blue hollyMeserve Hybrid Hollies

This is a group of hybridized hollies.  They were developed by “crossing” other holly types to produce cold-hardy plants with beautiful foliage – 2 noble goals.

The term blue holly represents several hollies within the Meserve Holly group.  I do have my favorites, but each one has its own beauty especially when sited correctly.  By sited correctly I mean planted in favorable conditions for that particular plant.

The blue holly group is certainly cold hardy.  In fact,  as far north as into parts of zone 4.  Certain varieties have been found to be a bit more cold-hardy than others.  For example, Blue Maid Holly (pictured above) is considered one of the hardiest.

Note: Even though blue holly is cold hardy, I would still spray them with an anti-transpirant as an added measure of winter protection.  Any broadleaf evergreen will suffer winter burn if conditions are right, such as frozen ground, winter sun and wind.

blue hollyIn the south (e.g. zones 7 – 9) they generally don’t fair as well as in colder climates.  If you’re in those zones consider planting where they’ll get some afternoon shade.

Form and Growth Habit

Blue holly’s mature form is either pyramidal or upright and rounded.  When healthy (this goes back to “siting correctly”) it is a dense evergreen.  The leaves are glossy and almost blue-green.  There are fine, spiny teeth on the leaf edges – but not as pronounced as those on American Holly.

Blue holly varieties are dioecious, meaning there are male and female plants.  If you want the female to produce berries you’ll need a male holly nearby (at least within 300 ft.).

blue holly 'blue princess'What Blue Holly Likes (and doesn’t like)

Generally, they like full sun.  They will get thinner with less light, which in a “natural” setting can be acceptable.

Blue holly adapts to different soil types, but avoid planting in poorly drained soil.  Plants that are in heavy wet clay can, for example, weaken and become predisposed to disease like Phytophthora.

As far as pruning goes, I trim them selectively with hand pruners.  Of course large hedges can be done with shears to be more practical and productive.

How Do They “Work” In The Landscape?

When I say this plant is versatile in planting design, I’m not kidding.

The top picture shows blue holly as a hedge.  Is that beautiful or what?  Notice the space this hedge has to grow forward – very smart.  You could plant a groundcover or low perennial in that open space while the holly continues to grow.

The picture to the right shows a blue holly used as a single plant in a mixed garden.  It offers year round interest with its deep, rich color and texture.

I have also used blue holly as a screen plant to hide utilites.  In the border garden it masses nicely in groups of any number (they say always work in “odd” numbers).  There you can arrange them in a stagger and let them grow together naturally.  For foundation plantings it makes an excellent corner plant either by itself or in a grouping.

As always (I’ll bet you know what I’m going to say) space blue holly appropriately.  They have the potential to get 8 – 10′ high and 6 – 8′ wide.

Here are some of the blue holly varieties you’ll probably come across:

  • ‘Blue Angel’
  • ‘Blue Boy’
  • ‘Blue Girl’
  • ‘Blue Maid’
  • ‘Blue Prince’
  • ‘Blue Princess’
  • ‘Blue Stallion’
  • Joan Higgs
    2:38 PM, 24 August 2012

    When is it ok to prune our blue maid hollys?


    • Roger
      9:36 PM, 27 August 2012

      Once the new growth has matured and “hardened-off” it’s OK to prune. I can tell you that right now (last week in Aug.) we’re pruning, and will continue into the 2nd week of Sept.

  • Norman
    5:59 PM, 21 June 2013

    I have 2 blue maid hollys next to my front steps. Both were planted
    last fall. They seemed to be doing fine so I was ignoring them (ie no watering). The spring overall was moderately wet and we are still getting
    rain about once per week. All of a sudden, the leaves on about 10% of one of the plants turned black and started dropping off. The associated branches appear to be dead but I haven’t cut them off as yet. The other plant still looks fine.
    Any idea what the problem is. I thought the two sites were essentially identical.

    • Roger
      3:28 PM, 2 September 2013

      Are the blackened leaves and related branches random on the plant? In other words, are there other branches & stems (the other 90%) healthy with no sign of problems? If so, I begin to think of root damage that would relate to those particular branches that are failing. Certainly there could be other issues, but that’s what comes to mind.

      You say the 2 sites were identical. They sound close to one another. Did the soil quality seem the same when you planted them? Did you follow the same procedure in planting them both, including the height of the root-ball relative to the existing grade? Is there too much mulch under the plant and up against the stem/trunk?

      Another possibility is that the plant was not a good transplant from the nursery. Was it a balled & burlapped plant or did it come in a container? There’s more of a likelihood of root damage in a balled & burlapped transplant than a container grown plant.

      As you can see there are a number of potential reasons for the plant’s problem.

  • Joe
    9:26 AM, 25 September 2013

    Does blue holly require pollination. I have amrican holly bushes that I would like tto plant the blue holly in the middle. Thankyou

    • Roger
      10:06 AM, 25 September 2013

      Yes, the blue hollies do require pollination. And I’m not sure a male American Holly (Ilex opaca) will do it. My guess is it will. Of course there’s also the possibility there’s a male pollinator nearby. You could try it and see if the blue (female) holly gets berries. If it doesn’t, perhaps you could plant a male too.

  • Ed
    10:09 AM, 10 January 2014

    I have had a difficult time locating a mail-order source for blue angel holly. Any suggestions?

    • Roger
      10:46 AM, 10 January 2014

      I don’t have any experience with mail order sources for plants. All my experience has been with “landscape sized” plant material purchased through suppliers and plant brokers in my area.

      There are plant locator services out there, and I found this one online that seems well-established. Perhaps you could try sourcing through them, or at least getting some information.

      I wish I could be more helpful.

  • Phil
    10:45 AM, 3 February 2014

    Good morning, i have several blue girl hollies planted and all of them appear to be losing leaves and growing to light green color on the south facing side, i live in Islip NY These were all planted in mid summer in 2012 and are about 3 feet tall.

    • Roger
      11:18 AM, 3 February 2014

      It’s hard to say what’s troubling the blue girl hollies w/o being there and observing all the conditions.

      The way you describe things it could be a cultural issue (vs. insect or disease). Perhaps the southern exposure is too much. Or, possibly your soil may be too different from the soil they were grown in. Did they come in containers/pots? The soil media used in nursery pots is often very porous and light. This dynamic can be challenging when trying to establish new plantings.

