How to Prune Hollies

Hollies are a type of plant that produces great berries for wildlife in the area. Prune hollies with help from a gardening specialist in this free video clip.

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Video Transcript

I'm Mark Viette. I'm going to show you how to prune hollies. Hollies can get big. Well, in fact, little plants can get huge and when this plant was planted I'm sure it was a small plant, probably two or three feet. Now, you're looking at it and it's close to 22 feet tall. This is an American holly. This produces great berries for wildlife. Right to my side here is an English holly. These also can be pruned. Now, there may be certain types of hollies you don't want to prune, but keep in mind you have two choices, this plant is so big it dwarfs the house. You could either rip it out and start over or on the other hand with this American holly I'm going to come in and prune it hard. I'm going to take off anywhere from 18 to 24 inches of its growth and over the next three or four years it will grow and in the future it's going to look again like this and I'm going to take it back to its size. Ideal times to prune hollies are going to be in the Spring, early Spring and in some cases even early Summer. All you have to do is get some great tools. It's important to use the very best tools and you just come in and you start working on it and you start pruning it back. Always keep in mind to wear eyewear and glovewear if needed. The other thing I really don't recommend getting on ladders to prune something like this. Leave that to someone who is a professional. It's important to make sure when you're pruning that there's no nests in the holly tree. That's why I like to prune them a little bit earlier before your robins and doves and other birds will nest in them. Also watch out as I've found a few minutes ago a wasp nest so you want to be careful that whatever you're doing is going to be safe. Just start, I usually work my way from the outer branches, some people will wear gloves because hollies can be prickly. I don't really care but I'm going to work my way in and if you look even as you work in the branch you can see a little shoot right there that will grow again. So you want to kind of prune to a shoot if there's one available. As you notice, as I prune in, I'm going to come to a point and I like to use hand trimmers unless the stems are larger but I'm just going to come in here and I'm going to prune it and you're going to see right on this branch here, this is where it was pruned about four years ago. So I'm going to come right outside that point and I'm going to prune right to here. And you just work your way around the tree and this might be a job for two people. You know I find that gardening is exercising and rejuvenating and not only are you rejuvenating your tree, but you're rejuvenating yourself. So it can give you a great workout. So you just work your way around and you continue to go all the way around and in a minute you're going to see a totally drastic change. As you can see, I've pruned quite a bit off of this holly tree. Not only did I rejuvenate this tree but as you can tell, I rejuvenated myself but look at the length of the branches I've removed. We have about 90 to 100% success by trimming back hollies as hard as we did here. Now remember, this is an American holly. Choices I had leave it, let it get bigger or rip it out or as you see here the best option was to trim it back hard. I'm Mark Viette, and this is how you can prune an American holly.


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