The Dwarf Burford Holly is a top-selling holly bush, and no wonder. For reliability, resistance to both drought and wet soil, tolerance of even harsh alkaline soils, and all-round toughness, it can’t be beaten. When all that is combined with a compact, dense bush smothered in bright-red berries all winter, what is not to like?
In warmer zones holly is the backbone of the foundation planting around your home, and the backdrop for the main parts of your garden, bringing visual stability and contrasting beautifully with your flowering plants. Its rich green, glossy foliage is always beautiful, in every season, and the red berries are a winter bonus, perfect for the holiday season. Of all the many holly bushes available, the Dwarf Burford Holly ticks all the boxes.
It never becomes too large, so you won’t be battling it to get in the front door. Unlike almost all other hollies it doesn’t need a partner, and happily produces a rich crop of red berries all by itself. Plant it anywhere, because it doesn’t have those sharp holly spines that makes other bushes a hazard. You can trim it into tight, formal hedges or specimens, or leave it to grow freely into its attractive natural self, with a semi-open, layered look that fits perfectly into a woodland garden, or a more relaxed cottage garden. However you use it in your garden, the Dwarf Burford Holly is a winner.
Growing Dwarf Burford Holly Bushes
The Dwarf Burford Holly is an evergreen shrub, hardy in zones 7, 8 and 9, which grows at a moderate pace into a rounded bush no more than 8 feet tall, and typically smaller. It is about the same width across as its height, making a neat, rounded plant. The leaves are a rich deep-green, with a smooth edge and just one small spine on the tip – unlike many other holly bushes that have many spines and can be difficult to handle. Also, unlike most other holly bushes, the Dwarf Burford Holly is a female plant that does not require a male holly nearby to pollinate it. Every fall and into winter your bush will be decorated with attractive red holly berries – perfect for the holiday season.
The Dwarf Burford Holly grows in either full sun or partial shade, although berry production will be greatest in full sun. This shrub thrives in well-drained, moist soil, but once established it is quite drought resistant, so it will grow with the minimum of attention. It grows in both acidic and alkaline soils, and it also does well in wet locations. This is an excellent all-round shrub that will grow in just about any location you plant it in.
If you want to trim it regularly, the best time is in late winter, just before new growth begins. Summer trimming will often reduce the berry crop, but once the berries are visible – they begin green, and turn red later – you can trim a little, while leaving the berries untouched.
Uses in Your Garden
The Dwarf Burford Holly can be used in three main ways around the garden. Begin by using it in the foundation planting around your home. Because it stays small it can be grown beneath windows, and it is easily trimmed once or twice a year to keep it pretty much as low as you want. Let it grow taller between the windows, or on either side of a door, and you have the perfect all-year evergreen to bring that mature look to your home. Rich green shrubs are an excellent way to link your house to the larger garden, and this shrub does that perfectly.
As well, the Dwarf Burford Holly is an excellent plant to use out in the garden, among other shrubs and in wooded areas. Since it is shade tolerant it will grow beneath larger deciduous trees, and it brings winter interest to these areas. You can trim it if you want to create a more formal look in your garden, but it also looks lovely left to grow naturally, where it will form a dense plant with branches in layers, looking very different from the way it does when clipped.
Finally, the Dwarf Burford Holly is an ideal hedge plant for any evergreen hedge between 3 and 6 feet tall, in sun or shade. Shorter hedges are great ways to divide up the garden into areas, or to make a friendly hedge along your property lines.
History and Origins of the Dwarf Burford Holly
The Dwarf Burford Holly is a selected form of the Chinese Holly (Ilex cornuta) also called Horned Holly. This tree comes from China and Korea, and it probably first came to America during the great opening of China to trade in the middle of the 19th century. In the wild it can be a large shrub or even a tree up to 60 feet tall. Around 1939 J.R Howell, from Knoxville, Tennessee, found an unusual plant of this holly growing in the Westview Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia. It was different from the original wild plant because the leaf was rounded, with just one or two thorns on the tip, while the leaf of the wild plant was rectangular, with large thorns on each corner. This new form was softer, easier to handle, and more attractive. Mr. Howell called it ‘Burfordii’.
Later a dwarf form of his plant was discovered, which proved more useful for most gardens, and this is the plant we know as ‘Dwarf Burford’. Our plants are produced from stem pieces, not from seed, so they have all the desirable qualities of this plant. Its popularity and its many uses in the garden, mean that our stock is constantly being bought by our customers, so order now while we still have plants available.