How to Feed Holly Bushes


Holly bushes produce broad, shiny green leaves with protruding spines around the edges and bright berries that range from light orange to fiery red. Many gardeners and homeowners landscape them as large, round topiaries, especially in places with cold, snowy winters. Evergreen hollies offer welcome spots of color during the winter months. They require little care other than some winter pruning and proper feeding. Fertilizing hollies helps them produce their signature red berries and keeps their leaves shiny and dark.

Things You'll Need

  • 10-20-10 evergreen fertilizer
  • Gardening gloves
  • Spade
  • Garden rake
  • Apply fertilizer around your hollies in spring or fall. Spring feedings absorb best after the ground is thawed but before new growth begins. Autumn feedings absorb best after the weather is steadily below 50 degrees Fahrenheit but before the ground freezes. Feeding at either time helps support new spring growth.

  • Pour small handfuls of evergreen fertilizer around the bases of your hollies about 6 inches from the central trunk. Wear garden gloves to protect your skin.

  • Smooth the layer to about 1 inch thick with your hands.

  • Drop small piles of fertilizer around your hollies with a spade starting at the edge of your hand-poured band, stretching outward and ending under the longest holly branch. This marks the edge of the drip line, or the farthest point from which the branches drip water after rain. Drop the piles as evenly as possible.

  • Rake the piles of fertilizer smooth and even. Use short, firm strokes to push the piles into a 1-inch layer.

Tips & Warnings

  • The numbers on fertilizer refer to the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in the fertilizer. For instance, 10-20-10 fertilizer strengthens holly leaves and the bush's internal structure.

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  • Photo Credit holly image by david purday from
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