There are many, many different holly bushes, so choosing one can be difficult. In a situation like that, there is a simple principle – choose the best. If you live in a warmer part of the country, and you want a vigorous, beautiful and distinctive holly bush, with a heavy crop of berries, then the choice is simple – the Acadiana™ Holly. This relatively new variety is hardy in zone 6, grows in most soils, both moist and dry, and it tolerates heat and drought well. The dense, lush foliage features striking leaves with a distinctive spine pattern, and the crop of orange-red berries is a vibrant feature in both winter and fall.
Growing Acadiana™ Red Holly Bushes
The Acadiana™ Holly grows rapidly into a bush 15 to 20 feet tall and over 12 feet wide, although of course it can be trimmed to keep it smaller, or to create a hedge. By removing the lower branches over a few years as it grows, it can also easily be turned into an attractive tree-form, with a handsome trunk of gray-brown bark. It naturally, without trimming, develops into a dense and upright pyramid of rich green, and the leaves are a striking variation on the classic spiny holly leaf. They are around 2 inches long, and about 1½ inches wide, with 12 to 18 spines growing along the sides. The spines alternate, with a long spine followed by a shorter one, giving a very attractive and unique look to this plant.
For the best growth, some moisture and a rich mulch over the roots is always beneficial, but this tough plant will thrive almost anywhere. It grows densest in full sun, but it also grows well in those shady spots, so this versatile tree can be used almost anywhere in your garden. This tree will produce berries when grown alone but having a male tree of any other holly within 200 feet, flowering at the same time, may improve the quantity of fruit that develops.
When cut for wreaths and vases in winter, these leaves create a very interesting and striking effect. The leaves are glossy and smooth, bright green in spring when new, and turning a rich, deep green for summer. This color remains strong and clean throughout the winter. In sun or light shade the growth is dense, and no trimming is needed for your tree to become a solid, symmetrical pyramid. In deeper shade the growth will be more open, and some limited trimming may be needed to develop a good dense structure to the bush.
In spring you may see small creamy-yellow flowers in clusters, with a green center. These soon develop into bunches of 2 to 5 berries, each more than ¼ of an inch in diameter. Over summer they are green, but by fall they have turned a striking orange-red, making a lovely show in the garden, and persisting well into winter. In late winter these berries will attract interesting birds into your garden, looking for a cold-weather treat. You can cut branches smothered in berries for the holiday season, to decorate outside or inside your home, and the classic combination of green leaves and red berries is a necessity to fully enjoy the season. Having a male tree of any other holly, flowering at the same time, will pollinate your tree, and may improve the fruit set.
The Acadiana™ Holly is a hybrid holly with a complex parentage that gives it lots of vigor and pest resistance. It is fast-growing, adding as much as two feet of new growth each year, slowing down only when it reaches its mature size, which it can do within 10 years. It will grow in almost all soil conditions, so if you have a sandy soil, ordinary garden soil, or heavy clay soil, it doesn’t matter to this easily-grown bush. It grows well in moist soil, and once established it is also perfectly happy in drier conditions.
History and Origins of the Acadiana™ Holly
The Acadiana™ Holly was discovered as a seedling in 1989 by Jack Mitchell Magee, at the Evergreen Nursery, Poplarville, Mississippi. It was one of a batch of seedlings he had produced by crossing the hybrid holly ‘Mary Nell’ with seed from a male plant of the Tarajo Holly (Ilex latifolia) an ornamental holly native to southern Japan and China. The Mary Nell Holly is itself a hybrid between the widely-grown Chinese Holly (Ilex cornuta) and another rarer Chinese holly, Ilex pernyi. Together these plants create a very vigorous hybrid, combining the best features of each species. After extensive testing to assess its value, Mr. Magee was granted a Plant Patent in 2003 on his new holly and trademarked the name “Acadiana”.
The Acadiana™ Holly has proved itself to be a fantastic addition to our range of holly bushes, and it is highly recommended for rapid growth, hardiness and adaptability, and for its very attractive shape, leaves and berries. We have obtained some top-quality plants grown under license, but they will not be with us long, as the demand for this plant is very high. Order now, or our stock will be gone.