Jersey Knight American HollyIlex opaca 'Jersey Knight'
View more from Holly Trees
30 day - ARRIVE AND THRIVE™ guaranteeLearn more
Probiotic Root Stimulant
Ilex opaca 'Jersey Knight'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Jersey Knight American Holly is a reliable evergreen bush, that will soon grow to at least 8 feet and ultimately pass 20 feet tall, if untrimmed. It has a particularly dense habit, with branches to the ground until it is mature, or permanently if it is regularly trimmed. The leaves are exceptionally dark, and a rich, glossy green. Plant it as a hedge or a lawn specimen, at the back of large shrub beds or on the edges of woodland areas. This is a male tree and an excellent pollinator for almost all varieties of female holly trees, bringing big crops of red berries to them.
Grow the Jersey Knight American Holly in full sun or partial shade, from zone 5 to zone 9. Plenty of sun in northern areas, and afternoon shade in the south is ideal. Plant it in rich, moist, well-drained garden soil, and this tough tree grows well in most gardens, being drought-resistant once it is established. Avoid wet areas and standing water. Pests and diseases are rare, and deer usually avoid it. Trim in late spring and late summer, if needed.
Holly trees are loved by almost everyone for their dense, rich-green foliage, attractive all year round. The best grow into elegant pyramidal forms, with branches right to the ground, making striking lawn features or hedges. Many hollies are derived from European species, which can be fussy about climate and soil conditions, but we have our own hollies – American trees that have evolved to cope with our unique climates – that are more adaptable, and often much more suitable. The American holly is a stand-out species for its striking leaves and an abundance of red winter berries. For big crops of berries on all holly bushes a male pollinator tree is needed, and the Jersey Knight American Holly is ready to ride up and take on the job. Even better, this beautiful pyramidal tree is a great choice for hedges all by itself, because the foliage is so richly-colored and attractive that berries aren’t even needed.
The Jersey Knight Holly is an upright, densely-branched shrub or small tree with evergreen leaves. Even a small plant will be 8 feet tall and 3 or 4 feet wide within 10 years, and over time this tree can reach 20 or 30 feet tall, with a spread approaching 20 feet, making a striking and handsome specimen. Over time, if untrimmed, a strong trunk will develop, with an upright, pyramidal crown. The bark is smooth and attractive, with a gray color reminiscent of the beech tree.
The leathery leaves are 2 to 4 inches long, oval, and tapering to a point. The leaves are edged with a row of sharp spines, and they are much darker green and glossier than we see in most other forms of the American holly. In May clusters of greenish-white flowers are produced in bunches along the stems. These are male flowers, so no berries are produced. They will pollinate the flowers of several female holly trees, including all American hollies, most European hollies and Japanese holly varieties as well. If you already have holly bushes in your yard, one or two Jersey Knight trees will pollinate them, and give you bumper crops of berries on all your female holly trees.
With its rich green leaves and dense growth this bush is perfect for making a hedge that can be almost any height you wish. Holly hedges become very dense, and they make impenetrable barriers around your property. For a solid hedge, space plants 3 feet apart in an even row. This tree is also very attractive planted on a lawn as a specimen, with branches right to the ground. It can be used around your home as part of your foundation planting, between windows, against blank walls or in the angles of your walls. Use it alone or in groups to fill the corners of your property, or to create a screen at the back of large beds. Because it grows in light shade, this tree is perfect at the edges of wooded areas, where it can be left to grow naturally into a majestic tree. Wherever and however you grow it, you will love the beauty of the Jersey Knight Holly.
The Jersey Knight Holly is hardy across a wide part of the country, from zone 5 all the way into zone 9. In zone 5 an unusually cold winter may cause your tree to shed leaves. Don’t worry, because the branches are not dead, and new leaves will quickly be produced in spring. Your tree will be restored to its full beauty. Don’t make the mistake of trimming branches in spring just because they have no leaves at that time – wait a while.
The Jersey Knight Holly grows well in full sun or partial shade. In warm states, especially if your soil tends to be dry, afternoon shade is beneficial. Avoid heavy shade, which will make your tree grow more open, losing its attractive density. It grows well in any well-drained soil that is not too dry. Avoid wet areas and standing water, as drainage is important. Rich, moist, slightly acidic soils give the best results, but this tough tree grows well in most ordinary garden conditions.
Usually free of pests or diseases, and untouched by deer, the Jersey Knight Holly needs very little care and attention, but regular watering of young trees is advised. Some evergreen fertilizer can be applied in spring for optimal growth, especially if you trim regularly. Trim in late spring, after the new leaves have darkened in color. Trim again in late summer if needed. For the best hedges, trim young plants lightly as they grow. Early trimming gives you the densest branch structure.
The American holly, Ilex opaca, grows from New York west to Oklahoma and Indiana, and south to Texas and most of Florida. It grows in damp to wet areas of forests, beneath larger deciduous trees, which is why it grows well in shade in our gardens.
In 1945 a seedling American holly tree sprouted and grew naturally in the New Jersey garden of a certain Judge Thomas Brown. It was admired for its dense growth and especially dark green foliage. 20 years later, in 1965, Dr Elwin Orton of Rutgers University, who has bred many top-rated holly hybrids, named the Judge’s tree as ‘Jersey Knight’ and officially registered it. Since then it has become a favorite garden holly, both for its own beauty and as a valuable pollinator for other holly trees, ensuring big berry crops.
Not having a male holly in your garden is the usual reason for the failure of your bushes to carry berries. You will be amazed at the impact planting a male tree or two will have. Besides that, the Jersey Knight Holly is a wonderful hedge or specimen evergreen in its own right. Because many nurseries don’t bother to carry male trees, they are always in high demand but in short supply. Our stock will soon be sold out, so order now and enjoy a Merry Berry Christmas.