Common holly/Holly Ilex aquifolium


Silver-edged common holly/Holly Ilex aquifolium 'Argentea marginata' © Ita McCobb

Common holly/Holly Latin name

Ilex aquifolium

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Ilex aquifolium Common name

Common holly/Holly

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Common holly/Holly Plant family

Ilex (Aquifoliaceae) – varieties of evergreen or deciduous trees and shrubs grown for their spiky foliage, small white flowers followed by colourful Autumnal berries. To obtain berries you need a female plant and a male plant.

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Common holly/Holly Description

Category: Shrubs or trees

Form: Very upright and dense

Type: Evergreen

Height: 10 metres – shrubs 5 metres

Spread: 5 metres

Leaves: Dark green, wavy-edged, spiny, glossy leaves

Flowers/berries: Small white flowers in Spring followed by colourful Autumn berries (for berries you need both a female plant and a male plant)

Normally grown for: Spiky foliage, small white flowers and colourful Winter berries

Notes: Vulnerable to Holly-leaf miner and Holly aphid. for Hollies to produce berries you need to grow both a female plant and a male plant

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Holly varieties

Variegated holly – Typical species include: Ilex aquifolium 'Silver milkmaid' – Female shrub (syn: 'Milkboy') creamy white leaves edged in dark green/Ilex aquifolium 'Silver queen' – Male shrub with dark green leaves edged in creamy white/Ilex aquifolium' Argentea marginata' – Female tree with dark green leaves finely edged in creamy white/Ilex aquifolium 'Aurifondina' – Female shrub with dark green leaves tipped creamy white (pendulous variety also exists).

Spineless-leaved (or almost) holly – Typical male & female species include: Ilex altaclarensis varieties – fairly rigid, virtually smooth-edged leaves/Ilex chinensis varieties – long dark green leaves with soft teeth, produces lavender coloured flowers/Ilex dipyrena Himalayan holly – leaves becoming spineless with age/Ilex pedunculosa – dark green spineless leaves.

Interesting berried holly – Typical (female) species include: Ilex altaclarensis 'Belgica' – Produces orange red berries/Ilex laevigata Smooth winterberry – Produces orange/red berries/Ilex macrocarpa – Produces large black berries/Ilex verticallata Winterberry – Produces a profusion of long-lasting red berries.

Small holly – Typical species include: Ilex crenata Box-leaved holly/Japanese holly – Evergreen spreading shrub/Ilex altaclarensis 'Golden king' – Female, colourful, bushy shrub/Ilex altaclarensis 'NF Barnes' – Female dense shrub with spine-tipped leaves/Ilex aquifolium Perry's weeping silver – Slow-growing mottle-leaved female tree/Ilex aquifolium 'Ferox' Hedgehog holly – Male shrub whose leaves are totally covered with spines.

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Common holly/Holly Planting preferences

Hardiness: Fully to frost hardy

Soil type: Needs fertile well-drained soil

Planting situation: Sun to partial shade

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Common holly/Holly Uses

Cuttings – especially for red Winter berries

Feature – especially the variegated varieties

Fruit/Berries – non-edible


Rock gardens – small varieties,

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