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Holly - Ilex aquifolium

Holly - Ilex aquifolium

From £5.00£6.00 Inc VAT
Despatching cell grown plants now.
 Acidic, Sandy, Peaty Acidic, Sandy, Peaty
 Alkaline, Chalky, Calcareous Alkaline, Chalky, Calcareous
 Light Sand Light Sand
 Neutral Neutral
Evergreen Evergreen
Fruits & Berries (Wildlife) Fruits & Berries (Wildlife)
Growth Rate: Slow Growth Rate: Slow
Height: Medium Height: Medium
Low Maintenance Low Maintenance
Native Native
RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM) RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM)
Use: Evergreen Hedging Use: Evergreen Hedging
Use: Farm Woodland Use: Farm Woodland
Use: Field and Farm Hedging Use: Field and Farm Hedging
Use: Formal Use: Formal
Use: Small Garden Use: Small Garden
Wildlife Interest Wildlife Interest

Characteristics
Plant Protection
Planting & Care
Long Description 5
Images (3)
Questions (2)
Reviews
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RHS Award of Garden Merit

Holly is perhaps our most beautiful native broadleaved evergreen tree. A mature tree in woodland is a fine sight, particularly in winter, when its stately smooth grey trunk and gleaming leaves stand out well against the leafless branches of other trees. It is equally good as a garden ornamental or an evergreen hedge. It has good conservation value, and both the leaves and the scarlet berries are a potent symbol of Christmas.

Site and soil

Holly will do well in any well-drained soil. It copes well with both shade, exposed sites and pollution.

Height and spread

Below are the approximate stages of growth, assuming sited in suitable conditions for this species;

After 10 years: 4m x 2m
After 20 years: 6m x 3m

Leaf and bark

The leaves are elliptic, glossy, leathery dark green, and with wavy, spiny margins. Older leaves at the top of the tree sometimes become smoother and without spines. They are evergreen, although a proportion of leaves are shed in summer. The bark is very smooth and grey.

Flower, seed and fruit

The small white cup-shaped flowers are borne in clusters in the leaf axils in May. The flowers are dioecious, that is male and female flowers are found on separate plants. Only female hollies bear berries, and then only if there is a male holly nearby to pollinate it. The flowers are followed by the berries, which ripen to red by November. When bought in quantity there is a good chance both sexes will be represented.

Uses

Holly makes a good specimen tree in woodlands and gardens. It is also an excellent formal evergreen hedge, which because it is very dense and spiny, is both intruder and stock-proof.

Its tough leaves are wind-proof, and it can also be left unclipped to form an informal wind-break. It makes very good topiary shapes of all kinds.

The wood is very hard and dense and is used for making mathematical instruments, printing blocks, walking sticks and inlays on furniture. It is much prized by wood-turners, and in the past was used to make Tunbridge Ware. Birdlime was once made from the fermented bark and spread on branches to catch birds as they came into roost.

The berries are strongly purgative, and it was once used medicinally. It resists Honey Fungus well, and is often recommended as a replacement for plants which have been killed by the disease.

Rabbits love the young wood and bark, so plants must be protected from them for the first few years after planting. Holly is said to protect against both witchcraft and lightning, and was traditionally planted near houses for this reason.

Wildlife

Insects pollinate the flowers, and a number of butterflies, including the Holly Blue lay their eggs on the leaves. Because it is dense and evergreen, holly provides good shelter and nesting sites for birds. Many species of birds eat the berries. The wood is very strong, and the tree is seldom damaged by heavy snowfall in severe winters.

The main reasons for buying protection is to protect the plants against:

  • Pests
  • Spraying
  • Strimming

Pests

When it comes to deciding what protection to choose the golen rule of thumb is to choose the product dependent on which pest you are protecting against. The below will help you in deciding what height of protection you will need.

Vole Rabbit Hare Roe Deer/Muntjac Fallow Deer
Vole, Mice
20cm
Rabbit
60cm
Hare
75cm
Roe Deer/Muntjac
1.20m
Fallow Deer
1.50m

 Download our full protection range as a printable PDF document.

Protection Options

Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Vole
Vole, Mice
20cm
Vole Guard*
20cm
*Not recommended for this species
None required
Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Sorted by price; lowest to highest
Rabbit
Rabbit
60cm
Spiral Guard*
60cm x 38mm, 60cm x 50mm
*Not recommended for this species
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs or 14-16lbs
Tubex Easywrap*
60cm x 50-65mm
*Not recommended for this species
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs or 14-16lbs
Mesh Guard with Spray Shield
60cm x 130mm
2 x Bamboo Canes
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs or 14-16lbs
Tubex Fruitwrap*
60cm x 65-80mm
*Not recommended for this species
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs or 14-16lbs
Tubex Ecostart*
60cm x 57-73cm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Tree Shelter
60cm x 73-105mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Shelterguard Mesh Tube
60cm x 80-110mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube
60cm x 80-110mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Shrub Shelter
60cm x 130-160mm, 60cm x 144-200mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Shrub Shelterguard Mesh Tube
60cm x 130-160mm, 60cm x 170-200mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube for Shrubs
60cm x 130-160mm, 60cm x 170-200mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Sorted by price; lowest to highest
Hare
Hare
75cm
Tubex Easywrap*
75cm x 50-65mm
*Not recommended for this species
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs, 14-16lbs or 1.20m x 20-22lbs
Spiral Guard*
75cm x 50mm
*Not recommended for this species
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs, 14-16lbs or 1.20m x 20-22lbs
Tubex Fruitwrap*
75cm x 65-80mm
*Not recommended for this species
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs, 14-16lbs or 1.20m x 20-22lbs
Tubex Ecostart*
75cm x 57-73mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm

