Holly - Ilex aquifolium

Common Name: Common Holly
Genus/Generic Name: Ilex
Species/Cultivar: aquifolium

Aspect: Full sun, partial shade or shade
(variegated forms need sun)
Hardiness in UK: Hardy
Soil Requirements: light, good drainage.
Max Height: 65 ft (2000 cm)
Max Spread: 26 ft (800 cm)
Berries: November, December

Ilex aquifolium


Slow growing hardy evergreen tree or shrub, with a dense habitat. Tolerates poor soils and harsh conditions. Most varieties are either male or female, so both forms are usually required to produce berries.

Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Decorative Merits

All year round colour, with useful bright coloured red or orange berries in autumn and winter. The main cultivar (I. aquifolium) has spiny, dark green, glossy leaves. Variegated forms are available with deep green leaves, edged with either silver/white or yellow.

Planting Context

Useful as an evergreen shrub that can be grown as a dense hedge, specimen tree or as clipped bushes. Suitable for both large and small domestic gardens. Can be grown in containers.

Planting and Ongoing Care of Holly

Can be pruned regularly in spring to reduce its size for smaller gardens or if grown as a hedge. Can also be pruned back hard if necessary. Remove all reverted (all-green) branches on variegated forms.

Holly is a very tough plant once established and rarely affected by disease. Leaf scorch and leaf drop can occur on very exposed sites. Watch out for aphids on young shoots, holly leaf miner, scale and leaf spot.


To propagate Holly (Ilex aquifolium), sow seeds from October to March. Layer branches or plant 3 in (7.5 cm) semi-ripe cuttings in a cold frame in early autumn.