Holly: Pruning for Hedges and Screens

Holly: Pruning for Hedges and Screens

Holly are popularly used as sheared formal hedges

Hollies are Popularly Used as Dense Sheared Formal Hedges


Nature Hills Nursery offers many evergreen selections of Holly in many forms and sizes. Our nurseries grow many types because they are so desirable in the landscape. Beautiful pointed, serrate, and oak leaf types of foliage that stay on the evergreen varieties year-round. These elegant plants can be used for screening and sheared formal hedges with the added bonus of  cheerful fruit. Most of these plants have sharp pointed leaves that can be sharp so be careful


Sky Pencil Holly In a Loose Screen Sky Pencil Holly


Planning a Hedge for Your Yard   Planning your hedge starts with how many plants you are going to need. The number of plants is determined by the mature size of the plants you are using for your hedge and the size of the area being filled. Let's say you are using a Castle Wall Holly variety that gets to be about 6' tall or more, and spreads about 3-4' wide. You are planting your new plants from Nature Hills that will be delivered in #3 containers, and not at the fully mature size that they will become. You must also decide how quickly you want your new hedge to be a solid screen. If you planted your new plants 3 feet apart, it may take several years for the plants to touch each other. Consider how the bottoms of the hedge will mesh together as an older hedge as well. You may decide you do not want to wait years for the hedge to become a solid screen. In that case you will want to plan on planting them closer together. If you plant your Castle Wall Holly plant every 3 feet on center (which means they can spread 1 ½ feet on each side of the center of the plant before each plant will touch the one next to it), it will make a nice hedge in a fairly short period. Remember that these plants will be wider as they continue to grow and develop and they will start to touch each other. As a hedge (formal sheared hedges or informal, untrimmed hedges) you do want these plants to touch each other. They will grow together with the plant on either side of them, and there is no reason to prevent that from happening. We have seen people trim the plants back into individuals that do not touch and that is not the goal here. The plants that do not touch will not have foliage where they grow together but it is not needed, it is needed on both sides and the top so once you get past that, you will see what it is supposed to look like.










Carissa Holly In a Loose Hedge Carissa Holly is  a Lower Density Hedge







Pruning Your Hedge   The first year or two, very little pruning will be required. Only snipping off any tips that our out of the range of the rest of the plants. You want them to get established quickly, so minimal pruning is required. Let the plants produce lots of new leaves as they are making new food and it will establish the plants sooner than if you sheared them back at the start.     When you do shear these plants into hedges, it is very important to be sure the bottom of the plants are left wider than the topsBy making sure the bottoms of the plants are trimmed wider, the bottom of the plants do not get shaded out. This will ensure that the plants will always have leaves to the ground and that the will always look best. This is not only true for a Holly hedge, but for all hedging plants whether they are deciduous or evergreen plants.  


Evergreen Hollies   Pruning should be done on evergreen Holly plants in early summer simply because the new growth that happens after you prune will allow enough time for that new grow to harden off before winter. The technique for pruning depends upon how the plants are being used,formal hedging, foundation, or screening. Hedge pruning is described above, keeping the bottoms wider than the tops. The rounded, dwarf selections should also be pruned in early summer for the same reason, and to maintain the rounded habit either sheared more formally or informally.    Some of the larger evergreen varieties include Nellie Stevens, Castle Spire, Sky Pencil, Sky Box, Acadiana, Oakland and Oakleaf. These make a large, robust growing, classy backdrop to a shrub or perennial border, or outstanding screening or hedge plants. Sky Pencil and Sky Pointer are tall and super skinny and have a unique look to them. These varieties are excellent hedges that need little if any pruning unless you want to maintain them at a specific height. The other great thing you can do with these varieties is to shear them as single specimen plants into a nice pyramidal Christmas tree shape for great outdoor decorating for the holiday season.



Berry Nice Holly Berries In the Winter

Berry Nice Holly's Berries In the Winter 


Deciduous Hollies    Deciduous type Holly plants lose their leaves in fall. That means they are naked in the winter except for the fruit display on the female plants. These plants are large growers and offer no screening during the winter months. Many people use them in front of evergreens to show off that incredible fruit display. These plants are not a good candidate for sheared hedges. They work best when allowed to grow more naturally by not reducing the size when trimming back. These plants are best pruned by removing the oldest stems out to the ground and allowing the newer, younger shoots to grow and develop. This method of pruning is called renewal pruning. Use these deciduous plants for larger screening, or along water logged areas and natural sites for a more natural look. 


* Evergreen Holly plants are elegant and very versatile in the landscape
* Deciduous Holly plants are excellent stars in the winter landscape
* Adaptable to many soil types and sites
* Easily acclimates for many uses
* Beautiful, glossy green leaves on the evergreen types, and the female plants have showy fruit that makes them doubly desirable
* Even the male plants that don't fruit are extremely elegant and a classic addition to any landscape
* Many different mature sizes and forms offer endless design options... you can get creative!
* Shear into formal hedges both large and small, or allow to grow informally for more natural looking hedges and screening
* You will be ecstatic with the year-round interest in your landscape  


Check out our selection of holly plants!    

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