Trees & Shrubs
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Try a Holly
by Don Janssen, UNL Extension Educator
If you want a plant in your landscape that others in your neighborhood don't have, try growing holly. For landscape purposes look to the Meserve hybrids, which are known for their winter hardiness and durability. However even these hollies appreciate a protected site out of wind and a bit of afternoon shade in summer. Soil should be moist, slightly acidic and well drained. If you are planning on adding hollies, prepare the soil with plenty of compost and sulfur according to a soil test. The east side of a house is a prime location for evergreen hollies.
Hollies come as male and female plants, so both are needed for fruit set. However, a single male can pollinate several females. Fruit is produced on the females. When purchasing hollies it is usually quite clear which is which with their sex appropriate names.
Of the Meserve hollies 'Blue Girl' and 'Blue Princess' and their corresponding 'Blue Boy' and 'Blue Prince' are the best. 'China Boy' and 'China Girl' tolerate heat better but may not be quite as winter hardy as the blue series. 'Blue Stallion' and 'Blue Maid' have lovely blue green leaves year around.
You may think of evergreen hollies first but there are some deciduous hollies probably better suited to our landscape conditions.
Common Winterberry, Ilex verticillata, is native to moist to wet areas of eastern North America. Winterberry is excellent massed in front of pine trees. It has a nice compact rounded habit of up to nine feet tall. The dark green leaves are rounded as opposed to the many pointed leaves of some evergreen hollies. Fall color is yellow tinged with maroon.
Winterberry is known for its berries as the name implies. The pea-sized fruit are abundant, bright red and not obscured by the leaves. Even though the fruit ripens in September they hang on until December or January. Birds enjoy the fruit but there always seems to be enough left to continue the fruit display.
The bright red fruit of cultivar 'Winter Red' hangs on until March or April for an outstanding winter display. The fruit is a little bigger than the straight species and tends to hold a nice bright red color longer. Leaves are a nice leathery dark green. 'Winter Red' can get 8-9 feet tall and wide. For smaller landscapes the cultivar 'Red Sprite' is best at only to 3-5 feet tall. 'Aurantiacum' has orange red fruits. 'Jim Dandy' is a nice pollinator.
Photo credit above: University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture Gardens
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County is your on-line yard and garden educational resource. The information on this Web site is valid for residents of southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area. If you live outside southeastern Nebraska, visit your local Extension office
Contact Information University of Nebraska-Lincoln
in Lancaster County
Web site: lancaster.unl.edu
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