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Common Name: American Holly      Latin Name: Ilex opaca      Size: 15 (min) to 40 (max)
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From Question and Answer Forums: What are others saying about this plant?
Does the American Holly like some shade as well as being planted next to Oak Trees because of the acidic soil
We have tried to plant hollies under our oak tree with NO success. I think it is just too dry for them to survive. We have a Japanes Kerria and Oakleaf hydrangea under the oak tree and they have survived for 20 years but we need to water the hydrangea on a regular basis, the Kerria seems more drought tolerant and is beautiful in the spring with its yellow blooms. Honestly we have not had much luck growing any holly in our yard, we do have shade and clay soil which is acidic so not sure why they dont thrive.
I have two hollies growing successfully under or near oak trees in fairly alkaline, clay soils. I suspect the drought you mentioned is a factor. Holly is an understory tree in the wild and should do well in an acid soil situation.
Plant Facts
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PlantPlaces.com QR Code American Holly
Ilex opaca
Origin: Massachusetts to Florida, west to Missouri and Texas
Maximum Height: 40 feet

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Category: EvergreenTree
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Genus: Ilex
species: opaca
Origin: Massachusetts to Florida, west to Missouri and Texas
Size: 15 (min) to 40 (max)
Size Description: Medium
Notes: Slow growth. Use male and female for best fruit set.
PlantPlaces.com Plant of the Week: December 9, 2012, 2012
Ilex opaca – American Holly

The plant of the week theme for December is plants I enjoy for the Christmas holidays. Last week’s plant was Nandina ‘Firepower’. This week it is the American Holly- Ilex opaca. American Holly is a classic plant for decorating around the house. The cut sprigs of Holly with berries are perfect for adding to wreaths, swags, and around candle centerpieces. The tree itself makes a great winter display out in the garden as well. Birds love the protection of the sharp edges of the evergreen foliage. The bright red berries are a welcome sight especially with a fresh coating of winter snow.

American Holly is a medium sized evergreen tree growing 20-30 feet tall. Hollies are dioecious, meaning there is a female plant that has berries and a male plant that has no berries but pollinates the female plant. If you have a male American Holly nearby, you would only need to purchase a female holly. How would you know? Many times you can see if other Hollies are fruiting in your neighborhood. If you want to make sure you are getting pollination purchase both a male and a female holly. This also goes for the shrub Hollies as well.

American Hollies prefer a deep, rich, low pH, well-drained soil. In Cincinnati you will see American Holly doing well in older established neighborhoods with good, rich, undisturbed soils. A new subdivision where the soil has been removed or the soil is very thin does not make a good planting site for American Holly. American Holly likes being planted in the understory of very large trees or with some protection from the hot afternoon sun and away from strong winter winds.

American Holly can have two problems. One is the Holly Leaf Miner. This is easy to see if you know what to look for. The leaf miner makes small irregular mines that can be seen on the leaves. If your Holly has this problem there will be higher than normal leaf drop and the plant will be thin. Follow your State University recommendations on control methods. Timing of control will be important. The second problem is often a pale green look to the holly. This could be either poor fertility in the soil or too high of a pH and the iron needed for good green leaves is locked in the soil and unavailable to the plants. A good fertilization program is needed when this occurs.

Some of my favorite cultivars are ‘Judy Evans’, ‘Merry Christmas’, and a yellow fruited variety called ‘Canary’. If you love seeing American Holly, Louisville, Ky. has some of the best displays. Yew Dell Gardens is the former home of the late Theodore Klein who was one of the best growers of American Holly. The second is Bernheim Forest and Arboretum just south of Louisville Ky. Theodore Klein helped start this collection donating many of the original plants from his nursery to the late Buddy Hubbuch who was then the horticulturist at Bernheim. Locally Spring Grove Cemetery has some beautiful specimens throughout the grounds. Keep your eyes out for some beautiful American Holly this Christmas season. Consider planting one of the many beautiful cultivars this spring in your garden. If it doesn’t fit consider donating one to your school, church or your Local Park and share the beauty!

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Characteristics: star rating Recommended star rating Winter Interest star rating Native star rating Rain Garden
Texture: Medium in
Availability:star ratingstar ratingstar ratingstar ratingGood Availabilty
Sustainability:star ratingstar ratingstar ratingGood
Deer Resistance: star ratingstar ratingstar ratingstar ratingGood ResistanceSee plants that are deer resistant.
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This plant is on the recommended list of: Ron Rothhaas Deer Resistant Attracts Birds Scott Beuerline Kris Barton Chris Maphet Alternatives to Invasive Plants Alternatives to Invasive Plants
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Colors
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Plant Images and Specimens
Picture of
Winter Appearance
Location: Indian Hill Church, Indian Hill, Ohio
Age: Medium
Photo Credit: R. Scott Beuerlein
Season: Winter
Picture of
Group Planting
Location: Northern Kentucky Greater Cincinnati International Airport
Age: Young
Planted By: CVG
Photo Credit: R. Scott Beuerlein
Season: Summer
Picture of
Winter Fruit
Photo Credit: R. Scott Beuerlein