      Under or over-watering can be an issue.

      Planting too deep, or mulching too heavily can cause symptoms like you describe.

      As you can see there are so many possibilities, and of course, any combination of them.

      An experienced plant health care person that sees them would be the best bet for diagnosing accurately. You could also contact the nursery where you got them and ask.

      I wish I could be more helpful.

  • Norman
    2:21 PM, 3 February 2014

    I made an update to my June 21, 2013 post:

    I consulted with the nursery where I bought the plant. They said it could be a fungus and suggested I replant it (it had only been in the ground since last fall). I did that and made the amended area larger and added more mulch/ironite. I cut off the dead branches. It seems to be doing fine now.

  • Gene
    2:40 PM, 21 March 2014

    I have about 10 blue princess (and blue prince) holly bushes, that are 10 year old or more. This winter they all suffered severe burn, with 80% or more of the leaves brown (dead?). The brown leaves are predominately on the southern exposure, facing toward the street. Since they are in the front yard, I rather not have scraggly bushes. Should I take them out and replace them?

    • Roger
      10:19 PM, 21 March 2014

      In my experience I’ve not seen blue hollies recover from winter damage, especially when it’s as severe as you’re describing.

      This winter has been hard on many plants, and I suspect we’ll be busy with many replacements this spring.

  • John
    7:44 AM, 23 March 2014

    Thank you for your helpful articles!

    I have had some blue prince and princess hollies on the northern side of my home for about three years now. They’ve thrived in the partial sunlight there, but a couple of weeks ago I noticed that some of the branches and leaves have turned gray on almost every plant. Is this the sign of winter burn? It’s been a heck of a winter in Virginia–days of snow and sleet followed by days of 60+ degree temps. If it is winter burn, what should I do to mitigate the damage?

    Thanks again for sharing your expertise!

    • Roger
      10:00 AM, 23 March 2014

      Yes, that sounds like winter burn. And, of course, you’re not alone. This has has been a brutal winter on plants.

      Simply put, the ground freezes and remains frozen (especially on that north side). And this does not allow the plant to take up moisture as days warm and winds blow.

      There isn’t too much you can do to mitigate the damage. The extent of the damage is the issue. Is the damage just to the leaves, or has it extended down into the stems and branches? This will manifest itself as spring progresses and plants start to “wake up”.

      If you can, wait to see if budding occurs on or within the plant. If there’s die-back just towards the branch-ends, and budding towards the inside, you can prune back to those living points. Frankly, I have not seen blue hollies recover well after substantial winter damage.

      Good luck, and I hope this helps.

  • John
    8:29 PM, 23 March 2014


    I’ll keep an eye on them into the spring and will keep my fingers crossed that the damage is limited to the leaves. I’ll try that anti-transparent next year. Thank you again for your time and advice!

  • Daren
    3:13 PM, 2 April 2014

    have a 5ft wide by 50ft long planting area with full sun (side yard). Along backyard I have 6ft wide by 40ft long planting area. was thinking about blue hollys. I am in Zone 5 southern CT. Soil is clay like. What spacing do you recommend. Also getting prices for 3-4ft burlap Blue Girl Holy for $175-250 delivered and installed or 6-7ft burlap delivered and installed for 275-375.

    What spacing do you recommend and is this good fit and overall good price.

    • Roger
      9:45 PM, 2 April 2014

      The clay soil concerns me a bit. Make sure organic matter is added to the soil mix, and the plants are kept higher than the surrounding grade. I would also check to see that there’s a guarantee for at least 1 year.

      The price for the 3-4′ plants (installed) is fair. The price for the 6-7′ plants (installed) is excellent, presuming they’re good quality. It would be good if you could see these plants before you commit.

      I would space the blue hollies approx. 5′ center-to-center.

  • Sherri
    9:13 PM, 13 April 2014

    How rabbit resistant is Blue Holly?

    • Roger
      10:42 PM, 27 April 2014

      I have 2 lists on “rabbit resistant” plants and both mention Holly (Ilex spp.) as resistant. In other words, they’re not specifically mentioning Blue Holly, but the holly genus (in general). That would make me feel pretty good about using it. Realize, of course, that none of these “animal resistant” lists can be taken as bible. They are developed from surveys and tests, but there are always exceptions, and critter behavior often varies from location to location.

  • Syndee
    2:15 PM, 11 May 2014

    Hi Roger!

    Okay I see all of your notes on Blue Holly and I think I know the answer…I want to cry. My Blue Holly’s are 10 years old…the winter has made 90% of the leaves fall off..however the stems are really green…right now it looks like a row of Dr. Seuss bushes…do you think I should wait or just plan the funeral?

    • Roger
      6:15 PM, 11 May 2014

      I’m sorry to hear about your winter damaged hollies. Sooo many plants were damaged this winter – throughout the country!

      It’s just about the middle of May. I would say that if you’re not seeing new bud growth in the next few weeks, you might want to think of replacements.

  • Julie
    7:29 AM, 17 May 2014

    Hi Roger- I would like to plant a holly tree in front of my house, probably blue. I have another area where I can plant a male that is about 25 feet away. I live 35 minutes north of Boston. The area where I want to plant the tree gets afternoon sun from 1-2 pm on. Do you think this would be enough sun for this plant to survive?

    • Roger
      10:20 AM, 26 May 2014

      One hour of sun does not seem to be enough for the blue holly to do well. It’s smart you’re taking the time & care to pick the right plant and “site it” correctly.

  • jen
    9:57 PM, 26 May 2014

    I am looking for a fast growing evergreen shrub for a border between two homes (and also a wind break). These will be replacing several trees the previous owner had planted because they are underneath power lines. I live in zone 5. I have had several types of hollys in the past and love them, but is the blue variety a fast grower? I need something that is going to grow a few feet a year.
    Thank you

    • Roger
      9:15 PM, 4 July 2014

      In zone 5, and out in the open as a hedge, I’d be cautious using a holly. I’d be concerned about hardiness and winter damage.

      If you could use a deciduous plant there are many viburnums to choose from. And another great deciduous plant for a fast growing (and flowering) hedge is Hydrangea ‘Limelight’.

      Otherwise, a tough, fast growing evergreen (non-broadleaf, non-flowering) would be Juniper ‘Keteleeri’.

