Various species of holly (Ilex spp.) sometimes are enjoyed for their dense, attractive foliage, and red or black berries used frequently in holiday decorating. However, in some situations hollies are considered invasive or unwanted weeds. Hardiness varies among species. The widely cultivated American holly (Ilex opaca) grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zoned 5 through 9. Even where a holly is desired, its roots still may produce unwanted suckers that require control.
Things You'll Need
Sharp spade or pointed shovel
Loppers or saw
Glyphosate or triclopyr herbicide
Foam brush or spray applicator
Dig up or cut down the holly suckers at or below ground level if you suspect that the suckers are emerging from the root system of a desirable holly nearby. Treating these suckers with an herbicide could injure or kill the holly to which they are attached.
Cut the unwanted holly stems off at ground level if they are not attached to the root system of a desirable holly. Make the cut immediately before you plan to apply herbicide. Time this for when the holly is growing actively and not under drought stress to improve herbicide effectiveness. Make the cut as level as possible, and brush or blow any sawdust or other debris off of the cut surface.
Prepare an herbicide solution that contains 8 to 10 percent glyphosate or triclopyr unless otherwise directed by the manufacturer for cut surface or stump application. Look at the active ingredients list on the product label and observe the percentage of glyphosate or triclopyr in the product. Determine the ratio of product to water necessary, using this number, to create a solution that contains 8 to 10 percent glyphosate or triclopyr.
Brush the prepared herbicide onto the cut surface with a foam brush or apply it using a small hand sprayer. Cover the cut surface completely, but not to the point of runoff.
Monitor the area for at least a year, checking regularly for the emergence of any new suckers. Cut or dig these suckers out as soon as you notice them or, if the suckers are not attached to the root system of a desirable specimen, cut them down to ground level and apply a solution with 8 to 10 percent active ingredient to the cut surface.
Always prepare and apply herbicides carefully, and according to manufacturer recommendations for safe and effective use. Wear any personal protective equipment suggested on the product label.
- University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: Holly—Ilex spp.
- Arbor Day Foundation: Holly, American
- Whatcom County Noxious Weed Board: Control Options for English Holly
- University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: Woody Weed Invaders
- The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture: Common Herbicides for Ornamental Weed Control