Variegated English HollyIlex aquifolium 'Argentea Marginata'
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Ilex aquifolium 'Argentea Marginata'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun, Shade
The Variegated English Holly is an upright evergreen bush that grows quickly to be 15 feet tall, maturing to a tree as much as 40 feet tall. It is also excellent for growing in planters and pots, where it will be much smaller, to decorate the entrance of your home for the holidays. Branches can be cut to make wreaths, and the classic look of this great plant wins everyone’s heart. In fall and winter large crops of bright red berries form, adding to its beauty and later providing winter food for local birds. Grow it in pots, on a lawn, in garden beds, under trees or as a hedge – everywhere it is beautiful.
The Variegated English Holly is very shade tolerant, and it will grow anywhere from full sun to full shade beneath trees. It grows well and quickly in any ordinary well-drained soil. Avoid very dry or very wet soils. It is hardy from zone 6, growing best in moderate climates, including coastal areas, where it is very tolerant of salt-spray. It normally has no pests or diseases, and deer leave it alone. Feed potted trees regularly in spring and summer. Trim in summer when you can see the berries developing, to avoid cutting them off.
Poinsettia is yesterday’s holiday plant, and you sure can’t greet your family and visitors with one outside the door or cut branches to weave beautiful holiday wreaths from it. Wise holiday makers have turned instead to that great Christmas favorite, the holly tree. Nothing says, ‘holidays’, like holly, and this reliable plant will stand outside your door, or in your garden, looking shiny and bright, offering a warm welcome on cold days. Take things up a notch and use the beautiful Variegated English Holly for dynamic impact. The glossy leaves are enhanced with a bold white margin that sparkles and lights up the gloomy days. Add an abundance of bright red berries and you have a classic holiday image brought to vibrant life. For your home, or as the perfect holiday season gift, these bushy plants are perfect. You can grow it in a pot for years, moving it to frame your door for the holidays, or plant it permanently in the ground for an outstanding garden feature. Either way you, or a lucky recipient, will adore this easy-to-grow tree.
The Variegated English Holly is a bushy tree that will grow up to 18 inches a year, so that within 10 years it will be 15 feet tall. If left untrimmed one day it will be a majestic 40-foot specimen. It can be trimmed to keep it as a bushy cone of almost any size or left untrimmed to grow more tree-like. It holds its branches to the ground for many years. Grown in a pot or planter it can be kept just a few feet tall, a perfect specimen beside your front door in winter. The older stems and trunk are covered in smooth, light gray bark that is very attractive in winter. The leaves are 2½ inches long and 1½ inches wide, oval, with a beautiful rich glossy surface. The edges carry a row of sharp teeth. The center of the leaf is bright green, and around that is a broad irregular margin of bright creamy-white. This variegation turns a dark green bush into a beacon of light that shines out through the winter gloom. New leaves are bright pink, developing their white edges as they mature. In spring small greenish-yellow clusters of flowers can be found, but they can easily be missed. By fall, if you have a suitable male tree for pollination in the area, these will have turned into clusters of bright red berries that are quintessentially Christmas. The combination of white-edged leaves and brilliant red berries is a knock-out.
We love to see this vibrant bush in tubs or pots outside a door in winter – it’s the perfect door-step decoration for greeting everyone. You can keep this plant in a tub for years and grow it out in the garden, bringing it back to the door each holiday season. In the garden it can be planted around your home with other evergreens, out on the lawn as a specimen, in beds, along the edges of wooded areas, or as a screen or hedge.
The Variegated English Holly is hardy from zone 6 to zone 9. In cold parts of zone 6 some foliage damage is possible in winter – plant in a sheltered place. This holly grows best in climates with moderate summers and winters, such as along the east coast and in the north-west. For the South some of our other holly bushes, such as the American holly, Japanese holly and inkberry holly are better choices. It tolerates salt-spray well and grows happily close to the ocean.
The Variegated English Holly has amazing tolerance of shade, and it will grow everywhere from full sun to full shade beneath trees. The north side of a building is ideal. The best berry crops develop on plants with at least some sun each day. It grows well in most ordinary soils that are well-drained. Enrich planting spots with organic material and grow potted plants in blended soil mixtures for trees and outdoor plants.
Very little attention is needed for your variegated English Holly to grow well. Water regularly when young, and during long dry spells. Water plants in pots whenever the top inch of the soil has become dry. Feed potted trees with liquid tree fertilizer from spring to early fall. Pests or diseases are rare, and deer normally won’t eat it. Trim in summer and early fall to avoid removing developing berries. For a good berry crop there should be a male holly bush within 100 feet. Sometimes neighbors have a tree that will do the job. If not, plant one of our male trees, such as the Blue Prince Holly, or the Castle Wall Holly – beautiful trees in their own right – nearby.
The English holly, Ilex aquifolium, is part of the ancient forest system dominated by bay laurel trees that used to cover much of southern Europe. It is found from Britain to North Africa, and east to present-day Iran. It has been grown in gardens as an unequalled evergreen for centuries. Many varieties have been found among the millions of seeds sown around the world by gardeners, but the variety called ‘Argentea Marginata’ is considered by all experts to be the best of the variegated holly bushes. It must have been discovered a long time ago, but we don’t know anything of its history. It is sometimes called ‘Silver Beauty’ or ‘Silver Princess’.
We love to play Santa and bring joy to the holidays, and you will be thrilled with the Variegated English Holly as a gift for your own garden, or for someone else’s. In a planter of the garden, this beautiful plant says ‘Holiday Season’ in big bold colors of green, white and red. Its popularity means that supplies are always short, so order now while we still have these great plants on the farm.