  • Joanne
    8:38 PM, 18 August 2014

    I just bought a blue Prince and Princess Holly. They will get mainly full sun in zone 5. More of a protected area where they are going. I want them to get tall enough to block a neighbors view into our yard. Can you tell me how fast and how tall these will get? If not fast enough I will get something else to put there. Thanks

    • Roger
      11:27 PM, 24 November 2014

      The blue hollies are considered slow growers. They will mature to 8′ or so given the time and ideal conditions. I have mixed success with the blue hollies, and that’s why I mentioned “ideal conditions”. My experience tells me they’re quite particular of where they’re planted (like many broadleaf evergreens). Beyond correct exposure I believe favorable soil characteristics are critical. Rich, organic and well-drained.

      Have you considered Ilex pendunculosa? The common name is Longstalk Holly. It grows relatively quickly, very hardy, and more adaptive to site conditions.

  • Mike Dyer
    7:32 AM, 5 September 2014

    what are the ‘siting requirements’ for a Blue Prince to effectively pollinate a Blue Princess plant? specifically, is there an optimal distance and does the ‘male’ plant have to have a ‘line’ to the female plant?
    thank you

    • Roger
      10:04 AM, 30 November 2014

      What a great question. But unfortunately I haven’t been able to find absolute information on ‘siting requirements’ for blue hollies as it pertains to pollination.

      I know that in terms of holly cross-pollination it does not have to necessarily involve hollies of the same variety.

      For me, when I’m siting a holly on a project and berry production is important, I include the male counterpart as close as possible – if not right within the grouping, then no more than 50 to 75′.

  • Bill
    9:32 AM, 6 October 2014

    Hi, We are thinking about planting a formal hedge of Blue Princess and Blue Prince holly along the west side of our home. We live in upstate New York in Zone 5B. They would receive full sun in the afternoon. Do you think this variety would work? Are there any holly varieties that are more cold tolerant than the Blue Princess/Prince?

    Also, I found an English website that lets one calculate the spacing for Blue Princess/Prince holly hedges. Do you think 2 1/4 feet apart is too close if we want the hedge to grow to 6 feet high? The tag on the Blue Princess holly I saw at a local nursery stated that they grow 10 feet wide. However, from what I have read online, this variety is a slow grower (6″ inches per year).

    • Roger
      1:05 PM, 6 October 2014

      I think the Blue Prince and Princess are an excellent choice.

      Although they are hardy to zone 4, I’m a little concerned about planting them during the fall. I’d prefer to plant in the spring and give the plants a chance to root well before the winter. Also, it would be a good practice to spray them each fall with an anti-desiccant to help prevent winter damage. That western exposure will increase the chance of winter-burn. You could also use an old-fashioned barrier like burlap.

      For the spacing, 2.25′ does seem too close. Typically we’ll space them 4′ center-to-center. You might go a little closer if the new plants are small, but not too much closer.

  • Ronda
    9:56 AM, 23 March 2015

    We are designing a patio that needs a privacy hedge from heavy traffic noise and also heavily used driveway (our driveway is shared with a business). We have heard that needlepoint holly could be effectively used as a hedge and would appreciate your advice on this selection. We would like to maintain the hedge in the 4-6 foot tall by 2 foot wide size range. It will be sited in full sun in Virginia zone 7. Thanks in advance for your advice.

    • Roger
      10:33 AM, 23 March 2015

      I have not used Needlepoint Holly (Ilex cornuta ‘Needlepoint’), but did some quick research.

      It is hardy in zone 7,8 and 9 — so you’re on the north end of its hardiness. And that’s fine.

      The problem I see is with the mature size of the plant. Its width can be much more than 2′. And although it does handle heavy pruning well, I think the long-term results will be disappointing for you.

      There are very few plants that will give you the height and narrow width you’re looking for. One possibility would be Skyrocket Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum ‘Skyrocket’). It will get tall, but stay relatively narrow. Skyrocket Juniper is hardy in zones 3 to 7.

      The other strategy to consider would be a decorative screen/fence. If done well it could be a beautiful design element. You could grow some delicate vine on it (not a heavy, aggressive climber). You could even treat it as a wall in the garden and hang various fixtures, etc. on it. You could plant “seasonally” at the base in the remaining, narrow space. You’ll eliminate the “challenging” task of growing something tall and narrow in that limited space — and maintaining it. A decorative screen/fence would also make an effective sound barrier.

      One thing to possibly consider with a screen/fence is building code in your area. If you’re concerned about that, I’d check with the building/zoning dept. in town.

      Have you ever looked on for ideas? If the decorative screen/fence is a possibility, search on Houzz for all kinds of ideas.

  • Hal garner
    4:04 PM, 26 March 2015

    I planted a male and female combined plant on the east side of my house and it has not grown in two years. I was told it needs to be planted on the north or west side! Any truth to that?

    • Roger
      9:05 AM, 27 March 2015

      I got your other comment about the blue holly being both male and female. As far as I know the blue hollies are “dioecious,” which means having both male & female plants.

      Still, that doesn’t explain why your plant has not been growing. And frankly, the east side should be ideal for the plant.

      It could be a number of different things. If it was originally a “container-plant” (came in a pot), it could be root-bound.

      In short, my instinct would be to re-dig the plant and examine the rootball and root growth (or lack of). If it is root-bound, you could “tease” the outer roots a bit or even cut them a bit with a knife to stimulate outward root growth.

      At the same time check the soil quality and the depth you planted the holly. The soil should be rich in organics and well-drained. Check to see that it’s not too deep in the ground, but slightly above the existing grade (1-2″).

      Realize that without seeing the plant and its environment I can’t be too sure what the problem is. A plant health care specialist in your area would do that for you.

  • Cyndy S.
    8:15 PM, 19 April 2015

    I have 6 blue princess hollies on the north side of the house (zone 5) that were planted 3 yrs ago. They have a lot of thin spindly branches in the center going every which way. They really have no shape to them. They have many small flower pods about to open. Should I cut these branches out or just the ones shooting across to the opposite side of bush. I did fertilize with holly tone the first week of march so they are looking much better after two bad winters.

