilex 'SparkleBerry' with a wonderful snowy backdrop.(M. Runkel)

Arabella- Lovely! That's a deciduous holly isn't it? What a dramatic contrast between the red berries and the dark branches. Viewing the holly against the background of snow shows the ivy off nicely. 

Holly Society of America, Inc. - Yes it is a deciduous holly, it is a hybrid cross between our native winterberry Ilex verticillata and its Japanese relative Ilex serrata.

Paul - The robins have cleaned off almost every berry here. Don't they know they should be in Disney world, not Indiana? 

Holly Society of America


February 7, 2016
Berry bonanza! This fruitful holly is Winter Bounty, a tradename for the ciliospinosa x latifolia hybrid 'H635-13' developed at Rutgers University. Its smooth evergreen leaves are reminiscent of a cherry laurel. But as it lacks protective spines, be sure to shield this holly from hungry deer and rabbits! (Jim) 

I'm zone 6b, and mine is barely clinging to life. Was killed last winter, I left it in the ground, it flushed slightly this spring, but doesn't look good right now. (Sue)

Oops - forgot to say, it's hardy in Zone 6. (Jim)

Jim, you are so right about the rabbits on 'Winter Bounty'. I put up some 24-inch high fencing around it this winter, but wasn't counting on getting a 24-inch snow. More rabbit damage again...and further up this time. Deer don't seem to bother them. I have put bird netting around it now to prevent further damage. But I have to remove the bird netting in summer, because snakes get caught in it. I had to extricate a black snake and a garter snake last summer. Not fun.

April - I've been bitten just once, but that was enough to give me pause every time I go to catch one of these. They show up at my backyard pond, with a taste for sushi. So I just catch them and deport them, wherever my enemies live. 

Holly Society of America


February 6, 2016
Ron - Here's an American Holly growing as a street tree in Dover, Delaware (the American Holly is Delaware's State Tree, BTW)

Great point, David. That's a very insightful comment for people planning their landscapes. Folks looking for a narrower American holly can still choose some fairly narrow cultivars. 'Satyr Hill' comes to mind, and 'Freeman' if you can find it. Otherwise, it's possible to keep American hollies narrow if you're into regular pruning - but I'd much rather work with what the plant "wants" to be than have to coerce it. (Jim)

Ron - Holly Society of America, Inc. I didn't realize that 'Satyr Hill' was a narrower cultivar. I have one in my garden. What dimensions can I expect it to grow to? Right now it is about 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide (at it's widest).

Holly Society of America, Inc. Holly Society of America, Inc. I have Satyr Hill in my nursery at 15' by 8' wide. Another narrow growing opaca selection is Marth's Vineyard. (Sue)

Ron - I'm good with that because I planted my 'Satyr Hill' is a narrow-ish space! 

Holly Society of America


February 3, 2016
Maryland Biodiversity Project
One of my favorite areas on the Eastern Shore is a large patch of wooded swamp along Old Bradley Road in Wicomico County that is accessed by walking the Tom Tyler Trail. Old Bradley Road is one of those special Delmarva dirt roads that weaves through Loblolly Pine woods with patches of Mountain Laurel and American Holly and old cutovers with Bushy Bluestem growing in the wet areas. The Tom Tyler Trail starts from an overgrown parking area (there is a sign) and meanders through the woods towards the Nanticoke River. After about half a mile you will come to a clearing where there is a small kiosk with some information about Tom Tyler. A dilapidated picnic table sits off by the edge of a dense Mountain Laurel thicket that surrounds a high open sandy area with stunted Water Oaks and thin patches of huckleberry.

Continuing on, the trail begins to narrow as you enter the White Cedar Swamp. During the cooler months, the tall spindly cedars are easily observed along with the red fruit of Common Winterberry and Coral Greenbrier, which weaves thornless vines across the top of the shrub layer. In some areas the trail becomes difficult to follow but it eventually leaves the swamp and climbs back into the Loblolly Woods and back to Old Bradley Road. 

In my opinion, winter is one of the best times to visit the Tom Tyler Trail. In the warmer months every tick, chigger, and deer fly descends upon this area of Wicomico County. However, the discovery of a blooming Pink Lady Slipper, the song of a Summer Tanager, or the sight of a fresh Brown Elfin nectaring on a blooming Highbush Blueberry seems to make it worth a couple days of scratching. Photo of the Tom Tyler Trail in winter -- Jim Brighton, 1/25/14.

 Holly Society of America


January 30, 2016
Virginia Native Plant Society Like This Page January 30 Edited Piedmont Natives recommends our native American holly, (Ilex opaca), as an excellent candidate for urban streets. This one photographed by Lonnie Murray in Lynchburg. We hear some are doing well in Pulaski, too, where Cedar waxwings are enjoying the thoughtful addition of snacks for birds. 

