Holly Perennial Evergreen and Red Holly Berries

Part of the You Can Learn Landscaping and Gardening series.
By Ken Brown
Editor, YouCanLearnSeries.com
June 4, 2008

Are you looking for a partial shade plant? Try out the Holly in your partial sun or partial shade portion of your yard. The Holly adds interest to your yard in many different ways. It is an evergreen plant and thus will show green leaves throughout the year. This makes it interesting in winter as a backdrop to snow covered lawns and landscapes. The female plant will produce little red berries that show off a little color during the winter months and makes for food for winter birds and small mammals.

Because it is only the female plant that produces berries, then you will need to buy a female plant and a male plant. This will help pollinate the female plant to produce the berries for winter. There are now cultivars that are genetically altered to be both a boy and girl Holly in one. With these Holly cultivars you only need the one plant to produce the berries. I have one in my yard and it does produce berries on its own. I also have recently purchased a male and female species of Holly for my yard.

Protect the Holly from Harsh Winter Winds

The Holly needs a little help in winter if you are planting the Holly in Northern Illinois or farther north. It is recommended you provide some form of protection from the winter winds. Maybe wrap them in burlap of if they are planted on the eastern side of your home they are probably okay. Sometimes if they are protected by a fence or a group of pines they will survive the winter. I forgot to cover mine this last winter of 2007 / 2008 and they were severely injured.

Even though Hollies are hardy and can give you years of enjoyment, the first 3 to 5 years resist pruning them. They will grow rather spindly, but it is best to wait for a time before your first pruning. Once the plant has taken to liking it's new home then it will take most of the abuse you can throw at it.

Plant your Hollies in moist well drained soils in partial sun, partial shade or even almost full shade. In full shade they are not robust in their growth, but they will grow and survive. The Holly blooms in late spring with white flowers. They can grow to be very large, with heights exceeding 9 feet and spreading from 4 feet to 9 feet wide.

Perennial Partial Sun
Plant in soil with good drainage Requires little care
Grows 9 to 18 feet tall Spreads 4 to 9 feet wide
Flowers in late spring Flowers are white

Click on Holly photo to see larger photo.
The Holly is an evergreen that grows in Partial Sun.
The Holly works well in partial shade and partial sun. Protect the Holly from harsh winter winds.

Click on photo to see Hollies used in a landscape design.
The Holly can be used in landscape designs for partial shade.
The Holly works well in landscape designs providing food for wintering birds and winter interest.


The Holly comes in a variety of cultivars. Remember to get a male cultivar such as Jim Dandy and Southern Gentleman. Harvest Red, Winter Red and Red Sprite are female varieties. You can also get "Boy Girl Hollies" which are genetically altered to self pollinate.

The Holly works wonders in a variety of landscape designs. Use it as a backdrop or keep it close to the house so you can watch the birds in winter. Of course use the clippings in winter for your Christmas holiday decorations. We have a couple of landscape designs on this web site that use the holly. There is the Landscape Design for Shady Areas and also the Landscape Design for Holly, Coral Bells and Yew. Check out these great designs and see if the Holly is right for your yard.

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