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Interesting Facts

Branches of I. aquifolium with berries are often used as Christmas decorations, the practice surviving from pre-Christian solstice celebrations. The dense, white wood of the holly is also used for carved decorations and chess pieces (the white ones).

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Winterberry Holly   Berry Heavy® (Ilex verticillata)

Large, red berries put on a spectacular show in the winter. Branches can be cut in early winter for decorative uses. Jim Dandy should be used as the male shrub. Yellow to purple tinged fall foliage color.

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Plant Types: Perennial, Shrub
Light: Partial Shade to Full Sun
Height: 6 feet to 8 feet
Width: 10 feet to 10 feet 10 inches
Zones: 3 to 9
Bloom Seasons: Mid summer, Late summer, Early fall, Mid fall, Late fall
Leaf Color: Green
Special Features: Attracts birds, Deer resistant, North American native
Shape: Upright or erect
Fertilizer: Miracle-Gro® Nursery Select Miracid® Water Soluble Plant Food
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Plant Care

Dig a hole one foot wider and about as deep as the plant's rootball. Do not plant too deep. Roots should be visible at the surface of the soil and the top of the rootball should be even with the surrounding soil. In clay soil, the rootball should be slightly higher.

Remove plants from their containers. Place plants in hole. Loosen roots by making four or five slashes, about one-inch deep vertically down the rootball with a knife. Then tease the roots out so they will grow into the surrounding soil. Be careful not to knock too much soil from the rootball.

Backfill with a mix of existing soil and 1/2 soil amendment thoroughly mixed. In sandy porous soils, use sphagnum (Canadian) peat moss. In dense clay or poorly drained soils, use soil conditioner (finely ground pine bark).

Water thoroughly. Then only water when the soil is dry to the touch about 1 1/2 inches or knuckle deep. Check regularly and only water when necessary.

To give your new plant a head start, use a very mild solution of water soluble root-stimulating fertilizer which is high in phosphorous and potassium.


You can remove branches at Christmas time for decorations, combining with yearly pruning.

Plant Growth:

Holly have glossy leaves that sparkle in the sun and bright red berries, edible by birds. Only female plants yield berries, but a male plant is needed. Green hollies refer partial or full shade, but variegated hollies do best in full sun.


In the spring, tiny white flowers appear at the base of the leaves of the previous year's growth. Berries will only follow if both male and female plants are present.

Soil and Irrigation:

Most types prefer acid soils but are otherwise fancied in their preferences and somewhat adaptable. Usually tolerate drought, urban and seashore conditions. In drier weather, you can water weekly by soaking the roots.


Use 1-2 pounds of fertilizer per inch of trunk diameter, spread around the tree, to about a foot or so past the tips of the branches, and not touching the trunk. Fertilize either in mid March or late Autumn. Use fertilizer suitable for the soil type and acid-loving, broadleafed, evergreen trees.

Deadheading Not Necessary