For that classic holly look, nothing beats the Greenleaf Holly. It has all the elements – the rich, glossy leaves with spiny edges, the sprays of deep red berries – and its dense garden growth makes it a real asset in any space. Plus, this is the American Holly, not its European counterpart, so you are growing a native tree too – what could be better?
Holly bushes are garden standards, and no garden should be without them. As noble specimen trees in a lawn or as background for your shrubs they simply cannot be beaten. They also form a wonderful screen when planted in a row, or they can be clipped into solid hedges with just one or two trims a year.
Growing Greenleaf Holly Shrubs
The Greenleaf Holly is certainly one of the best varieties of American Holly available. It has a slightly smaller and more compact form than the native tree, and develops into a perfect pyramid of green, reaching 20 to 25 feet tall in time, with an impressive spread of between 10 and 15 feet. When planting larger shrubs like this, always remember to allow enough room for their mature size. Plant at least 6 feet away from walls, fences and property boundaries, and leave plenty of room for surrounding plants to develop as well. Even if you plan to trim regularly, that may not in fact happen, so leave enough room.
Uses on Your Property
The Greenleaf Holly makes a wonderful specimen on a lawn, and it fills a corner in your garden perfectly, enclosing the area and defining boundaries. Use a pair to flank the entrance to your property, or on a longer driveway create an impressive avenue. If you need to define your property line, or screen an unattractive view, plant a row, spacing the trees 6 to 10 feet apart, and you will soon have the perfect screening 365 days of the year. Plant at the corners of your home to frame it beautifully, and you can also use it as an attractive alternative to a fir tree to decorate with lights for Christmas.
The Greenleaf Holly has classic spiny holly leaves, colored a deep, rich, glossy-green. The leaves are 2 to 4 inches long, with a leathery texture, making a plant with real substance. Clusters of inconspicuous greenish-white flowers will be seen on the stems in May and June, and by fall these will have become clusters of rich red berries, up to half-an-inch across, turning your tree into a pyramid of red and green. This variety is known for the size and abundance of its berry crop, and these berries persist throughout fall and most of the winter too.
The berry crop on this tree is at its best in the holiday season, when branches can be cut and brought inside, or woven into wreathes for the door. No more plastic wreathes or scrawny bunches from the store – now you can decorate profusely with the abundant crop of the real thing from your own garden. For a full berry crop this holly needs a suitable male tree growing within 200 feet. Holly has separate male and female trees, and while some female trees produce berries on their own, the American holly does best with a male tree nearby. A suitable variety is ‘Jersey Knight’, which will pollinate any female of this species.
Planting and Initial Care
Plant the Greenleaf Holly in full sun or partial shade. Full sun will give the best berry crop, and the densest growth, but in warmer zones some afternoon shade is best. In colder zones plant in a location protected from cold winter winds. This tree will grow in most average garden soils, but do not plant in soils that are poorly drained and regularly wet. It grows best and largest in deep, rich, acidic soils that are moist but well-drained, but this vigorous tree grows well under almost all ordinary garden situations.
It is normally never bothered by pests or diseases, and deer usually ignore it. It will also grow well in coastal locations, where the leathery leaves resist injury from salt. If you want to trim your tree, for a hedge, to control its size, or to create a more formal pyramidal look, do this in late winter or early spring, to avoid trimming off the developing berries.
History and Origins of the Greenleaf Holly
The Greenleaf Holly is a selected form of the American holly (Ilex opaca). This native tree is more resistant to cold than the European Holly, making it very suitable for colder parts of the country. It grows naturally throughout the east and central parts of the country, from Massachusetts south to Texas and Florida. It grows westward to Ohio and into southeastern Missouri. Natural trees are variable in size, with some over 30 feet tall, and they also vary in the density of their growth and the quantity of berries produced. This means that seedling trees are not a good buy, as you don’t really know what the outcome will be with any one particular tree. For this reason, most of the trees grown in gardens are selected forms, chosen for their specific characteristics.
The Greenleaf Holly is such a selected tree. It was chosen from among many growing at Monrovia Nurseries for its dense growth, attractive foliage and profuse berry production. Released in 1969 it rapidly became one of the most popular varieties available. Our trees are grown from stem pieces, not seed, to precisely reproduce the desirable features of this tree, which is far superior to wild trees grown from seed. Always popular, our stock will not last long, so order now while we can still send you this excellent holly tree for your garden.