    • Roger
      11:43 PM, 19 April 2015

      I’m not sure what you’re thinking about cutting, but I’m inclined to just suggest leaving the plants. It sounds like they’re finally starting to come around. The north side may have slowed their development somewhat (shady?)

      Perhaps you’re wondering about crossing and maybe touching branches…that they should be pruned. Pruning practices like that are more for developing trees — not so much for shrubs.

      I hope this answers your question.

  • Marcy
    5:20 PM, 1 May 2015

    I would like to plant blue hollies all along the fence in the backyard to form a hedge. A long stretch of fence has a southern exposure and another stretch is a western exposure. I live in central NJ which is I think zone 6. This area tends to be wet with clay soil. I had skip laurels planted here. I believe they were originally planted too deep with too much mulch on top. They were replanted but that probably traumatized them. Then we had two very cold winters. As I have already lost a small fortune on these plants, I’m trying to find the right solution. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

    • Roger
      9:47 AM, 2 May 2015

      The conditions are a challenge for the type of plant and look you’re after. In short, a broadleaf evergreen in clay, wet soil with open exposures as you describe is difficult (if not impossible).

      As a border you might consider different Arborvitae varieties or Juniper varieties. For a leafed evergreen, perhaps Inkberry (Ilex glabra). It does prefer an acid soil (i.e. pH 4.0 to 6.5), and clay soils can lean alkaline. I’d check the pH. Plus, in terms of leafed evergreens, you’ll always have that challenge of winter exposure.

      Have you considered a deciduous shrub? Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum), Red Osier and Tartarian Dogwoods would work too (Cornus sericea and Cornus alba). These dogwoods are shrubs… not trees.

  • Marcy
    10:49 AM, 2 May 2015

    Could you tell me which arborvitae or juniper varieties might work in this situation? Also I was looking at a Steeds and a Schwoebel holly. Any thioughts on those varieties?

    • Roger
      1:36 PM, 2 May 2015

      For arborvitae, either ‘Elegantisima’ or ‘Wintergreen’. For juniper, ‘Mint Julep’ would work. Another nice juniper is ‘Torulosa’. But with Torulosa you’ll want to tip-prune the branch ends (each year) to encourage fullness. When you do this, this plant gets full with a very interesting texture.

      I would stay away from Steeds and Schwoebel. They’ll have a hard time dealing with the exposure and winters.

  • Michele
    11:14 AM, 2 May 2015

    I’d be grateful if you could tell me the difference between a blue princess holly and a blue maid. I’m trying to decide which type would be better for us. Do you know the mature height for each one? Thank you!

    • Roger
      1:14 PM, 2 May 2015

      ‘Blue Maid’ and ‘Blue Princess’ are fairly similar. By definition, Blue Maid should get more pyramidal in form, whereas Blue Princess is more rounded. I don’t doubt that, but I’ve yet to really see that clear a difference between the two. In terms of mature height they are about equal. I’ve never seen either over 10′.

      And although both are said to be among the hardiest of the blue hollies, some would argue Blue Princess is the hardier. And again, I’ve yet to see the difference.

      Also, Blue Princess is supposed to get more berries than Blue Maid. I’d agree with that (from my experience).

  • Marcy
    5:03 PM, 2 May 2015

    This is SO helpful!!! Thanks!!

  • Cyndy S.
    7:03 PM, 2 May 2015

    I checked with a reputable nursery in Beavercreek, Ohio and the gentleman informed me that I need to add a soil acidifier since our soil in my area is high in alkaline. He feels this should improve the look of my Berri-Magic Royalty Holly combination.

    • Roger
      8:14 PM, 2 May 2015

      That makes sense as the hollies require acidic soil soil which allow them to absorb important nutrients in the soil.

      It might be a good idea for you to pick up a soil pH testing kit. They’re very inexpensive and easy to find in garden center/nurseries. You could test the current pH level now, and then again in 6 months or 1 year. It really is important to get it right.

  • Fred B
    1:47 PM, 17 May 2015

    Rodger, By mistake we planted a Blue Maid Holly this spring expecting it to be a “bush” rather than a tall plant. Can we trim yearly to keep this short and bush like?

    • Roger
      10:40 PM, 17 May 2015

      The Blue Maid could be contained to a certain extent with yearly pruning. I would think a 6′ height is realistic. And to keep it in a mounded shrub-form should not be a problem.

  • Brenda
    12:23 PM, 21 May 2015

    Hi Roger, I live in a two story Colonial with a previous formal landscaping, live in PGH,pa. Zone 5-6. Blue girl / boy or blue princess/ boy hedges flanking the front door. Last year, I lost all of my winter gem boxwood border hedges and 3 blue hollies hedge on the one side. I am not going to replace the box woods. However I need a suggestion for plant material to replace my Blue holly hedge. In addition, one of the blue hollies on the opposing side suffered 25% winter damage and they are relatively mature, a little over 4 feet. I will probably have to eventually replace those also given the damage and size. The bottom edge of my windows start at 3 ft.
    I want to focus on my empty bed where I lost my hedge. It is 12 feet in width by 15 feet depth. Even though it is north east facing it receives early morning sun only as the area closest to the window relieves the most shade due to the House blocking some sun. I do think I initially planted them too close
    to the window. Can you recommend an evergreen hedge for this bed? I was considering green velvet boxwood or inkberry holly. I prefer boxwood, I read that green velvet is hardier, but am concerned with the amount of light, but I can pull them forward as that part of the bed receives more light. I’m pretty gun shy at this point, given the amount of mature shrubbery lost. Landscapers have recommended deciduous plants, but that will leave a large barren area in the winter. YUK!

  • Brenda
    12:33 PM, 21 May 2015

    Hi Roger, sorry, I forgot to add that I am not opposed to trying the blue hollies again and pulling them forward. However, after reading your expert advise throughout this forum, I’m not quite sure if 12 foot width is wide enough to accommodate 3 hedges, given you recommend 4 foot centers. Also, the windows are tall and low. Most landscapers recommend a mature height that doesn’t obstruct windows, however, given the scale (two story house) finding plant material that doesn’t exceed 3feet is not really practical. Thanks, Brenda

    • Roger
      12:05 AM, 26 May 2015

      We’re having to rethink the use of many broadleaf evergreens for our landscapes due to the problems with winter damage.

      Here are two possibilities you might consider, and they work very well together in composition.

