Ilex aquifolium, commonly called English holly, is native to Europe, western Asia and north Africa. It is an erect, pyramidal, densely-branched, evergreen tree that typically grows to 30-50’ (less frequently to 80’) tall. It also may be trained and grown as a large shrub (10-15’ tall). Elliptic, leathery, glossy, wavy-margined, evergreen, dark green leaves (1-3” long) have large spiny teeth. Greenish-white flowers appear in May. Flowers are fragrant but generally inconspicuous. Pollinated flowers give way to berry-like red (less frequently orange or yellow) drupes (1/4” diameter) which ripen in fall and persist into winter. Birds are attracted to the fruit. Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Effective as a specimen or in small groups. Foundation plantings. Foliage and fruit provide good color for the winter landscape. Tall hedge. Hardy in zones 7-9.
Growing Instructions for the English Holly
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the spring or summer and they will germinate the next spring or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year. 1. Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours. 2. Warm stratify the seeds for 60 days. 3. Cold stratify the seeds. Put the seeds in a ziplock bag. 4. Put the bag in the refrigerator and leave it there for 60 days. 5. The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the soil in a pot. 6. Sow the seeds 3/8 of an inch deep. 7. Water the soil so that it is moist but not wet. 8. Put the pots in an area that is in shade. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted. Seeds may germinate over a period of 2-3 years.