Dwarf holly trees work well in gardens where their spiny, glossy leaves add year-round interest and texture to the landscape. The most common varieties of dwarf hollies come from the Vaupon, Japanese or Chinese types. While most dwarf holly trees do not produce berries, the plants still attract birds who rely on the bushes for protection from predators. Dwarf hollies work well as hedges, in rock gardens or in containers used on a deck or patio.
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Gardens along the coast can grow Yaupon dwarf holly plants, a small-leafed, hardy evergreen. Yaupon holly also grows in the southern United States as a native species. In Florida, wild yaupons are protected by law. The plant offers high tolerance of drought and sea salt while also growing in soil with a pH of 7.0. One dwarf cultivar, Nana, grows as a compact shrub. An even more compact, low-shrub variety growing to just 3 feet in height includes Schelling's Dwarf, also known as Stroke's Dwarf or Stokes.
Chinese dwarf holly cultivars include Dwarf Burfordii, a plant that reaches from 5 to 6 feet in height when mature. Another cultivar includes Carissa, a dense holly tree that grows from 4 to 5 feet in height. Botunda consists of a compact, dense bush with spiny leaves that grows up to 5 feet in height if not pruned. Another variety includes the needlepoint holly.
Japanese dwarf hollies include Helleri, Red Lion and Tiny Tim. Japanese varieties feature more drainage problems, so they must get planted in well-drained soil. The plants also remain more susceptible to pests and disease than other types of holly. A new variety of Japanese dwarf holly, Sky Pencil, features a straight, narrow plant that grows no more than a few feet in height.
Most dwarf hollies thrive in full sun. The plants require well-drained soil that falls between 5.0 and 6.0 in pH. For wetter areas of the garden, Chinese and yaupon holly tolerate wet soil much better than the other varieties. The plants thrive when organic soil gets added to the planting hole.
Adding mulch around your dwarf holly plants helps retain moisture. The plants benefit from a complete fertiliser applied annually. Pruning may become necessary in late winter or early spring to keep some varieties, such as Botunda, as a dwarf plant. The plants also require careful observation to make sure pests such as leaf miner, scales and red mites do not hurt the plant.
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