How to Care for a Burford Holly Tree


Burford holly is a dense evergreen shrub or tree that can grow up to 25 feet tall and wide. It is a round shrub that is surprisingly tolerant of urban pollution and poor soil conditions. Burford holly's cold tolerance, however, reaches down only to 10 degrees F, so if you live in an area where the temperature drops below that, the plant will not grow outside. Whether you are growing a Burford as a tree or as a hedge shrub, you must create the correct environment for it to thrive.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Pruning shears
  • Fertilizer
  • Plant the Burford holly in an area with rich and well-drained soil and in full sun or part shade. The shrub grows best in sand, loam or clay and will tolerate both drought and flooding once established. The best berry production will occur when the shrub is in full sun. Plant multiple Burfords 3 to 4 feet apart for a dense hedge.

  • Water the holly, keeping it evenly moist until it starts to grow vigorously on its own. Then decrease the watering amount and frequency, allowing the ground to dry out. Since the shrub is drought-tolerant once established, it can survive on rainwater alone after it starts growing on its own.

  • Prune the Burford holly once a year in spring, before new growth starts. Cut any broken or diseased branches back to the trunk and any branches that seem out of place because they are so long. Yearly pruning should keep the shrub in check, although if you are using it as a hedge, you may have to clip the holly three or four times a year to keep it small.

  • Fertilize the plant once a year in the spring with a complete fertilizer. This will keep the foliage green. Follow the directions on the label for application instructions.

  • Check under the holly leaves once a month, looking for small yellow bugs with six legs. The Burford holly is particularly susceptible to tea scale, which drains the nutrients from the leaves. If you find them, spray insecticide on the leaves every seven to 10 days until the bugs are gone.

Tips & Warnings

  • To make a single Burford holly shrub into a tree, cut the lower branches back to the trunk. These wounds will heal over and give you a healthy trunk and a shapely tree.
  • Be careful while handling the plant, as it has sharp edges that can cut you easily.

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