Ilex - Holly, Inkberry, Winterberry
DESCRIPTION:This group consists of about 400 evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs as well as numerous hybrids and cultivars. These attractive plants are commonly known as Holly. Hollies range from compact dwarfs to large trees that can reach a height of up to 50 feet. Hollies are valued for their beautiful leaves, which may be glossy green, gold, bluish-green or reddish-purple and are sometimes variegated or edged with cream, yellow, or silvery white. Some leaves are usually prickly while others don't have any spines at all. Hollies are also appreciated for their pretty berries, which may be red, yellow, orange, or black. Most Hollies are dioecious, meaning male and female flowers are produced on different plants. For the females to produce berries there must be a male plant near by. When choosing your plants, be careful when checking which ones are male and female, because some male plants have feminine names and some female plants have masculine names. I. altaclarensis var. Belgica Aurea is an attractive, female, large shrub or medium-sized tree covered with lightly spined, 3- to 4-inch, green leaves, which are mottled with light green and gray and edged with pale yellow or white. Another female variety of altaclarensis, called Lawsoniana, is a large shrub or medium tree that has very pretty, large, usually spineless leaves. The leaves are dappled with dark green, pale green and yellow. Any plain green shoots should be removed in order to preserve the variegation. I. aquifolium (English Holly) is a large shrub or small tree, capable of reaching 60 to 70 feet high in optimum conditions. This variety has glossy green leaves and bears bright red berries. Its berry-laden branches are in great demand during Christmas. There are numerous evergreen hybrids of this species that have varying shapes and colors; some, such as I. aquifolium 'Argentea Marginata Pendula' (Perry's Weeping Silver Holly), have pendulous branches covered with dark leaves edged with pale yellow. Most of this specie's varieties will flourish in industrial and coastal districts, but will not tolerate extreme heat and drought. These plants will form excellent hedges. I. crenata var. Mariesii is a dwarf, female, slow-growing shrub that almost doesn't resemble a holly at all. This variety forms a rigid, upright shrub up to 61/2 feet high that is excellent for growing in a container or for bonsai. It is covered with rounded, green leaves and in the winter, large, black berries.
POTTING: Most species are versatile and can live in any good garden soil in sun or partial shade. However, they will flourish in moist, but well-drained, loam. The native North American Hollies, such as I. glabra, opaca, and verticillata, all prefer moist, acidic soil and can usually survive wet conditions. I. cornuta will tolerate drought and heat. Plant your Hollies in early spring after the ground has completely thawed, because the roots will need the entire summer to become established. Keep the soil moist after planting and don't fertilize the first year. You will rarely need to prune your plants, except for those desired for a hedge. In that case, they should be pruned early to promote thick growth. Variegated Hollies need to be checked carefully for reverting shoots, since they can quickly take over if not cut out immediately and turn the variegated plant into a plain green one. Leaf miners are the most troublesome pest of the Hollies. They should be eradicated as soon as they are noticed or else they will destroy the leaves.
PROPGATION: Seeds or cuttings may be used to propagate your plants. Seeds take quite some time to germinate - sometimes 2 to 3 years. Once the berries have been gathered, mix them with moist sand and keep in a cold frame or cool cellar for a year. They should be turned every once in a while so that they don't dry out. In the second spring after the berries were collected, the mixture should be turned several times to make sure that the seeds are separated from each other. They can then be sown, sand and seeds together, and covered with gritty soil or sand. Another method is to sow the seeds directly in a cold frame as early in the spring as possible before the freshly gathered berries dry out. Seeds that were stored for a year at cool temperatures will probably start to come up after about 12 months and continue for at least another year. Those that were not stored in moist sand may take another year longer. Variegated species need to be increased by taking cuttings, grafting or budding on established stocks. Cuttings should be made of short (about 4in. long) shoots taken with a slight heel of old wood attached. These can be taken in September and October and inserted in a propagating case filled with sand in a greenhouse. You can hasten the formation of roots by dipping the cuttings into a rooting hormone before planting.
VARIETIES: I. altaclarensis (Altaclara Holly; Highclere Holly) & var. Belgica Aurea, Camelliifolia, Golden King, Hodginsii, Lawsoniana, Silver Sentinel, Wilsonii.
I. aquifolium (English Holly) & var. Amber, Argentea Marginata, Argentea Marginata Pendula, Bacciflava (Yellow-fruited Holly), Ferox (Hedgehog Holly), Ferox Argentea (Silver Hedgehog Holly), Ferox Aurea (Gold Hedgehog Holly), Flavescens, Golden Milkboy, Golden Queen, Golden van Tol, Green Pillar, Handsworth New Silver, J.C. van Tol, Madame Briot, Myrtifolia, Myrtifolia Aureomaculata, Pendula, Pyramidalis, Pyramidalis Fructu-Luteo, Silver Milkmaid, Silver Queen.
I. cornuta (Chinese Holly) & var. Burfordii.
I. crenata (Japanese Holly) & var. Convexa, Golden Gem, Helleri' (Heller's Holly), Mariesii.
I. glabra (Inkberry).
I. latifolia (Lusterleaf Holly).
I. meserveae (Meserve Holly; Blue Holly) & var. Blue Angel, Blue Prince, Blue Princess, China Boy, China Girl.
I. opaca (American Holly) & var. Greenleaf, Merry Christmas.
I.pernyi (Perny Holly).
I. verticillata (Winterberry).
Go see DICTIONARY OF BOTANICAL NAMES.
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