      Azalea ‘Poukenense” is what could be called a semi-deciduous plant, i.e. it will often lose a percentage of its leaves in winter. But in the spring, after beautiful pinkish/lavender flowers, new leaves come out. It will get 3-4′ high w/o a problem, and typically grows wider than tall (e.g. 6′).

      Plum Yew is another plant we’re using more and more. It is not to be confused with the Taxus genus yew plant (although they do look similar). Again, we’re having so many problems with boxwood, that this is one of the plants I’m using in its place.

  • Brenda
    12:26 PM, 8 June 2015

    Thank you Roger! I will definitely take a look at both shrubs! I even have thought about using endless summer as the foundation plant due to part shade and bordering with Chicagoland boxwood hedge. They are suppose to be hardy to zone 4. We live in “zone 6”, but I won’t plant anything except zone 4-5 given our nasty winters. Or should I completely give up on boxwood in general? Since I live in a colonial home I do like some formality with a mixture of informal elements.

  • melissa Taylor
    1:51 PM, 15 June 2015

    Colonial brick house with brick path in fron. (Live on Eastern shore of MD) Want to plant blue hollys ion either side of front door, which will grow to about 6/7 feet…is climate ok for that? Also, have some boxwood which needs re-planting to accommodate these hollies…do boxwood move safely?? The light on the hollies will be some morning and some afternoon sun, but not ALL day6….this that OK? Thanks so much…have enjoyed reading your website.

    • Roger
      10:31 PM, 21 June 2015

      It appears as though you’re in plant zone 7.

      As I mention in the article, blue hollies are typically “happier” in the colder zones. Have you seen any blue hollies (doing well) in your area?

      I’m thinking you should be OK, but I’d love to hear that you’ve seen healthy blue hollies around where you live.

      Yes, boxwood generally move very well. They typically have very fibrous root systems.

      If you have the opportunity to wait until spring to move the boxwood and plant the blue holly, I would wait. If not, can you wait until early fall (mid Sept.)?

  • melissa Taylor
    2:19 PM, 15 June 2015

    Thank you for all the comments I have read regarding blue hollies. A yard fellow I employ says the old hollies on either side of my front door should be replaced with something hardy like blue hollies…I have read all the comments on your website and agree, however I am worried about the amount of sun..the house faces northeast, the morning sun seems a bit shaded, and te after noon sun would be a bit dappled – the soil will need help as I believe it is a bit clayey, in this part of Maryland (Eastern
    Shore….Can you advise if this is an okay plan? Also I should move a few boxwoods in that same front area….will box put up with being moved?

    Thank you so much….am so glad I discovered you!! Melissa Taylor

  • Claudine
    8:05 PM, 15 July 2015

    We have quite a few Blue Maid Holly in our front bed that were planted many years ago by the previous owners. They are doing very well. We would like to add a few more to tie in another bed. I’m having some trouble finding Blue Maid in our area but have called around and located Blue Girl. I’m trying to figure out what the main difference is between the two varieties. Can you give me some insight into this?
    (We are in NE Ohio and the beds are part sun/part shade).


    • Roger
      9:19 PM, 15 July 2015

      Although I use several references for plant information, books by Michael A. Dirr are usually what I ultimately depend on.

      Mr. Dirr does not feel there’s much difference between Blue Maid and Blue Girl. Their mature size and growth habit are similar. He says they’re both very hardy, but says comparatively Blue Girl may be slightly more hardy.

      I think you’re fine going with Blue Girl if that’s what’s available.

  • Allin
    8:56 AM, 31 July 2015

    Had blue holly planted by professional landscaper last year. One of them died almost immediately and has been replaced. I see increasing number of dead leaves on another. What disease/condition might produce this result? I know asking hard question when you can’t see the plant, but wondered if there is anything I can do for distressed plant.

    • Roger
      4:12 PM, 1 August 2015

      You’re right in that I can’t begin to say why the hollies declined w/o being on the property and seeing the plants and “all” the site conditions. The list of possibilities is endless.

      Were the original plants weak and poor nursery stock to begin with? Are the site conditions not supportive of this plant type? Is the soil too heavy, kept too wet? Is the area and grade low where they’re planted? Etc.

      And then there are the particular diseases and/or insects that could exist. And those problems are often influenced by poor or unsupportive site conditions (like mentioned above).

      If you can’t get help locally diagnosing the problem, perhaps you can send a sample of the struggling plant to your state’s agricultural extension office. I do this when I can’t positively ID a plant problem on a property.

  • Teresita
    1:04 PM, 6 August 2015

    Hi Roger,

    I’m hoping you can help me. I have a Blue Maid holly bush, but when I bought it, there were no Blue Stallions available. I naively thought that the distributor would carry the same species again the following year. Neither that garden center nor any others in my hometown seem to carry them. I’ve seen Blue Prince and China Boy, but not a Stallion to be found. So for the last three years I’ve been unable to have berries on my lovely holly. I also am unable to find a supplier online to get one. I’m trying to find if there is a cross pollinator that might work or if you know a nursery in Canada where I can order one online?

    Many Thanks!

    • Roger
      10:36 AM, 7 August 2015

      Here’s an informative article on blue holly pollination.

      In short, any male blue holly can pollinate the Blue Maid. But the key is timing, i.e. both the male and female varieties must be in flower at the same time. I’m sorry to say I don’t have that exact information for you.

      Perhaps you could try this: next season when the Blue Maid is in flower, visit local nurseries and try to find a male variety that is also flowering at that time.

  • John
    7:53 PM, 26 September 2015

    I have eight Blue Princess holly bushes planted professionally in full sun in Washington, DC. It is October and the plants are beginning to flower and show new growth. Any idea what is causing this? Is it too late to shape them again?

    Oh, and the plants flowered in the spring, and had berries, most of which are now gone.

    • Roger
      9:26 AM, 28 September 2015

      Hard to say exactly why the hollies are flowering and pushing new growth.

      Sometimes pruning a plant late in the season will stimulate new growth. Fertilizing can cause this too, but the type/form of fertilizer and when it was applied comes into play.

      Also, I have seen plants just randomly flower (outside their normal flowering time).

      I don’t think I’d prune them this close to fall. I would recommend you winter protect them with an anti-transpirant like Wilt-Pruf. You could also use the traditional method of winter protection by wrapping or surrounding them with burlap.

