How to Trim a Yaupon Holly Tree

Written by desirae roy
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How to Trim a Yaupon Holly Tree
Yaupon holly trees can be trimmed into many pleasing shapes. (Christmas holly image by mefanti from

Ilex vomitoria, a versatile holly known as the yaupon, can be trained into many interesting shapes. Grown as an espalier, topiary, hedge or ornamental tree, the female yaupon creates pretty red berries that will encourage late season critters to visit your garden for a snack. Keeping the yaupon holly well trimmed will encourage a pleasing shape and can be a fun process with practice.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pruning shears

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  1. 1

    Prune yaupon holly trees in winter when male tree branches are bare and female trees are covered in berries. Pruning during times of growth and flowering may reduce or eliminate berry production for that season.

  2. 2

    Cut back the longest headers to a node, varying the cuts to different lengths to maintain the overall shape of the canopy and for a fuller look. Make cuts at a 45-degree angle rather than straight across to promote branching.

  3. 3

    Prune all branches back heavily each year during the fall (if you don't mind sacrificing berries) or the late winter well prior to spring growth (to avoid cold damage) to maintain a hedgelike form. Prune to within 6 inches of the ground to promote new growth and control the hedge height.

  4. 4

    Remove all suckers and branches growing under the crown to create a tree appearance. This will expose the twisted and textured trunks of the holly.

  5. 5

    Dip the shears in a solution of equal parts bleach and water between cuts to keep them clean from contact with infected foliage.

  6. 6

    Dispose of branches and foliage with confirmed or suspected infection away from your compost pile. These materials can harbour disease over winter and pass it to healthy trees or tree parts elsewhere in your garden.

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