Picture of
Flowers
Photo Credit: R. Scott Beuerlein
Season: Spring
Picture of
Large Tree
Location: Mt. Washington Cemetery, Cincinnati, Ohio
Age: Old
Photo Credit: R. Scott Beuerlein
Season: Summer
Picture of
Large Trees
Location: Observatory Ave., Hyde Park, Cincinnati
Age: Old
Photo Credit: R. Scott Beuerlein

Location: Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens 3400 Vine Street Cincinnati OH 45220
GPS location of this plant [Latitude: 39.142856450000000 Longitude: -84.506970650000000] Specimen: 1279
Location: Spring Grove Cemetery 4521 Spring Grove Ave Cincinnati OH 45232
GPS location of this plant [Latitude: 39.164148883333300 Longitude: -84.525445350000000] Specimen: 1408
Location: National Arboretum 3501 New York Avenue Northeast Washington DC 20002
GPS location of this plant [Latitude: 38.911147716666700 Longitude: -76.959157533333300] Specimen: 1605
Location: National Arboretum 3501 New York Avenue Northeast Washington DC 20002
GPS location of this plant [Latitude: 38.911023583333300 Longitude: -76.959742816666700] Specimen: 1610
Location: National Arboretum 3501 New York Avenue Northeast Washington DC 20002
GPS location of this plant [Latitude: 38.911136216666700 Longitude: -76.959878633333300] Specimen: 1612
Location: National Arboretum 3501 New York Avenue Northeast Washington DC 20002
GPS location of this plant [Latitude: 38.911100500000000 Longitude: -76.959876183333300] Specimen: 1622
Location: National Arboretum 3501 New York Avenue Northeast Washington DC 20002
GPS location of this plant [Latitude: 38.911100500000000 Longitude: -76.959876183333300] Specimen: 1623
Legacy Plant. Planted for: 1982 Graduation Class Page School Planted By: 1982 Graduation Class Page School Message: US Capitol Grounds Commemorative Tree, June 14, 1982
Location: United States Capitol Complex Capitol Hill Washington DC 20515
GPS location of this plant [Latitude: 38.891383900000000 Longitude: -77.008197000000000] Specimen: 1624
PlantPlaces.com Plant Legacy

American Holly
Ilex opaca

Planted For: 1982 Graduation Class Page School
Donated By: 1982 Graduation Class Page School
Message: US Capitol Grounds Commemorative Tree, June 14, 1982

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Ilex opaca IlexOpaca2Sign.JPG
Commemorative Plaque
Location: US Capitol Grounds
Age: June 14, 1982
Planted By: 1982 Graduation Class Page Schoolq
Photo Credit: Brandan Jones
Season: Spring 2012
Ilex opaca IlexOpaca2CapitolHill3.JPG
Commemorative Tree
Location: US Capitol Grounds
Planted By: 1982 Graduation Class Page Schoolq
Photo Credit: Brandan Jones
Season: Spring 2012
Legacy Plant. Planted for: Page School Class of 1957 Planted By: Page School Class of 1957 Message: 25th Anniversary of the Page School Class of 1957
Location: United States Capitol Complex Capitol Hill Washington DC 20515
GPS location of this plant [Latitude: 38.891281666666700 Longitude: -77.007942250000000] Specimen: 1714
PlantPlaces.com Plant Legacy

American Holly
Ilex opaca

Planted For: Page School Class of 1957
Donated By: Page School Class of 1957
Message: 25th Anniversary of the Page School Class of 1957

Contact us to order an aluminum plant label like this from PlantPlaces.com!
Ilex opaca IlexOpacaCapitolHillSign.JPG
Commemorative Plaque
Location: US Capitol Grounds
Age: June 12, 1982
Photo Credit: Brandan Jones
Season: August 2012
Ilex opaca IlexOpacaCapitolHill.JPG
Commemorative Tree
Location: US Capitol Grounds
Age: June 12, 1982
Photo Credit: Brandan Jones
Season: Spring 2012
Location: Newport Kentucky Neighborhood Plants Newport KY
GPS location of this plant [Latitude: 39.095328016666700 Longitude: -84.488656416666700] Specimen: 1823
Location: Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens 3400 Vine Street Cincinnati OH 45220
GPS location of this plant [Latitude: 37.572338730000000 Longitude: -84.287641460000000] Specimen: 2795
Location: Brooklyn Botanic Garden 900 Washington Avenue Brooklyn NY 11225
GPS location of this plant [Latitude: 40.670199010000000 Longitude: -73.965740160000000] Specimen: 5966
Ilex opaca plantplacesimage20141220_112940.jpg
Location: brooklyn bot garden

Location: Harrisburg, PA
GPS location of this plant [Latitude: 40.265853770000000 Longitude: -76.882430350000000] Specimen: 10735
Ilex opaca plantplacesimage20170710_183319.jpg
State Capitol building
Location: Harrisburg, PA

Ilex opaca plantplacesimage20170710_183343.jpg
State Capitol building
Location: Harrisburg, PA

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