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Zone
Zones 4-9, 14-17, 31-34, H1
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular Water
Moderate
Toxicity
Berries poisonous.

Ilex aquifolium 'Gold Coast'

English holly
Aquifoliaceae
Evergreen, Shrubs

ILEX

Many hundreds of species and hybrids exist. Smaller kinds are attractive as foundation plantings or low hedges; larger evergreen sorts make attractive and impenetrable tall hedges or screens.

In size, they range from foot-high dwarfs to trees 40–50 ft. tall. Many hundreds of species and hybrids exist. Smaller kinds are attractive as foundation plantings or low hedges; larger evergreen sorts make attractive and impenetrable tall hedges or screens.

Nearly all holly plants are either male or female, and as a rule both sexes must be present in order for female plants to set fruit. Best bet is to plant a male of the same species as fruiting females; if you use a different species, berries will form only if both plants flower at the same time. Varieties described below are female unless otherwise noted. A few are self-fruitful; these also are noted.

Most hollies prefer rich, slightly acid garden soil with good water drainage. (A few exceptions are noted.) All appreciate a mulch to deter weeds and keep soil cool and moist. Though plants will grow in sun or part shade, choose a sunny spot for best berry production and most compact growth. Scale can cause problems in all holly-growing areas. Holly bud moth and leaf miner need attention on English holly in the Northwest; for control, employ only products currently registered for use against those pests. Diseases are rarely a problem for home gardeners.

Most hollies tend to be dense and symmetrical. Prune mainly to remove poorly placed, broken, or dead branches. Winter holiday season is good time to prune, because clipped branches can be used for indoor decoration. You can restore a holly that has become too open or ragged by severely shortening its branches and allowing new growth to fill in. Small-leafed hollies can be sheared into formal hedges or topiary figures.

Ilex aquifolium
Ilex aquifolium

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Ilex aquifolium

From Great Britain, southern and central Europe. English holly (I. aquifolium) is the most familiar in song and legend (and in Christmas wreaths), but this species thrives mainly in mild parts of the Pacific Northwest, coastal Northern California, and the east; in fact, it has become invasive where it grows the best.

Slow growth to 40 ft. tall and 25 ft. wide, usually much less. Highly variable in leaf shape, color, and degree of spininess.

'Gold Coast'

Grows 6 to 8 ft. tall and wide. Leathery dark green leaves have sharp-pointed gold edges. This is a male plant.

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