  • Glenda
    12:39 PM, 1 October 2015

    Thanks so much for the info. Your advice probably saved the Blue Princess hollies I was about to plant in very wet soil. They will now be planted in better conditions.

    • Roger
      12:02 PM, 4 October 2015

      I’m so glad the article helped.

      So often we just consider other plant requirements like exposure and hardiness zones, but neglect the soil type and moisture conditions they prefer.

      Kudos to you for being so thorough with your planning.

  • catherine
    9:07 PM, 9 November 2015

    Hey Roger,

    I am looking for a hardy evergreen shrub plant to grow as a hedge in an almost semi-arid part of Martha’s Vineyard: it is close to the ocean (1 mile) on a peninsula that has very sandy soil (Katama in Edgartown). I expect to plant it on the edge of a dirt road with little traffic (dead end) and it will have some shade with sun. I was thinking that the Nellie Steven’s holly might be a good choice– but worry it may grow too fast and big. I hope to keep the hedge about 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Can you suggest what evergreen shrubs may be good in this kind of environment. It is zone 7– but prefer to a zone 6, at minimum, tolerance plant. We will use a lot of good soil for planting– but it is very sandy under ground.

    • Roger
      12:39 PM, 10 November 2015

      When you start to analyze the requirements for the plant, which is the right way for proper plant selection, you begin to realize how your choices can be really limited. And this, I’m afraid, is the case here.

      You have your size requirement, but then there’s also the “non-negotiable” cultural requirements, such as: hardiness (plant zone), evergreen, exposure: some sun & shade, sandy soil, some salt tolerance. And I would think deer resistant too. I googled your area for deer population and it seems it could be an issue.

      I know this isn’t going to shock you, but there aren’t many choices. I only have two suggestions. For an evergreen you might consider Ilex glabra, and specifically variety ‘Compacta’. Although many descriptions talk about its tolerance to wet sites, it will also tolerate dry once established. It can get slightly wider than you wish, but can be controlled by pruning.

      If you were willing to use a deciduous plant, I would recommend Viburnum dentatum ‘Blue Muffin’. Its branching is rather dense and would give some cover/screening in the winter. Other than being deciduous it does “tick all the boxes” with regard to the other requirements.

      I hope this helps. It could be that a “plants-person” from that area could be aware of another plant with these requirements (from their experience).

  • jim ashcraft
    4:27 AM, 19 December 2015

    I like Blue Maid Hollies and I,m putting them in front of all my apartments, but can I keep them about 5-6ft high without a problem? I plan to plant them 3to31/2 ft. apart will this work? Where is the best place to buy them with the best price? I need about 20 of them? What size do recommend that I purchase such 2 or 3 gals. Are they fast growing. Any help would be appreciated.


    • Roger
      10:15 PM, 26 December 2015

      It’s certainly possible to keep the hollies 5-6′ high with regimented pruning/trimming.

      If you work with 3 gal. plants, them 3.5′ center-to-center spacing should be fine. Of course I’m assuming you’ll grow them as a hedge or in groupings (where they can grow together).

      As to where to purchase them, I’d try local nurseries in your area. Perhaps the nursery will offer a quantity price if you need quite a few.

      From my experience I would not consider blue holly a fast grower.

      And as I mention in the article, avoid heavy ground that does not drain well.

  • Maxx Foi
    5:27 PM, 9 January 2016

    I am buying Castle Wall & Castle Blue Hollies off Amazon from ProvenWinner retailer Hirt’s Gardens.
    I will transplant to 6″ containers from 2-4″ pots in amended soil until sometime in spring. Then will replant the female alone and a bunch of males nearby surrounding my new Royal Raindrops Clump Crabapple.
    MY QUESTION: how hardy & tough are these plants R E A L L Y here in Chicago suburbs? Any feedback from this area? Advise.

    • Roger
      11:08 PM, 11 January 2016

      Unfortunately I don’t have experience with this category of blue hollies. They sound interesting though — growing more columnar (narrow, but tall) than the other blue hollies.

      I did not see it in the nurseries here (northeast) this past year (2015). I’ll be looking for them this spring.

      From what I’ve read they do question the hardiness in zone 5, which I believe is your zone in and around Chicago. They strongly recommend protecting the plant during the winter from wind and sun (e.g. wrap in burlap and/or spray with anti-transpirant).

  • doug
    11:47 AM, 19 January 2016

    Roger: I purchased a blue holly in a 5 gallon bucket about a week ago and wasn’t able to get it planted this weekend. it is now 15 degrees overnight and in the mid 20s during the day. the root ball is frozen. it probably won’t warm up for a week. what should I do right now? move it to the shed? try to insulate it a bit with some larger pots? water it? I plan to plant it as soon as the earth warms a bit and them give it a nice blanket of mulch and wrapping in burlap. I am in Zone 7,Washington, DC. thanks!!!

    • Roger
      11:49 PM, 19 January 2016

      It’s great you have the concern for the plant because it is currently in a challenging condition.

      First thing is the exposed rootball. Above ground and un-insulated it’s subject to fluctuating temperatures (even night and day temps differences). When it’s planted this is less likely to happen.

      Second is the exposure to winter sun and wind (leaves & branches). This causes the leaves to give off moisture, and the frozen root system can not, in turn, supply that moisture.

      Therefore, I’d put the plant in the shed for now. It will be protected from sun & wind, and the root ball temperature will not fluctuate. When you can get it planted, do so. Then wrap the plant and mulch as you described.

  • jim ashcraft
    6:16 AM, 13 March 2016

    Hello I live in zone 6 and have been told by my nursery that in front of my apartments I need to plant blue maid hollies and I agree I plan to plant them 3ft from the porch about 4ft after that I wan them to grow together and keep them about 4 to 5ft tall does this sound like a plan>


    • Roger
      12:09 PM, 13 March 2016

      You should be OK. But I would try for at least 4′ from the building. And this measurement is from the “center of the plant” to the building.

      Then, the distance from each plant to the next should also be 4′ (center-to-center).

      Realize this plant wants to get wider and taller than you’re allowing. But with diligent pruning you should get a reasonable life span for the plant in that situation.

      Presumably you’ll allow them to grow together as a hedge. And this is good because then you’ll just concentrate your pruning on the sides (especially the back) and top.

