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Ilex aquifolium
  • RHS AGM
  • RHS Plants for pollinators

common holly

I. aquifolium is a medium-sized evergreen tree, slow-growing when young, with dark, glossy green, undulate and usually strongly spiny leaves. Small, dull white flowers in spring are followed by bright red berries, on pollinated female plants

Other common names
English holly
holly
see moreholm
hulst
hulver
Synonyms
Ilex aquifolium 'Heterophylla'
Ilex aquifolium f. heterophylla
see moreIlex balearica

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Size
Ultimate height
Higher than 12 metres
Time to ultimate height
20–50 years
Ultimate spread
4–8 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Clay
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained, Well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring White Green
Summer White Green
Autumn Green Red
Winter Green Red
Position
  • Full sun
  • Partial shade
Aspect

South–facing or North–facing or East–facing or West–facing

Exposure
Exposed or Sheltered
Hardiness
H6
Botanical details
Family
Aquifoliaceae
Native to the UK
Yes
Foliage
Evergreen
Habit
Bushy
Potentially harmful
Berries may cause mild stomach upset if ingested. Wear gloves and wash hands after handling
Genus

Ilex can be deciduous or evergreen shrubs and trees with often spiny leaves, small white flowers (male and female usually on separate plants) and, on female plants, showy berries in autumn

Name status

Correct

Plant range
Europe, N Africa, S&W Asia

How to grow

Cultivation

Grows best in a well-drained soil in a sunny position; also suitable for partial shade

Propagation

Propagate by seed or semi-hardwood cuttings

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • City and courtyard gardens
  • Coastal
  • Cottage and informal garden
  • Flower borders and beds
  • Hedging and screens
Pruning

Pruning group 1

Pests

Aphids, scale insects and holly leaf miner may be a problem

Diseases

May be affected by holly leaf blight

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