How to plant holly bushes

Updated April 17, 2017

When buying holly bushes, choose plants that have a good height. Holly bushes tend to be slow growers, so smaller shrubs may have a hard time keeping up with the speed of your maturing landscape. Holly berries may be red, black or yellow, depending on their species. If you want your holly to produce berries you must plant both female and male bushes so pollination will occur, or you will need to buy holly bushes that will self-pollinate. Ask a professional at the garden centre for clarification of shrub genders if the shrubs are not labelled, or to locate self-pollinating varieties.

Plant your holly bushes in areas where you plan to keep them permanently, because holly bushes do not transplant well. Choose a spot that has partial shade throughout the day. Holly can grow in both shade and sun, but most varieties do best when they have semi-shade.

Plant your holly bushes when the weather is cool, such as late autumn, early winter or early spring. Many growers prefer to plant holly in early spring as it gives the bushes time to mature and develop a strong root system before winter.

Read the planting instructions that come with your holly bushes. Different varieties have different spacing requirements. Most holly bushes should be planted 1.5 metres (5 feet) apart.

For each bush, dig a hole that is three times the diameter of the container and a bit deeper than the root ball. If you find you've dug the hole too deep, simply replace some of the dirt.

Place the holly bush in the hole and backfill with soil.

Water the newly planted bushes.

Fertlise your holly bushes in late spring with a low-nitrogen fertiliser.


Prune your holly shrubs in late spring. These shrubs are hardy and can withstand heavy pruning and shaping.

Water holly during dry spells in the spring and summer.

Plant one male holly bush for every two female bushes.


If your holly bushes don't produce berries, the bushes either are male or they are females that haven't been pollinated by male bushes.

Things You'll Need

  • Holly bushes
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Low-nitrogen fertliser
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