Tubex Tree Shelter

75cm x 73-105mm

Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Combitube
75cm x 73-105mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Shelterguard Mesh Tube
90cm x 80-110mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube
75cm x 80-110mm, 90cm x 80-110mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Shrub Shelter
75cm x 130-160mm, 75cm x 144-200mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Sorted by price; lowest to highest
Roe Deer/Muntjac
Roe Deer/Muntjac
1.20m
Tubex Tree Shelter*
1.20m x 73-105mm, 1.20m x 80-120mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.20m x 32mm, 1.35m x 32mm
Tubex Combitube*
1.20m x 73-105mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.20m x 32mm, 1.35m x 32mm
Tubex Shelterguard Mesh Tube*
1.20m x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.20m x 32mm, 1.35m x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube*
1.20m x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.20m x 32mm, 1.35m x 32mm
Galvanised Mesh Tree Guard*
1.20m x 300mm
*Not recommended for this species
Machine Rounded Tree Stake
1.20m x 50mm, 1.50m x 50mm
Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Sorted by price; lowest to highest
Fallow DeerFallow Deer
1.50m
Tubex Tree Shelter*
1.50m x 80-120mm, 1.80m x 80-120mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.50m x 32mm, 1.80m x 32mm
Tubex Combitube*
1.50m x 80-120mm, 1.80m x 80-120mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.50m x 32mm, 1.80m x 32mm
Tubex Shelterguard Mesh Tube*
1.50m x 80-110mm, 1.80m x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.50m x 32mm, 1.80m x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube*
1.50m x 80-110mm, 1.80m x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.50m x 32mm, 1.80m x 32mm
Galvanised Mesh Tree Guard*
1.80m x 300mm, 1.80m x 600mm
*Not recommended for this species
Machine Rounded Tree Stake
1.80m x 60mm

Spraying

Tubex tree shelters offer the benefit of not only protecting against animal damage, they also ensure that herbicides do not come into contact with the plants during spraying.

The main reason for spraying is weed control, however, there are other options available to suppress weeds. Our accessories section includes weed control matting, fertilisers & wildflower seed.

Strimming

Young plants should be protected from damage caused when strimming. To protect plants solely for strimming, our strimmer guards are the ideal product.

Planting

For a formal hedge we recommend planting in a straight line, 5 per metre.

Follow this link to our 'Planting Advice' page for more detailed information on how to plant your plants.

Rootgrow

We would often advise that you consider using 'Rootgrow' for your bare root plants. Rootgrow simply speeds up an existing natural process. The fungi contained in Rootgrow will begin to colonise the plant or tree roots, extending the root system into the surrounding soil via an extensive network of fungal filaments. 

The benefit of Rootgrowis that it enhances a plants root system so a newly planted plant:

  • Finds more food, finds more water.

  • Needs less fertiliser.

  • Establishes quicker and reduces failure rates (which can be improved even further when used in conjunction with Broadleaf P4)

  • Has increased tolerance to drought and difficult soil conditions

We also have a handy Welfare Guide that includes information on how to check your plants on arrival, how to plant them and also how to look after them. This is sent out with each delivery of bare root plants, but it can be downloaded from our advice pages.

Aftercare

Holly hedges and topiary should be trimmed in spring.

Readily available advice

For additional information on planting and maintaining your plants, please see our advice pages.

We provide extensive articles, tips, and even tutorial videos, ideal for beginners and those with previous planting experience.

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The Holly (Ilex aquifolium) that you supply - Are they female plants, if so do you have any male plants, as I would like at least one male.

Thank you for your question.

These plants are too young for us to be able to identify their gender at this age, however, whilst we are unable to guarantee male and female plants, we are confident that both will be represented when purchased in quantity.

Hope that helps

Is this a safe plant for my dog to be around

Thank you for your question

The ingestion of the berry of the Holly can be slightly toxic to humans, but are important to wildlife; birds tend to eat them after frosts have reduced their toxicity. However, if household pets ingest Holly, they are very liable to be poisoned, and it is a very good idea to keep Holly decorations out of reach of pets and/or children.

That said we have Holly trees in our garden with dogs (labradors) and they pay no attention to them. If you have a dog that you think maybe more likely to want to eat the young tree or its berries it is probably best that you do not plant Holly

Hope this helps

Regards The Trees and Hedging Team

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