Are you sure that's an opaca ? Looks like it could be a Foster Holly. Hard to say from the picture. Sue

Piedmont Natives Foster's holly is a cross of Ilex cassine x Ilex opaca. How would one ID that it isn't the straight species? (I assumed it was Ilex opaca, American Holly, because it is the most upright and less shrubby of the hollies grown.) We have a contractor who is proposing "American Holly" for street trees in Albemarle for a project, so it sounds like we should be wary of similar hybrids. Interestingly, Ilex cassine is also a SE native species (NC - FL) so that would make it a cross of two SE natives. These are widely planted around Lynchburg so we'd be very interested if anyone there could settle the ID about whether it is the straight species or a hybrid.

Sue - From the picture, this does not appear to be Ilex opaca. It definitely appears to be Foster Holly, which as you mentioned is a hybrid - cassine opaca. If you could post a close up of the foliage, it would be easier to say for sure. But Foster Holly is definitely grown in the Nursery trade as an upright tree and used as such quite extensively in your region. It is good to be wary of other hybrids, because this particular holly cross is often mislabeled as Ilex opaca. 

If you wish, please send me a PM, and I will refer your questions to the Taxonomy Committee of the Holly Society of America, or you can post your question on our Facebook page, Holly Society of America. Just trying to help, as this is a very common mistake in the horticultural world, especially in the South.

Virginia Native Plant Society - we just noticed that our Botany Chair had also written a PM asking for a close up of the leaf to help determine exact species. Not sure how quickly that can be done, but will post on it when it happens. Thanks for your input, we all learn from these conversations.

Lonnie - Next time I'm in Lynchburg I will unless someone else beats me to it. Sounds like this is the same problem as plants registered as "Heuchera" which are often hybrids with Tiarella. Are there commercially available Illex opaca that are known to be the strait species? While avoiding cultivars is ideal, for large projects it is often unavoidable. 

Sue - Yes, Ilex opaca is definitely available commercially. Please send a pm for more information if you are interested 

Holly Society of America


January 26, 2016
Covered in ice? Resist the urge to "help" your plants and let them thaw out on their own. Or better yet, photograph them! (BTW, This one is Ilex crenata 'Steeds Upright) (Jim) 

Arabella- Excellent rule! Hollies are pretty tough. That's one of the many things that make them fascinating. 

Holly Society of America


January 25, 2016
A real gem. Ilex verticillata 'Red Sprite' amongst the snow at Bayard Cutting Arboretum.(Mike Runkel) One of the better cultivars for a home landscape, large fruit on a diminutive plant. 

Holly Society of America


January 24, 2016
A snow like the Mid - Atlantic region just received is as hard on the landscape as it is on us. The best thing for trees and shrubs is to let Mother Nature melt the snow and ice off of the branches. Very often when we try to do it ourselves, we wind up doing even more damage by snapping off already stressed limbs. Plants such as this American Holly are naturally resilient, and will bounce back on their own. (Sue)

Holly Society of America


January 23, 2016
Outstanding Evergreen for Small Gardens - Ilex Liberty (a trademarked name for 'Conty') is featured in the Jan./Feb. issue of The American Gardener, in Andrew Bunting's article on p. 25. Liberty has large, glossy leaves with 15-20 pairs of soft spines. It grows rather slowly, with an attractive pyramidal habit, and matures at 8-12 feet tall. Occasional red fruit adds to its winter interest. (Jim) 

Liberty can be hard to find, unless you are in the market for larger, balled-and-burlapped specimens. (Commercial landscapers can usually get their hands on the bigger plants.) It's plant patented, meaning unauthorized asexual propagation is prohibited, so unlike other hollies, nurseries aren't allowed to root cuttings and sell plants. (Jim)

The plant patent, US PP12,009 was filed on Nov. 15, 1999. Its term runs for 20 years - after that, anyone can legally propagate the plant, and we might expect it to become more widely available. (Jim)

Beautiful , Jim. Do you know the hardiness range for this selection ? (Sue) Should be great in Zones 6-9. The leaves will bronze a bit in below-zero temperatures, however. (Jim)

Holly Society of America


January 16, 2016
Ilex opaca 'Dan Fenton ' on a January day. With maroon undertones, the very dark green leaves are a brilliant contrast with an unusual heavy berry set this year. Selected for cold hardiness to zone 5 and possibly zone 4, this holly is a good choice for Northern climates as well as here in the Mid-Atlantic region. (Sue)

Holly Society of America

January 10, 2016
This crop of Ilex x koehneana cuttings will be ready for planting in May. (Sue)

Holly Society of America


January 6, 2016
At the Middle Atlantic Nursery Trade Show, beautiful display of Ilex verticillata, 'Maryland Beauty', 'Winter Gold ', and 'Chrysocarpa' (Sue)

Holly Society of America


January 5, 2016
Holly Society of America's 2016 'Holly of the Year' is Ilex opaca 'Maryland Dwarf' . Slow-growing and dense , this Native evergreen is beautiful in borders, mixed in the garden with other species , or can stand alone like this 30 year old specimen in the picture. Thanks to smaller specialty Nurseries , this selection has recently become more available to the public. (Sue)

Holly Society of America



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