Emily Bruner Holly

Ilex cornuta x latifolia 'Emily Bruner'

Emily Bruner Holly

Ilex cornuta x latifolia 'Emily Bruner'

This product is currently out of stock and unavailable.


How are the heights measured?

All tree, and nothin' but the tree! We measure from the top of the soil to the top of the tree; the height of the container or the root system is never included in our measurements.

What is a gallon container?

Nursery containers come in a variety of different sizes, and old-school nursery slang has stuck. While the industry-standard terminology is to call the sizes "Gallon Containers", that doesn't exactly translate to the traditional liquid "gallon" size we think of. You'll find we carry young 1-gallons, up to more mature 7-gallons ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 6ft.

How does the delivery process work?

All of our orders ship via FedEx Ground! Once your order is placed online, our magic elves get right to work picking, staging, boxing and shipping your trees. Orders typically ship out within 2 business days. You will receive email notifications along the way on the progress of your order, as well as tracking information to track your plants all the way to their new home!

Why are some states excluded from shipping?

The short & sweet answer is: "United States Department of Agriculture Restrictions." Every state has their own unique USDA restrictions on which plants they allow to come into their state. While we wish we could serve everyone, it's for the safety of native species and helps prevent the spread of invasive disease & pests. We've gotta protect good ole' Mother Nature, after all.

About Me


The Emily Bruner Holly is a pyramidal evergreen bush of high quality, growing to about 20 feet tall and 8 feet wide. It has lustrous emerald-green leaves which are unusually large, with a margin of many spines. It forms a dense bush that is perfect for a lawn specimen, screening or at the back of shrub beds. In October it ripens a massive crop of burgundy-red berries that weigh down the branches with their abundance. A hybrid tree bred for hot and dry conditions.

  • Beautiful dense holly tree of high quality
  • Large emerald-green leaves with a high luster
  • Laden with a heavy berry crop from October on
  • Perfect as a specimen tree or for screening
  • Ideal for the heat and drought of the southeast

Emily Bruner Holly grows in zone 7, 8 and 9, in full sun, partial shade or the light shade of deciduous trees. It grows in almost any well-drained soil, and established trees tolerate drought very well. Fertilize each spring for good foliage color and trim as needed for the neatest shape. Pests, diseases and deer leave it alone, and this tough shrub needs very little attention to thrive in your garden.

Plant Hardiness Zones 7-9
Mature Width 5-8
Mature Height 15-20
Sun Needs Full Sun, Partial Sun
Zones 7-9

The world of holly bushes is a large one, with several important natural species, and a very large variety of selected and hybrid forms available. No matter where you live there is a holly ideal for your weather conditions, but for the southeast, with its long, hot and humid summers, two species stand out. One is the Chinese holly, and the other is the lusterleaf holly. Both are much more tolerant of drought and high temperatures than the sensitive European holly, which does best in moderate climates closer to those in its home. So, it makes sense to combine the best of the Japanese and lustereaf hollies – which is exactly what we have in the hybrid. This outstanding bush is something special, with large, decorative leaves and a massive crop of bright-red berries to brighten the winter days. Its slender pyramidal form and moderate size means it fits well into both small and large gardens, and this stand-out variety finds a welcome home in the hearts and gardens of everyone who grows it.

Growing Emily Bruner Holly

Size and Appearance

The Emily Bruner Holly is a neat pyramidal evergreen bush, growing steadily to a height of just 15 to 20 feet, and staying slender, spreading just 5 to 8 feet wide. Older trees may become taller and broader after many years, if untrimmed. It stays dense and bushy, and a little trimming from time to time will keep it as neat as anyone could want. It has outstandingly beautiful foliage, with long, oblong leaves that are leathery, glossy and rich dark-green. They are large, almost 5 inches long and 2 inches wide, with a row of 12 to 15 spines down each side, giving them a striking appearance.

In spring this tree blooms, and its blooms are more showy than we usually see in holly, where most have rather insignificant blooms. Dense clusters of yellow blooms open all along the stems, and these give out a gentle fragrance, attracting large numbers of pollinating bees and insects. Emily is not fussy about who she pairs-up with, and almost any other male holly will help her produce a big crop of berries. A male Chinese variety, or a male blue holly, like ‘Blue Prince’ would be ideal.

Most holly carry their berries in clusters coming out of the stems, but the Emily Bruner Holly looks a little different. The big, burgundy-red berries cluster tightly along the stems in a near-continuous row, weighing them down with their abundance, and that look wonderful cut and made into wreaths and holiday decorations. They ripen in late October or November, holding well through much of the winter, until they are eventually taken by hungry birds.

Using Emily Bruner Holly in Your Garden

This unique holly is a wonderful specimen on a lawn, and equally great grown against a blank wall or tall fence. Planted in a row it makes a solid screen and grow it near large deciduous trees for a great natural look. Avoid planting beneath power lines unless you plan to keep it trimmed and allow enough room for its relatively modest spread – 4 or 5 feet from a wall will be perfect.


Because it grows well in hot areas, this holly is not as cold resistant as many others, and we recommend it for sheltered spots in warmer parts of zone 6, and definitely throughout zones 7, 8 and 9. It thrives in heat and humidity, and once established this is one of the most drought resistant hollies available. .

Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions

Full sun or some afternoon shade is perfect for your Emily Bruner Holly bush. It will grow in dappled shade beneath deciduous trees too, but not so well in deep, year-round shade. Almost any soil, acid or alkaline, is suitable, as long as it is well-drained. Richer, moist soils will give the best growth, but once established this tree will survive drought conditions better than just about any other.

Maintenance and Pruning

Mulch young trees in spring, to conserve moisture, keeping it off the trunk and foliage. We recommend an annual spring feed with a high-nitrogen evergreen fertilizer, as this particular variety may show some yellowing of the leaves if it is not fed regularly. Feeding will give you super-bushy growth, big leaves and a rich emerald-green coloring. Pests, diseases and deer are not problems, and this tough tree needs almost no attention. Don’t over-trim, as this will remove the flowers and young berries, reducing the crop. Summer trimming, when you can see the developing fruit, allows you to keep as much as possible, or trim hard once every few years, leaving it untrimmed in other years for the biggest crops.

History and Origin of Emily Bruner Holly

Emily Bruner Holly was introduced by Don Shadow of Shadow Nursery, Winchester, Tennessee, at a time when he was with the University of Tennessee. He named it after his friend and fellow horticulturist, Emily Bruner, an important writer and figure in the Tennessee gardening world. It is a hybrid tree, produced by crossing the Burford holly, a form of Chinese holly, Ilex cornuta, with another Chinese holly, the lusterleaf holly, ilex latifolia. Combining the heat, drought and humidity resistance of the Chinese holly with the beautiful foliage and massive berry clusters of the lusterleaf created a winning combination – ‘Emily Bruner’ – a holly of real distinction.

Buying Emily Bruner Holly at The Tree Center

The Emily Bruner Holly has been a Tennessee staple evergreen for years, and it has earned its reputation as a backbone of Tennessee gardens. Now we are bringing this bush to a wider audience, and they love it – as you will too. Order now, while our stocks last.

Back to top

Emily Bruner Holly

Ilex cornuta x latifolia 'Emily Bruner'