  • Louise Gawrys
    5:13 PM, 4 May 2016

    Last year I bought a small blue princess holly and this yearit looks the same as when I bought it. Is there special care. fertilizer or what can I do to improve it? Are they slow growers? Any help would be appreciated.

    Thank you,
    Louise Gawrys

    • Roger
      12:02 PM, 7 May 2016

      I too have had blue hollies that “don’t do much”. And just like yours, they’ll seem healthy but aren’t doing anything.

      First off, I’d say give it a chance to establish itself. But also, did it come in a container/pot? If so, did you notice the roots collected on the outside of the root-ball when you took the pot off? I ask because it’s possible it could be “root bound”. In most cases when we plant container-grown plants, we “tease” the outside roots with our fingers a bit before planting.

      From my experience I would not classify the blue hollies as fast growers. In fact I’d call them more slow to moderate growers. Blue hollies that are growing well (again, in my experience and here in the northeast) will produce 4 to 6″ of growth per year. And, of course, these are well-established plants.

      Be careful not to over-water and if you’d like you could feed with an organic fertilizer such as Espoma Plant-tone.

  • Donna G
    8:59 AM, 18 May 2016

    Hi Jim, our townhouse has a large utility box in a prominent spot in the front yard, just beyond the main bed to the left of the sidewalk. I’d like to plant one or more dense evergreen shrubs at the back of the bed to screen the box. Rhododendron and azalea both do well; we have mountain laurel nearby that suffers from terrible black spot.

    We are in zone 6, and the site receives sun in the morning followed by dappled light the rest of the day. Soil is acidic, not sure about drainage, but it can be amended before planting.

    Ideally I’d like something that will grow to 3 feet high and wide within 3-5 years and possibly to 4-6 ft at maturity. Our condo manager has suggested inkberry, but if I am correct in identifying the many shrubs that border parking lots in our area, these but if I am correct in identifying the many shrubs that border parking lots in our area, they are very slow growing and look sparse even after several years.

    Would a blue holly do well in this situation? We have a blueprints in the yard but no female hollies at this time. One consideration is whether blue holly is invasive. I’ve heard that birds eat the berries and just spread them to the woods where the hollies then become established. If the ilex glabra is our best bet what can we do to ensure robust growth? Should we consider azalea or rhododendron?

    Thanks for any suggestions!

    • Roger
      10:00 AM, 20 May 2016

      Most Inkberry do get leggy, particularly towards the bottom. Variety ‘Compacta’ is said to be the better at staying full, but they too can get leggy. In my experience proper pruning plays a major role in reducing the legginess. But to depend on pruning (and proper pruning at that!) can be challenging — and very hard to delegate.

      You mention azalea and rhodos do well. Certainly those are possibilities. PJM Rhododendron is a plant to consider. Pruning is important here too to keep the plant full (for screening purposes). And be conscious of the soil drainage. Like most broadleaf plants, they don’t like poorly drained soil. This is where Inkberry is the better plant.

      Blue hollies can also be particular about soil type. To my knowledge, and in my area, they are not invasive.

  • Dave
    2:53 PM, 21 May 2016

    Hi Roger

    I am trying to decide on a plant to use for screening around a horse paddock, originally was considering privet but now looking for an evergreen. We are in zone 7. some area is shady and some is sunny. trying to use one plant all the way around

  • Aileen
    12:28 PM, 4 June 2016

    Is there a blue Hollie that 3-4 feet.

    • Roger
      10:25 PM, 4 June 2016

      The blue hollies will eventually get larger than 3-4′. Annual pruning can keep their size in check for a while, but the plant will want to, and should be able to get larger in the long-term.

  • Adam
    9:57 PM, 30 June 2016

    Hi Roger:

    I recently moved into a new house that has many small blue hollies planted. I noticed they’ve been pruned early on to grow into a mounded shape (there is no clear leader). Any idea on how large these will grow over the long term and if they will grow upright or outwards?

    • Roger
      10:14 AM, 10 July 2016

      I would anticipate keeping a mature holly approximately 6′ high and 6’wide. Yes, it would get larger if allowed to, but you’ll be selectively pruning it year to year.

      The natural shape is slightly pyramidal to rounded. In the landscape I mostly see rounded forms.

  • Melissa
    2:50 PM, 11 September 2016

    Hi Roger,
    I’m working on some container gardens for my deck. I was considering a “Blue Boy” holly, but can’t find much in regard to it’s long term success in large pots. I already have several other evergreens potted and have burlap systems for winter. Any thoughts?

    Melissa in MD

    • Roger
      4:27 PM, 11 September 2016

      I looked up Maryland on the plant zone map and zone 7 seems to be the more prevalent one.

      I’m in zone 6 and would not chance blue holly in a planter. Even though you’re protecting the upper plant from wind and sun with burlap, the planter is above ground and is subject to the freeze/thaw cycles of the winter months. I just think there’s a good chance the blue holly will be damaged.

  • Norman
    4:49 PM, 11 September 2016

    I wanted to update my comment about Princess and Maid hollys from a couple of years ago (I don’t see it on the web page). I finally got some acid fertilizer sticks and placed 4 around each bush. That seems to fix all of the problems. It appears I will need to apply them twice a year.

    • Roger
      11:27 PM, 15 September 2016

      I didn’t check, but your comment from a couple of years ago should still be among this post’s comments. You’ll have to go back in the list of comments to find it. You can do that by going to the bottom of this page’s comments, and see where it says “Leave a Reply”. Right above that is a link that says “Older Comments”. Click that and continue to do the same until you get far enough back in the comment archives to find yours. Do you remember the approximate date? The comments are dated.

      Re your fertilizer spikes: I’m glad they improved your hollies for you. Evidently something was lacking in your soil’s nutrient content that the spikes are providing. Your schedule of using them twice/year sounds heavy. You could always get a soil test to see exactly where nutrient levels are. Maybe try using them in the spring and observe the plants through the season. If they stay nice and green and healthy skip the fall feeding and feed again the following spring.

  • Stephen
    6:25 PM, 12 September 2016

    I live in Raleigh, NC (zone 7b) and my house faces west. I would like to plant blue holly along the walkway but I’m afraid the intense sun (1pm – 7pm) will roast them. Will they be okay?

