Japanese holly is an evergreen shrub native to eastern Asia. It can grow up to 10 feet in height and usually reaches about 8 feet in width. Japanese holly plants are commonly grown as border shrubs or hedges, because of their size and dense foliage. The flowers bloom in late spring and are small and white in color. Japanese holly is easy to grow in most temperate climates around the world and requires only minimal care and maintenance.
Plant Japanese holly during spring, summer or fall in a location that receives full sunlight each day. Spread 3 inches of organic matter over the planting site and use a garden tiller to incorporate it into the soil. This will increase both the fertility and the drainage of the soil. Japanese holly cannot grow in locations with poor drainage, as root rot will occur and severely damage the plant.
Dig a planting hole 3 times as wide as the root ball of the Japanese holly and of equal depth. Place the root ball directly in the hole and refill with soil. Water thoroughly to compact the soil and to bring moisture into contact with the roots, which will encourage new growth.
Water Japanese holly once per week, but only after 2 weeks have passed without rainfall. Japanese holly plants are extremely drought tolerant and need little supplemental water to survive. Pour one 5-gallon bucket of water over the roots at each watering to thoroughly soak the soil.
Spread a 2-inch layer of mulch over the surface of the soil surrounding Japanese holly. Shredded cedar mulch is ideal, as it forms a thick mat over the soil that provides maximum water conservation. Start the band of mulch at least 2 inches from the stem of the Japanese holly plant to prevent potential fungal infestation or diseases.
Feed Japanese holly twice per year, once in spring and again in late summer. Spread 1 tbsp. of a balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer over the soil for each foot of the plant's height. A 6-foot tall plant should be fertilized with 6 tablespoons of fertilizer. Water the soil both before and after feeding to prevent nitrogen burn and to release the nutrients into the soil more rapidly.
Cut back the longest branches during summer to maintain Japanese holly. Do not prune the entire plant or it will form a thick, bushy exterior with a bare, leafless interior. Remove the branches as close to the stem as possible. A gap may be present in the foliage after removing a branch, but it will be quickly filled with new growth.
- Virginia Cooperative Extension Publications & Resources: Japanese Holly
- Book: Georgia Gardener's Guide; Erica Glasener and Walter Reeves; 2004
- Book: Groundcovers for the South; Marie Harrison; 2006
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