Holly is a member of the Aquifoliaceae family, and comes in more than one species. Depending on the conditions in which it is grown, it can be a shrub or tree. To do well either way, holly needs fertile, slightly acidic and well-drained soil.
Holly is native to the eastern and southern states as these areas have more naturally acidic soils. To grow elsewhere, the soil probably will need treatment to increase the acidity level.
Holly is a perennial that needs a fertilizer based for acid-needing plants--a mixture that contains cottonseed meal or one formulated for evergreens. Do not use a fertilizer high in nitrogen, such as an ordinary lawn fertilizer. The one you choose should be applied either in late fall or early spring.
Look for a fertilizer that is made for broad-leaved evergreens that need acidic soils, such as the type used on rhododendrons.
Your holly should be planted in a semi-shaded area that is well-drained with soil that has a pH level between 5 and 6. Adding of 2 to 4 inches of coarse mulch help because that will help keep the root system moist and cool.
The holly bush, whether fertilized or not, can easily turn into a tree up to 50 feet tall. So unless that is your plan, prepare to do pruning.
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