How Do You Take Care of Holly Bushes?

How Do You Take Care of Holly Bushes?

American holly bushes feature evergreen foliage with bright red berries, and are known to be adaptable, pest resistant and forgiving. It's maintenance needs include regular pruning, seasonal pruning and fertilization. You need disinfected hand pruners and a general purpose fertilizer for proper care. Plan for 20 minutes per bush.

  1. Prune regularly

    Remove damaged, diseased or dead branches promptly to discourage infection. Trim to maintain the shape of your hedge. Prune the outer leaves lightly for more berries in the fall.

  2. Cut back holly bushes yearly

    Perform major pruning when it's dormant. Work from the inside out, and thin out the bush by removing smaller branches to keep growth in check. Cut above new leaf buds. Allow lower limbs to branch to the ground instead of cutting them. Never trim lower branches shorter than those above them. Initiate restorative growth at this time by removing large amounts of foliage.

  3. Maintain a healthy bush

    Fertilize once a year, just before or after dormancy, and mulch if needed. Use 1 to 2 inches of pine needles or wood chips to help maintain the slightly acidic soil pH that holly prefers. Protect your bush from extreme winds or sun exposure, and cover it with burlap in the coldest months.