Properties of Holly (ilex aquifolium).
Holly is quickly becoming a stable plant for improving and encouraging wildlife habitats, ecosystems and improving the biodiversity of an area. It is rapidly becoming an incredibly popular choice for those planting a mixed native hedge. A mixed native hedge usually comprises of a large portion of Whitethorn Hedging, mixed in with Guelder Rose, Spindle, and Hazel plants
Description & Features
Holly plants are a dense, tough, robust, evergreen, sturdy, slow growing hedging plant. The Leaves are dark green spiny in structure and pointed at the tip. The leaves of the plant turns darker in colour as the plant matures. It is native to Ireland and will do well in all areas including along the coast. It is commonly found in forests and woodlands where it thrives protected by other larger tree species. The spiny dense nature of the Holly plant makes it the ideal deterrent against unwanted visitors. It is a slow growing plant, usually only growing about 4-6inches in any given year. Once established, plants take a trimming well.
An attractive attribute of the Holly plant is it’s flowering and fruiting properties. Both male and female plants are required for cross pollination. There is no major distinguishing feature to differentiate between male and female holly plants until the berries appear on the female plants. It is best to plant a few plants together to ensure cross pollination. The berries are a dark red colour and are a very important food source for birds, insects mammals during the long Winter months.
A variety of Holly, called the JC Van Tol Holly is actually a self fertilising Holly, ensuring berries every year without the need for cross pollination from other plants.
Benefits of hedging to Biodiverstiy & Ecosystems.
Planting a hedge of any type, especially holly hedges in the garden is a great way to encourage biodiversity and preserve ecosystems. A hedge in the garden provides shelter and security for nesting birds, caterpillars, aphids and other insects. These hedges also act as a network for small animals to move around the garden and populate. They are a wonderful food source for birds, insects and small mammals in the Winter months. They are becoming a very popular choice in Mixed native hedging due to their dense spiny structure which offer protection for smaller more vulnerable animals and birds and also their value as a food source in Winter months.
How & When to Plant your Holly Plants.
Most plants are sold in small P9 pots. Plants of 1-2 ft are the most popular size for planting as the root systems are well developed and the plants are an ideal size for planting.
It is slowing growing and it is important to keep the area clean and free from weeds. Annual maintenance including pruning and trimming of a holly hedge can be done once the plant has established. Pruning and trimming is usually done in the Spring, before birds begin to build their nests again for the Summer months.
Here in Cullen Nurseries we grow Holly plants as 4ft Root Balled plants, that are lifted from the ground in Winter months, wrapped in biodegradable Hessian nets, delivered to the end user and transplanted into the ground.
- Holly plants are usually planted as smaller potted plants, at a frequency of 4 plants per metre in a single row.
- Keep the new hedge clear of long grass and weeds in the first few moths to promote growth and remove competition from weeds.
- The plants should be watered if planted in late Spring and there is a period of drought in the proceeding months.
- When planting It is best to dig a trench 8-9 inches deep, breaking up and aerating the soil.
- Place the plants in the trench, covering the root system up to the collar of the plant. Shovel back in the soil and walk the plant in to anchor it in the ground.
- For Root Ball plants, it is advisable to dig a trench about 18 inches wide and 12 inches deep to place the large root ball plant in. Back fill the soil and walk in the plant well to secure it from blowing around in the wind.
Type: Slow Growing
Soil: Well drained, will do well in any soil
Status: Hardy in cold weather,
Position: Sun or light shade
Flowering: Flowers in Summer and berries in Winter
You can view Drone Footage of where we grow our Holly in our Native Nursery here.