The glossy, spined, dark green leaves of English holly are beautiful year round, but look particularly alluring in fall and winter when contrasted with its clusters of cheerful red berries. A tall, pyramid-shaped, broadleaf evergreen tree, it is native to southern and western Europe, western Asia and extreme northern Africa.
The leaves can be quite variable on this species, but are generally dark glossy green and oval-shaped with widely spaced spines on the wavy margins. Leaf undersides are a lighter matte green. As with most hollies, this species bears either entirely male or female flowers on separate plants. Bees pollinate the flowers and by early fall, female trees produce an attractive crop of small, round berries which are usually red but may rarely be orange or orange-yellow. Birds will nab the fruits in winter as needed for survival, and often are the reason seedlings sprout up haphazardly around the landscape.
Grow English holly in full to part sun and fertile, well-drained, acid to neutral soil. This species is tolerant of alkaline soils, but it is very important to amend the soil in such cases with mulch and other organic matter to prevent nutritional deficiencies that will become very apparent in the foliage. In hot, dry regions, protect this tree from winds and note that it is resistant to oak root fungus. Use it as a tall, elegant screen or hedgerow, or as a lovely corner accent on large houses or commercial buildings. The foliage and fruits are highly desired as decorative cut sprigs for Holiday decorations.
English holly self-sows in favorable climates, and is considered a weed in parts of Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.
Information source: http://www.learn2grow.com/plants/ilex-aquifolium/
Genus - Ilex
Species - Aquifolium
Common name - English Holly
Pre-Treatment - Required
Hardiness zones - 7 - 9
Height - 7 - 20 m
Plant type - Shrub
Vegetation type - Evergreen
Exposure - Full Sun, Partial Sun
Growth rate - Slow
Soil PH - Acid, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil type - Clay, loam, Sand, Well Drained
Water requirements - Average Water
Landscape uses - Cutflower, Feature Plant, Foundation, Hedges, Screening / Wind Break, Shade Trees
Bloom season - Spring
Leaf / Flower color - Green / White, Ivory
1. Soak the seeds in a bowl of cool water for 48 hours to soften the hard outer hull before sowing them.
2. Fill a seedling tray with a mixture of 3 parts compost and 1 part perlite. Firm the mixture and add more, if necessary, so the seedling tray is filled to the brim.
3. Sow the holly seeds in the seedling tray one inch apart and 5 mm deep. Spread a thin layer of coarse sand onto the surface of the mixture to help hold in moisture and to keep it cool.
4. Moisten the potting mix to a depth of 2-3 cm using a garden hose with a misting nozzle attachment. Maintain moisture within the mixture at a depth of 3 cm at all times during germination.
5. Place the seedling tray into a ventilated cold frame after sowing the holly seeds. Do not move the seedling tray once it is in the cold frame since sudden temperature fluctuations will cause the seeds to go dormant.
6. Close the ventilation on the cold frame in spring to help hold in warmth once daytime temperatures rise above +15C during the day. Check the moisture level in the growing mixture often since the warmer temperatures will dry it out faster than during the cold winter months.
7. Watch for germination in late spring, but do not be discouraged if seedlings don't appear until autumn. As soon as they appear, transplant the holly seedlings into 3 liters containers filled with garden soil.
8. Keep the nursery containers inside the cold frame until the following spring. Water them regularly to a depth of 3 cm to keep them from wilting.
9. Move the holly seedlings from the cold frame to a sheltered, partially shaded spot once daytime temperatures reach +15C in the spring. Keep them in their nursery containers until they grow to 15 cm in height, and then plant them in a sunny bed with good drainage.
Information source: eHow.com
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