Ilex - Growing Guide

Ilex Growing Guide

Holly

Holly trees are generally thought of as prickly windbreak trees whose berries make seasonal Christmas decorations. However, the genus is vast and variable, and hollies come in many different shapes and sizes both as regards their leaves and in the way that they grow. Not all species are actually evergreen and many make attractive ornamental trees in the garden with a range of different displays of berries.

All species and varieties of holly which we offer are perfectly hardy but it has to be recognised that male and female flowers are usually (but not always) borne on separate trees. You will need to grow plants of both sexes reasonably close by (or reasonably near common holly, Ilex aquifolium) to obtain a crop of berries on female forms.

Ilex aquifolium has a multitude of different varieties with attractive and different leaves. These are basically smaller windbreak or hedging trees with ornamental value in the garden.

‘Argentea Marginata’

Female

Cream streaked green leaves and abundant red berries

12ft

‘Atlas’

Male

Dark green shiny leaves

15ft

‘Bacciflava’

Female

Striking and unusual yellow berries

30ft

‘Ferox Argentea’

Male

Creamy-white leaf margins on convoluted and puckered leaves with large spines

25ft

‘Golden van Tol’

Female

Pyramidical habit and yellow edged leaves. Orange berries.

12ft

‘J C van Tol’

Female

Dark and nearly spineless green leaves and red berries

20ft

‘Pyramidalis’

 

Self-fertile with a conical upright habit. Red berries.

20ft

‘Silver Queen’

Male

Broad creamy margins to its spiny leaves

30ft

 

Ilex x altaclarensis varieties make larger freestanding ornamental trees in the garden and are generally grown for this purpose often to shelter more tender plants from wind in the lee. Those with variegated foliage perform best in full sun.

 

‘Belgica Aurea’

Female

Creamy edged leaves

40ft

‘Camelliifolia’

Female

This variety grows into a large tree with shiny green leaves and relatively few spines

45ft

Ilex 'Camelliifolia' click for larger image
Ilex 'Camelliifolia'
Ilex 'Camelliifolia'  click for larger image
Ilex 'Camelliifolia'

Ilex x meserveae ‘Blue Prince’ and ‘Blue Princess’ are male and free berrying female forms of the ‘Blue holly’ which are dense, spreading shrubs which resemble L. aquifolium and have similar uses in the garden. 15ft.

Other more unusual specie hollies in the Burncoose catalogue have varying ultimate heights in the garden and varying uses.

I. perado grows with us as a dense thicket 20-30ft tall and, despite coming from the Canary Islands, it makes an excellent hedge or windbreak. Berries persist into the spring and feature with the flowers. This species has been readily self-sown around the gardens here by birds.

I. perado subsp. platyphylla has the largest leaves (6-12in) of any holly we know. It grows to 30ft and spreads quickly by suckering and layering itself. It is the best windbreak we know for being in the teeth of salt laden gales and widely used for this purpose.

Ilex perado subsp. platyphylla as a hedge click for larger image
Ilex perado subsp. platyphylla as a hedge
Ilex  perado subsp. platyphylla as a hedge click for larger image
Ilex perado subsp. platyphylla as a hedge
Ilex  perado subsp. platyphylla click for larger image
Ilex perado subsp. platyphylla

I. crenata ‘Golden Gem’ (Japanese holly) – this is a dwarf growing female holly with golden yellow leaves growing to only 3ft or so. I. crenata varieties can make good informal edging plants in place of diseased box.

I. x koehneana ‘Chestnut Leaf’ is self-fertile with purplish new growth fading to large, glossy green leaves. Grows to around 20ft and is aptly named.

I. springera, Persian holly, is a female berrying species with a spreading habit (15ft x 15ft) and undulating deeply spined leaves. It grows well with us in shade as an interesting ornamental plant.

I. verticellata, Black alder or Winterberry, is a suckering deciduous tree which grows with us to around 15-20ft. It flowers in the spring and produces red fruits.

I. kingiana is coming into production in the nursery along with the fairly similar I. latifolia. Both grow into 25-30ft trees. I. kingiana especially has berries which only really ripen and turn red in the spring providing a great spectacle alongside the flowers. Both species have naturalised themselves here and there in the garden.
 

Ilex kingiana as a tree click for larger image
Ilex kingiana as a tree
Ilex kingiana berries click for larger image
Ilex kingiana berries
Ilex  kingiana berries & new growth click for larger image
Ilex kingiana berries & new growth
Ilex  kingiana berries & new growth click for larger image
Ilex kingiana berries & new growth
Ilex  kingiana berries & new growthclick for larger image
Ilex kingiana berries & new growth
Ilex  kingiana old & new berries click for larger image
Ilex kingiana old & new berries
Ilex kingiana old & new berries click for larger image
Ilex kingiana old & new berries
Ilex dipyrena as tree click for larger image
Ilex dipyrena as tree
Ilex  dipyrena foliage  click for larger image
Ilex dipyrena foliage
Ilex dipyrena click for larger image
Ilex dipyrena
Ilex dipyrena click for larger image
Ilex dipyrena
Ilex latifolia click for larger image
Ilex latifolia
Ilex latifolia click for larger image
Ilex latifolia
Ilex latifolia berries click for larger image
Ilex latifolia berries
Ilex latifolia berries click for larger image
Ilex latifolia berries
Ilex latifolia leaves click for larger image
Ilex latifolia leaves
Ilex latifolia click for larger image
Ilex latifolia
Ilex  latifoliaclick for larger image
Ilex latifolia

Ilex propagation - Video Tip


Ilex acquifolium 'Bacciflava' - Video Tip

Yellow berries for Christmas decorations.


I. verticillata & dimorphophylla - Video Tip


Ilex Species Article


Plants


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