Holly bushes are essential evergreens in all the mild and warmer parts of the country. Their glossy foliage and bright red berries are enduring symbols of winter, and they add interest and color during this darkest time of year. In summer too, they create a strong backdrop to the color of our gardens, and for hedges they simply cannot be beaten. The Liberty Holly is an outstanding holly bush, well-adapted to hotter areas, with striking foliage and bright orange-red berries. It has a naturally pyramidal form, dense growth, and striking foliage that creates a distinctive look. If you are looking for holly bushes for a beautiful hedge, or as specimens in your garden, this is almost certainly exactly what you are looking for.
Growing Liberty™ Holly
The Liberty Holly grows rapidly and vigorously, adding about 18 inches each year when young, and so soon becoming a dense, upright, pyramidal plant of striking outline. With little or no trimming it will make a beautiful lawn specimen, or backdrop to your other garden planting. In time it will grow 15 to 20 feet tall, with a spread of between 12 and 15 feet. It can also easily be trimmed into the perfect formal specimen, on a lawn, along a driveway or walkway, or turned into a solid hedge or screen. Although it naturally grows quite large, it is easily trimmed and maintained at a smaller size, depending on your needs.
The most striking and unique feature of this holly is the foliage. Instead of the usual ‘holly leaf’ form, with several large spines, the leaves of the Liberty Holly are oval shaped, 3 to 4 inches long and 1½ to 2¼ inches wide. Along the edges is a tight row of short spines, with 15 to 20 spines on each side. This crisp ‘saw-tooth’ edging makes the Liberty Holly very attractive, and quite different from most other holly bushes. The leaves are a very dark, rich green, with a bright, glossy surface, and always look striking and attractive.
In spring inconspicuous flowers appear at the bases of the leaves, along the stems. These are yellowish-green, and they grow on the stems of the previous year. Over summer they turn into small green berries, which later turn yellow, and then by fall become bright orange-red, lasting throughout fall and most of the winter too. They make a wonderful showing, and really brighten the winter months. During the colder weather they will attract feeding birds to your garden too, bringing flashes of color and movement to the still winter scene.
Planting and Initial Care
The Liberty Holly is easy to grow in most garden soils, provided they are well-drained and not constantly saturated with water. This variety is well-adapted to warmer regions, and it thrives in zones 7 to 9. It will also grow well in sheltered spots in zone 6. Plant your trees in full sun for the densest growth and the most berries, but they will also grow in partial shade, where they can be kept denser by trimming. For a hedge, plant trees 5 to 8 feet apart, and up to 10 feet apart for a screen. With its rapid growth-rate, your Liberty Holly hedge will soon be dense and solid, and it will look wonderful all year round.
Trim lightly in late spring, to shorten the new growth back by a few inches. New shoots will develop from the cut branches, and these should be trimmed again in late fall. This trimming schedule will maximize the amount of newer, berry-carrying stems, while keeping your plants always looking neat. Fertilize in early spring with a suitable fertilizer for evergreens, and water during dry spells. Established plants are moderately drought resistant. This tree is rarely bothered by pests or diseases, making it easy to grow and trouble-free. For the best berry production, grow this tree within 200 feet of a male holly tree, ideally of a Chinese holly.
History and Origins of the Liberty™ Holly
The Liberty Holly originated as a seedling grown in 1989 by Jack Mitchell Magee, from Poplarville, Mississippi, from seed he collected from a tree of the holly, Ilex ‘Mary Nell’. That tree was created in 1962 by Joe McDaniel in Semmes, Alabama. He took pollen from a male tree of the Tarajo Holly (Ilex latifolia), which comes from southern Japan and China. He used this to pollinate a tree of the holly ‘Red Delight’, which is a hybrid between the Chinese Holly, Ilex cornuta and another Chinese species, Ilex pernyi. Mary Nell was the name of Joe McDaniel’s wife.
The Liberty Holly differs from its parent mainly in the unique dark, spiny foliage, and it was granted a patent in 2001. This complex hybrid parentage brings immense vigor and health to the Liberty Holly, making it a top-rate choice for rapid growth, toughness and vigor even in hot states, and for overall beauty. This desirable plant is in high demand, and our trees, grown under license, are top quality, and selling fast. To enjoy this unique tree in your own garden, order now while our stocks last.