Different Types of Holly Plants for Your Yard


Discover various types of holly plants, their unique characteristics, growth conditions and propagation techniques to enhance your garden's appeal.

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Picture this. You’re strolling through a garden store, eyes wide with wonder. Then you spot the diverse array of holly plants, each more captivating than the last!

The holly varieties can be overwhelming— from the common types with their dark green spiky leaves and bright red berries to the Japanese Holly with small black berries. Or the “Sky Pencil” variant that stands tall and slender.

But how much do you really know about these popular types of holly plants? This post will guide understanding of the diversity within the Ilex genus, from their defining characteristics to propagation techniques and safety concerns associated with traditional varieties of hollies.

By the end, you’ll have gained invaluable knowledge on various types of plants within the Holly family that can transform any space into an evergreen paradise!

Table Of Contents:

holly plants in yard

Our Sideporch Upgrade

We upgraded the appearance of our side porch by adding three types of holly plants.

Holly Plants: More Than Just Pretty Leaves

Did you know that holly plants are a diverse group with around 480 species globally?

Their glossy green leaves with spiny leaves or serrated edges make them stand out, and they offer year-round interest for houseplant owners and amateur gardeners alike.

But it’s not just about looks – Holly species come in all shapes and sizes, too, from petite shrubs to towering holly trees reaching up to 60 feet.

What Makes Holly Plants Unique?

Hollies are known for their evergreen foliage and bright red berries, but some varieties also produce yellow or black berries.

Each type has its unique leaf shape, from smooth-edged to sharply toothed.

Size Matters: Different Holly Species

English Hollies can grow up to 50 feet tall, while Chinese Hollies typically stay under 20 feet.

Remember, understanding your plant’s needs is key when deciding where it should be planted within your home or garden, so do your homework before bringing one home.

Caleb planting holly plant in the ground

Exploring Different Types of Holly Plants

  • English Holly, its sharp leaves and vibrant red colorful berries, is a delight during the holiday season.
  • Chinese Holly thrives in full sun or partial shade, making them perfect for tricky garden spots.
  • The Sky Pencil variant adds an architectural element to your landscape.
  • Brass Buckle offers compact growth habits with golden-yellow foliage providing year-round interest.
  • American Holly is not just about looks – birds love their berries too.
  • Yaupon Holly has a high water tolerance level making them excellent choices for areas with frequent rainfall or poorly drained soils.
  • Inkberry Holly is a slow-growing broadleaf evergreen that is easy to grow and offers color for your winter garden.
  • Blue Holly “Blue Princess” is a female evergreen species of the blue holly evergreen shrub.
  • I like to buy my Holly Plants from Perfect Plants Nursery. Use code HOUSEFUR10 to save 10% on your purchase!

Propagation Techniques For Various Types Of Hollies

Want to grow your own holly plant? It’s easier than you think.

Note: Holly plants are dioecious, meaning there are male and female plants – only female plants produce berries, but they rely on nearby males for pollination.

A Step-by-step Guide On Propagating Through Branch Cutting

  1. Choose a healthy 4-to-6-inch branch from the parent holly plant and cut it below the bud union using sharp pruning shears.
  2. Dip the end of your cutting in rooting hormone before planting in the well-draining soil mix.
  3. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged until roots develop, which usually takes about six weeks.
  4. You can check root development by gently tugging at the stem – if there’s resistance, congratulations. You’ve got roots.
  5. Once you have your cutting has roots, it’s time to nurture it – each type of holly has specific needs, so be sure to research what yours requires.

Importance & Role Played By Male Pollination

If you want those iconic vibrant colored berries associated with holiday decorations, remember – no boys means no berries.

While female holly plants produce show-stopping berries, male hollies are responsible for pollination.

Ensure having both male and female plants within close proximity for successful cross-pollination leading towards berry production, making this versatile flora an even more appealing addition to any garden space.

Toxicity Levels in Traditional Hollies

Be mindful of the potential risks when adding hollies to your garden; they can be hazardous if ingested, especially for young ones. The toxicity of holly berries can differ between species, and even a few ingested may bring about nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea in grown-ups.

All holly berries contain varying toxicity levels, which can be harmful if ingested, especially for children. According to the National Capital Poison Center, larger quantities may lead to drowsiness or slowed breathing.

three varieties of holly planted by porch

Safer Alternatives: Grape-Holly

If you want the aesthetic appeal of hollies without the associated toxicity risks, consider alternatives like “Grape Holly” (Mahonia).

These foundation plants offer similar benefits and are ideal for households with young members, adding a pop of color throughout different seasons.

FAQs about Types of Holly Plants

What are the different types of holly?

There are numerous types of hollies, including English Holly, Chinese Holly, Sky Pencil, Brass Buckle, American Holly, Yaupon Hollies, Possumhaw, and Inkberry – each with unique attributes and growth conditions.

What are the top 5 hollies?

Due to their beauty and adaptability, the top five popular types of Holly often include English Holly, American Holly, Sky Pencil, Yaupon Hollies, and Winterberry.

Are holly plants safe?

Although hollies are attractive additions to any garden, they can be toxic if ingested. To avoid risks, try safer alternatives like Mahonia (Grape-Holly), or make sure you keep these shrubs out of the reach of small children.

dog looking at camera next to porch
Of course, Vík helped us with the yard work. 🙂


We hope this post has offered you valuable insight into the many hollies available!

Remember, always take note of their particular needs when deciding where to plant, and don’t forget about male pollination for those signature berries!

Happy planting!

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