Golden Helleri HollyIlex crenata 'Golden Helleri'
View more from Holly Trees
30 day - ARRIVE AND THRIVE™ guaranteeLearn more
Ilex crenata 'Golden Helleri'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Golden Helleri Holly is a compact bush with tiny leaves free of spines. The foliage is a beautiful golden yellow, holding its color all through the winter. It forms a low mound, between 1 and 2 feet tall and naturally somewhat wider. It is very neat, and doesn’t need trimming, but it can be trimmed into perfect tight balls, simple shapes and hedges as needed. Use it as an accent among your bushes, as an edging plant, as a hedge or in pots and planters for easy brightness.
Full sun will bring out the best color in the Golden Helleri Holly, although it will easily tolerate a little shade. It grows in most soils, as long as they are not constantly dry or wet, and is undemanding once it is established. It can be trimmed as needed from spring to early fall and it is normally free of pests or diseases. Much easier to grow than boxwoods.
Think ‘holly’ and most of us picture a large evergreen bush or tree with big, spiny, green leaves, and red berries. If that is your picture, then put it completely out of your mind when you look at the Golden Helleri Holly, because this is a completely different plant. A form of the Japanese holly, the most obvious thing you will think of is ‘boxwood’ because that is exactly what this evergreen bush looks like – a golden boxwood. And that’s what it is, for practical purposes in the garden. Not just any golden boxwood, but one that is free of all those nasty pests and diseases that are increasingly attacking our boxwood plants. As well as one that will grow better in warm zones. Forming a low, fat mound of branches and tiny golden leaves, it is perfect for an accent in a small bed, in a pot or planter box, or for low hedging. Everyone loves those cute little ‘pat on the head’ evergreen balls, and even though this is a holly, you won’t go ‘ouch!’ when you pat this one – the leaves are smooth and entirely free of thorns. So if ‘compact golden evergreen’ is on your wish-list, you have come to the right place. Your wishes are about to come true.
The Golden Helleri Holly is a small evergreen bush that grows 12 to 18 inches tall, spreading into a broad globe 2 or even 3 feet wide. Older, untrimmed plants could reach 2 feet tall and 4 feet wide. That broad, low spread makes it perfect where you want a splash of color, but not too much height. It is naturally compact and needs little or no clipping to stay neat, rounded, and bushy. The slender twigs are closely-packed with small oval leaves, no more than ½ inch long, and even smaller if you trim the bush regularly. There are a couple of soft points on the side of the leaves, but no spines or prickles at all.
The great attraction is the wonderful color of those leaves – a bright, clean yellow. The new leaves are brightest, and over the summer those first spring leaves gradually turn green, but by then new, younger leaves have formed and they will reliably stay golden throughout the winter months. In fact, the darker inner leaves enhance the brightness of the gold, so they are beneficial to the bright look of this plant. This is a female holly and older, untrimmed plants might produce some small black berries if there is a male Japanese holly in your garden. In any case, they are insignificant and unimportant.
Where you need a golden accent – perhaps as a pair on either side of some steps, or in planters by your front door – that is where the Golden Helleri Holly is perfect. Use it alone or in clusters of 3 or 5 – spaced 2 feet apart – for cheerful and easy brightness. You can trim it into perfect balls, or let it adapt its natural form – which almost looks trimmed anyway. You could make a bright golden edging hedge, in the style of boxwood, or use it with another small Japanese holly (perhaps ‘Convexa’, a great boxwood substitute) as accents at the corners of a green hedge. The possibilities for exciting effects in your garden are endless.
The Golden Helleri Holly is hardy from zone 6 all the way through zone 9, and into zone 9 in the northwest. In planters, it will survive outdoors all winter from zone 7. In zone 6, slide it out of the pot and place it in the garden temporarily, if possible, or wrap the pot in insulation, standing it directly on the ground.
Full sun will give the best golden coloring, and keep your Golden Helleri Holly gold for the longest time, but it will easily tolerate a few hours of shade each day without great impact. Although it prefers lighter, moist and well-drained soils, this is a very tough and tolerant plant, able to grow happily in most soils, including poor and drier soils, but not in wet ground. It is perfectly happy in just about all ordinary garden conditions, and once established it has moderate drought resistance. In the far south it may suffer a little in intense heat and humidity, but much less than classic English boxwood does.
Unlike boxwood the Golden Helleri Holly is usually free of pests or diseases or any significance. Some evergreen fertilizer in spring and early summer – use a liquid form for pot-grown plants – is beneficial in keeping it growing well, but not essential except for pot-grown bushes. It can be trimmed from spring to early fall, although this is hardly necessary for neatness.
The Japanese holly, Ilex crenata, has been grown in America since 1864, when it was first brought from Japan. It grows naturally there, as well as in China and Korea. The Japanese have priced it for a long, long time, but at first in America, there were no cultivated forms. One of the very first was discovered in 1925 by Joseph Helleri, of Newport, Rhode Island, but it was possibly not widely available until after 1936. It is called Helleri and it soon became the standard for a compact, rounded bush of this plant. It grows to about 4 feet tall and a little wider. In 1967 a form of this plant with golden leaves was found, but we don’t have much information on its origins. It became known as Golden Helleri.
Japanese holly bushes are great evergreens, in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The Golden Helleri Holly is perfect for small golden accents, and a big seller whenever it is available. Often hard to find, we tracked down some great bushes, grown from stem pieces and true to that original find. Order yours now because they will soon all be gone.