The Savannah holly is a cultivar of a naturally occurring hybrid of two native holly species. It is a hybrid of the American holly, Ilex opaca and a southern species, the Dahoon holly, Ilex cassine. It was discovered in East Palatka, which is in northern Florida. The Savanna holly is a hardy, widely grows holly that has mid-green leaves and lots of bright red berries.
Appearance: Ilex attenuata typically grows as a multi-stemmed shrub, reaching heights of about 15 to 25 feet (4.5 to 7.5 meters). Its leaves are glossy and oval-shaped, with a slightly serrated edge. The leaves are dark green, and the plant retains its foliage throughout the year.
Berries: Female plants produce small, round berries that ripen from green to red and persist into the winter months. These berries provide a food source for birds and other wildlife.
Landscaping: Savannah Holly is commonly used in landscaping for its attractive appearance and adaptability to various soil types. It can be used as a specimen plant, hedge, or screen due to its dense growth habit.
Growth Conditions: This holly species thrives in full sun to partial shade and prefers well-draining soil. It is relatively drought-tolerant once established but benefits from occasional watering during dry periods.
Wildlife Habitat: The berries of Ilex attenuata are a valuable food source for birds, which aids in attracting wildlife to gardens and landscapes.
Varieties: There are several cultivars of Ilex attenuata available, offering variations in growth habit, leaf size, and berry color.
Seed Preparation: Holly seeds have hard seed coats that need to be scarified or stratified to improve germination rates. Scarification involves nicking or scratching the seed coat to allow water to penetrate. Stratification involves simulating winter conditions to break dormancy.
Scarification: You can scarify the seeds by gently filing or nicking the seed coat using a small file or sandpaper. Be careful not to damage the embryo inside. Alternatively, you can soak the seeds in hot water for a few minutes to soften the seed coat.
Stratification: Place the scarified seeds in a moist growing medium (such as peat moss or vermiculite) inside a plastic bag. Seal the bag and refrigerate it for a period of about 60 to 90 days. This simulates the cold stratification period the seeds would naturally experience over winter.
Sowing Seeds: After stratification, sow the seeds in a seed tray or pots filled with a well-draining potting mix. Press the seeds lightly into the soil, but don't bury them too deep.
Germination: Place the seed tray or pots in a warm, well-lit area with indirect sunlight. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Germination can take several weeks to a few months.
Transplanting: Once the seedlings have developed a few true leaves, you can transplant them into individual pots. Continue to provide them with appropriate care, gradually acclimating them to outdoor conditions if you plan to plant them outdoors.