How to Care for an English Holly Bush

Written by willow sidhe
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How to Care for an English Holly Bush
English holly berries and foliage. (Christmas holly image by hazel proudlove from

English holly, also known as Christmas holly or by its Latin name, Ilex aquifolium, is an evergreen shrub valued for its attractive foliage, ornamental berries and ease of cultivation. The plant can reach up to 20 feet in height with a spread of 12 feet, though it can be maintained at any desired size with annual pruning. English holly blooms during spring, though the small, white flowers are inconspicuous. Native to Europe, Asia and Africa, English holly makes an ideal planting for perennial borders and hedges in most temperate regions.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Organic mulch
  • Fertiliser
  • Hedge clippers

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  1. 1

    Plant English holly bush during spring in a location that consists of well-drained, fertile soil and receives six to eight hours of full sunlight each day. Space English ivy at least 8 to 12 feet apart to allow plenty of room for the plant's mature size.

  2. 2

    Apply a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch over the ground surrounding English holly to insulate the soil and prevent the growth of competitive weeds. Do not allow the mulch to touch the plant's crown or rotting may occur. Replenish as often as necessary throughout the year.

  3. 3

    Water English ivy once every five to seven days during the first season of active growth. Reduce watering frequency to once every two weeks thereafter, except during periods of extreme heat or drought when the plant should be watered once per week.

  4. 4

    Feed the bush once per year during early spring before new growth begins. Use a balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertiliser to provide proper nutrition for berry, foliage and root development. For the best results, apply at the rate recommended by the manufacturer.

  5. 5

    Prune English ivy bush once per year during winter to improve the plant's overall health and visual appearance. Use hedge clippers to remove all diseased and damaged limbs, and cut back all overgrown limbs to maintain the desired size.

Tips and warnings

  • Burn diseased growth at a remote location far away from your lawn or garden to prevent the spread of fungal spores.
  • Use pine straw, evergreen boughs or wood chips to mulch English holly bush.
  • Wear gloves when handling English holly, as the leaves are lined with sharp barbs that can cause minor puncture wounds.

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