Fine Line Holly

Ilex cornuta ‘Fine Line’

Fine Line Holly

Ilex cornuta ‘Fine Line’


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 Fine Line Holly is a beautiful upright column of rich, evergreen foliage, that makes the perfect accent in a bed, or a specimen in a lawn. It has a fine gold line around the edge of the almost-spineless leaves, and it produces a rich crop of deep-red berries in fall, that last well into the winter. You will be cutting branches and wreathes to decorate your home for the holiday season, while enjoying the beauty of this tree in every month of the year. A selected form of the Chinese holly, this is the number-one pick for hotter states and drier conditions, and it grows in the South so much better than more common types do. With its bold upright form, this tree is the best way to get those important accent points into your garden, with almost no maintenance necessary.

  • The best holly for hot and dry areas
  • Excellent narrow upright shape without trimming
  • Good berry crop in fall and most of winter too
  • For full sun or shade
  • Grows in most soils, including clays and poor soil

Plant your Fine Line Holly bushes in full sun or partial shade. The growth will be a little more open in shade, but that is easily regulated by trimming. It will grow in almost any kind of soil, including poor urban soils, clays, and other low-grade soil conditions. It should not be planted in poorly-drained locations that are constantly wet. Once established this is one of the most drought-tolerant and heat-tolerant hollies available, and it is rarely bothered by pests or diseases. Deer usually leave it alone, and it resists salt-spray too.

Plant Hardiness Zones 7-9
Mature Width 5-10
Mature Height 10-15
Sun Needs Full Sun, Partial Sun
Zones 7-9

Upright evergreens are perfect plants for adding contrast and emphasis to your garden planting. Planted in a row they are the ideal way to create a narrow screen along a boundary, or separate one part of your garden from another. When looking for such an upright evergreen, the Fine Line Holly is always a top choice. This attractive shrub or small tree grows into a green column, reaching 10 or even 15 feet in height and remaining just 5 feet tall, spreading wider with age unless trimmed – an easy job.

It can be kept with branches almost to the ground, but by trimming it up you reveal the handsome, smooth light-gray trunk, creating an attractive small tree for a smaller space. When you add the fall and winter crop of deep-red berries, you have a plant that will embellish your garden, and demand almost nothing of you, making it an excellent choice for a low-maintenance garden.

Growing Fine Line Holly Bushes

Holly bushes are popular evergreens everywhere, but some are more suited to moist, cooler climates, and in the heat and dryness of the South they can suffer. Not the Fine Line Holly. This is one holly that really enjoys the heat, thriving in warmer zones, with high temperatures and periods of summer drought. It will grow in almost any kind of soil, including poor, urban soils, just so long as they are well-drained, and don’t hold water for long periods of time. It is therefore a top choice for all the warmer zones, from zone 7 to zone 9, and it will also grow in a sheltered location in zone 6.

Unlike many other hollies, this one does not need a pollinator to produce a full crop of berries. The berries turn red by fall, and they persist through fall and into winter. they can be cut to decorate your home for the Christmas season, and who can resist the iconic look of those glossy leaves and red berries at that festive time?


The Fine Line Holly has glossy, deep-green leaves that are around 2 inches long and an inch wide, rectangular in shape, with three tiny spines at the end – one in the center and one on each side, making an almost square end to the leaf. Many other hollies have fierce spines, that can scratch, but these are tiny, and with just three on the leaf this plant is virtually spineless. The leaves are always glossy and attractive at all seasons, bringing a calm stability to your garden layout. The edge of each leaf has a very fine line of gold along it, giving a subtle definition to it, and enhancing the overall look of this attractive plant.

Holly bushes are not noted for their flowers, but the Fine Line Holly is different. Each spring, around March, a heavy crop of whitish flowers appears at the point where the leaves meet the stems. These may be small, but they are profuse, and they release a delicious fragrance into the air. Bees love them, and this tree is known for helping bees produce heavy crops of delicious honey. Over summer the flowers turn into a crop of first green and then bright red berries, each about one-third of an inch long, in clusters along the branches.

Planting and Initial Care

Choose a sunny or partially shaded spot to plant the Fine Line Holly. It will grow in any well-drained soil and adding rich organic material to the soil will produce the best and sturdiest growth. Water regularly during the first season or two, but after that your tree will be resistant to drought. It has no significant pests or diseases, and deer usually leave holly trees alone. With its natural upright form you do not need to trim, but if you do want a very neat form, trim in late winter, before the new growth begins. For a hedge or screen, space the plants 3 or 4 feet apart in a row, and clip regularly to encourage them to grow together and to build a strong structure for your hedge.

History and Origins of the Fine Line Holly

The Horned Holly (Ilex cornuta) is a large shrub or small tree that grows wild in China and Korea. It was first brought to Europe in 1846, and with the extensive US trade with China at that time, it probably arrived in America a little later, or perhaps even earlier. Plants of the Horned Holly growing wild are variable, and some can be 60-foot trees, while others are smaller shrubs. Numerous different forms of this plant have been selected over the years by growers and gardeners, and the Fine Line Holly is considered to be one of the very best.

Sadly the origin of the Fine Line Holly has been lost, but it was probably found in an American garden or a commercial nursery in the second half of the 20th century. Whatever its origins, our plants are of the correct type, with that characteristic finely-etched gold line around the margin of the leaf, the dense, upright growth, and the abundant berry crop. Our plants are grown from stem pieces of the correct plant, not from seed, which would produce very variable and inevitably inferior plants. The demand for holly bushes of all kinds is always high, and this one is a strong favorite of many knowledgeable gardeners. Order now, because our limited stock will not be available for very long.

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Fine Line Holly

Ilex cornuta ‘Fine Line’