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American Holly - 'Ilex opaca'

The American Holly is a beautiful native evergreen to the United States. The American Holly has a slow to medium growing nature and is native from Massachusetts to Texas and across the southeastern United States. It is a broadleaf evergreen known for its hardiness in low temperatures and resilient growing nature. The American Holly produces beautiful red berries when planted within range of a male pollinator. It has a sweet smell when in bloom and is attractive to butterflies and bees. The American Holly has lustrous, dark green leaves, and with more than 1000 cultivars and counting, it makes an excellent home landscaping plant. It should be noted that in order to produce berries a male pollinator is needed.

american holly

Common Name: American Holly
Popular Varieties: Amy, Angelica, Cardinal, Canary, Carolina, Croonenburg, Farage, Goldie, Greenleaf, Howard, Jersey Knight, Jersey Princess, Manig, Merry Christmas, Miss Helen, Morgan's Gold, Old Heavy Berry, Satyr Hill, Stewart's Silver Crown, Wyetta
Type: Broadleaf Evergreen
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Leaves: Leaves are alternate, simple, evergreen, elliptic, and 1.5-3.5" long and half as wide. With lare remote spiny teeth, leaves are dull to dark yellow green and have great variation among trees.
Size: 40 to 50' in height with a spread of 18 to 40'; usually smaller, 15 to 30' in height is more reasonable under normal landscape conditions, takes a long time to get where it is going.
Hardiness: Zone 5 to 9. For an idea of your plant zone please visit the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.
Habit: Densely pyramidal in youth with branches to the ground, becoming in age open, irregular, and picturesque, high branching, the branches at a wide angle and contorted.
Rate: Slow
Flowers: Staminate in 3 to 9 flowered cymes; pistillate solitary, dull white; about the latest evergreen holly to flower around May. Berry-like, dull red rounded drupe, fruit is borne singly on .25" long stalks, maturing in October and persisting into winter. Furit display can be spectacular on good selections with a strong pollinator.
Diseases & Insects: This species is affected by many problems including holly leaf miner, bud moth, scales, beetles, whitefly, berry midge, southern red mite, tar spot, leaf spots, cankers, bacterial blight, twig die back, spot anthracnose, leaf rot, leaf drop, powdery mildews, spine spot (nonparasitic) and leaf scorch (physiological); leaf miner and scale are particularly troublesome.
Landscape Value: Specimen plant, grouping; requires male and female for fruit set; there are too many superior hollies to justify extensive use of this species but the list of cultivars is endless; on the east coast and south this is a favored plant; again, do not use seedlings; use one of many superior cultivars.
Soil Preference: Enjoys good, moist, loose, acidic, well-drained soil. Does not tolerate poor drainage under cultivation. It is pollution tolerant.
Care: Prune as needed and be sure to plant a male pollinator within proximity for berries in the late fall and early winter.
Fertilization: Use a slow-release, granular fertilizer labeled especially for acidic soil-loving plants. Apply only one application of fertilizer a year. American Holly especially benefit from a yearly mulch of used coffee grounds.

Planting Instructions: Dig a hole three times the diameter of the root system, with a depth no deeper than the original soil line on trunk. Break up the soil to the finest consistency possible. Place plant in hole and fill, compacting the fill dirt. Water the plant heavily to seal soil around the roots and remove air pockets.

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Interested in purchasing American Holly trees?
This product can only be shipped during the Winter and Spring shipping season.

We currently retain 'Jersey Princess', 'Saytr Hill', and 'Morgan's Gold' Ilex opaca American Holly 4 to 12" rooted cuttings in stock for Winter & Spring shipping seasons. We recommend 1 male polinating holly for every 3 female American Hollies to ensure berry production. We recommend either the 'Big John' Holly (Ilex opaca x Ilex cassine) or the 'Jersey Knight' Holly (Ilex opaca 'Jersey Knight') for male pollination needs. For further information regarding planting procedure and technique, please visit For a quote on larger quantities, please call or email us. We ship via Priority Mail from zip-code 37111 and DO NOT ship plants west of the Rocky Mountains.

We do have balled and burlapped American Holly available in wholesale quantities. We also have 'Saytr Hill' American Holly available in balled and burlapped. Please call with the size and quantity that you are interested in, and we will provide you with a quote. Wholesale orders are shipped dependent upon the customer's needs. Retail orders include shipping and package links and details are listed below.

Retail Packages

'Saytr Hill' American Holly rooted cuttings
5 for $35.00
10 for $65.00 (Package includes 1 'Jersey Knight' male holly for your pollinator)
40 for $200.00 (Package includes 2 'Jersey Knight' male hollies for your pollinators)
'Jersey Princess' American Holly rooted cuttings
5 for $35.00
10 for $65.00 (Package includes 1 'Jersey Knight' male holly for your pollinator)
40 for $200.00 (Package includes 2 'Jersey Knight' male hollies for your pollinators)
'Morgan's Gold' American Holly rooted cuttings
1 for $22.50
'Big John' American Holly rooted cuttings
1 for $22.50
'Jersey Knight' American Holly rooted cuttings
1 for $22.50

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