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Plant A Patch: American holly (Ilex opaca)

By: Sandra Nelson; Images Sandy DeFoe



The perfect plant for adding dramatic color to the winter landscape, American holly is a classic choice! This slow growing, broadleaf evergreen with glossy green leaves and clusters of bright red berries throughout the winter is the epitome of the traditional Christmas decoration. More than just a decoration, American Holly can serve as a specimen tree, in mass plantings or as a foundation planting. It prefers well-drained soil in a sunny but protected location, but can tolerate partial shade. It withstands air pollution well, which makes it a good choice for city planting. American holly is dioecious, which means that both a male and female plant must be present to produce berrries. In the past, native American holly has been difficult to find in nurseries but with its recent resurgence in popularity, it is becoming somewhat more available. This native is definitely a plant worth searching for.