    • Roger
      9:05 PM, 12 September 2016

      I’m in zone 6 and the blue hollies, when sited correctly, do pretty well. From what I’ve read, and in particular the information from Michael Dirr in his book “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants,” blue hollies generally do not do well in the heat of Zone 7b – 9. If they’re planted in the shade in well-drained soil, then the outcome might be better — but still not as good as blue hollies grown in the cooler, northern zones.

  • Robin
    10:06 AM, 13 September 2016

    Hi Roger: I came across your forum as we are considering a blue holly of some sort to provide an evergreen hedge as well as a bit of privacy. I was attracted to the idea of blue hollies as they would be planted between a row of Green Giants and Emerald Greens along our aluminum fence, and would break up the monotony with shape, texture and color. Ideally, we would like one that can stay about 5-6 ft at maturity. They would be planted full sun, soil can get a bit damp in some places at times, and we are in NJ between zone 6b/7a. How far apart should they be planted, as well as how far apart from the fence? Should they be planted on a mulch bed, and should the existing grass be entirely removed with a tiller or should the grass be kept? Which would be a better choice- Blue Maid or the Blue Princess? Thank you!

    • Roger
      8:59 AM, 14 September 2016

      You would want to remove all the grass from the planting area and create a planting bed. I would also add a good quality top soil to the bed to raise it slightly. Blue hollies do not like wet conditions and raising the planting area will help get the plants out of that threat. These wet conditions vary tremendously, so I really can’t guide you accurately without being there on-site.

      Both Blue Maid and Blue Princess are considered very hardy. Blue Princess might have a slight edge on hardiness.

      If the hollies do well — and that’s what we want 🙂 — you’ll have to work at keeping them 5-6 ft. But it’s certainly doable with diligent pruning.

      I would plant them 4′ from the fence and space them 4′ from each other. These measurements are from the “center of the plant”. If you’re able to or wish to go a bit further (e.g. 5′) that would work too.

  • Robilee
    10:53 AM, 29 September 2016

    Hi Roger! So glad to find your expertise on hollies!

    I bought & planted a Blue Princess holly from our local garden center; alas: they were all out of Blue Prince shrubs. While searching for a mate at other garden centers, I found a small “Royal Duet” Holly — (Ilex x meserveae ‘Blue Princess’ & ‘Blue Prince’). In theory, this is a combination plant that is supposed to be self-pollinating; but my Blue Princess is covered in berries…and the Royal Duet has no berries at all (perhaps because it’s too young?). Do you think the Royal Duet will serve as a male pollinator to the Blue Princess? I’ve read both that the Royal Duet is a hybrid plant (raising my concerns about pollinating the Blue Princess) and also that it’s a planting of both Blue Princess and Blue Prince in a single pot. There ARE two plants in the Royal Duet pot (raising my hopes!). I hate to wait an entire year to find out if I’ve found a mate for my Blue Princess. Do you know if Royal Duet can pollinate Blue Princess?

    • Roger
      8:17 AM, 3 October 2016

      I’m not familiar with Royal Duet, but apparently it is exactly as you say: a ‘Blue Princess’ and ‘Blue Prince’ in one pot. What will they think of next?! 🙂

      So the Blue Prince (in that dual planting) should pollinate its Blue Princess companions that are within a reasonable distance from one another.

      You probably just need to be patient for the Blue Princess next to the Blue Prince in the Royal Duet “couple” to berry.

  • Aldo Montana
    11:52 AM, 27 December 2016

    Dear Roger ,
    I recently bought a Blue Maid Holly in a 3-gallon container . It’s very healthy and has lots of berries. I’d like to know if I could plant it in a large tub in a spot near the house where it would get the afternoon sun for at least 4 hours per day. We live in upstate NY (LaGrange/Poughkeepsie). And do you recommend I use transpiration and/or protect it with burlap during severe cold or snowstorms? Thanks for your help!
    Aldo Montana

    • Roger
      12:15 PM, 28 December 2016

      I would not recommend you plant the Blue Maid Holly in a planter (above ground), no matter how large the planter may be. It simply will not tolerate the exposure and fluctuating temperatures — even with using an anti-transpirant or wrapping with burlap.

      There are evergreens that can tolerate “year-round” life in a container in a plant zone like upstate NY, but not broadleaf evergreens like holly varieties. A knowledgeable person in a local garden center should have some suggestions for you.

      The Blue Maid you have should be planted in-ground — ideally where it does not get afternoon sun (e.g. east side). And in the ground I would still protect it with either an anti-transpirant or wrap in burlap.

  • Betty
    4:22 PM, 28 December 2016

    Dear Roger,
    I received a Blue Holly, llex Xmeserveae as a Christmas gift and would love to plant it in my yard. I do not have a “green thumb” whatsoever and would like your advice on when/where I should plant it outside. I live in southern Indiana across the river from Louisville, KY. I would like to plant it at the south corner of my house in the front yard. My yard is mostly shaded from Pin Oak trees. Is it ok to plant now (Dec 28) or should I wait until later on (and hope it survives indoors).
    Thank you so very much for your help and advice.

    Have a Wonderful Day, Betty

    • Roger
      10:16 AM, 29 December 2016

      The Blue Holly you received is a hardy, nursery grown plant. As such, it should be used to the cycle of seasons and planted outside.

      The south side location is probably not a good idea. The winter sun (and wind) will cause the leaves to transpire (give off moisture) and the frozen ground will not allow the plant to replenish lost moisture.

      The eastern side of the house would be good as the afternoon sun would be blocked. Even at that I would still wrap the plant in burlap to protect it this winter.

      Make sure you water the plant well before planting. You can water it while still in the pot — then, remove the pot and plant.

      If the ground is frozen right now and you can not dig, store the plant in a shed or unheated garage (or any protected space from sun and wind). When the ground thaws a bit you can plant the holly.

  • Leslie
    1:31 PM, 7 January 2017

    I’m looking for a pollinator for a Dragon Lady holly. Does the bloom period of Blue Prince reliably overlap the bloom period of this female holly or should I look for Blue Stallion? The latter is more difficult to find.

    • Roger
      9:33 PM, 7 January 2017

      Great question — and I wish I had the answer. 🙁

      Dragon Lady blooms in May, but I’m not sure whether it’s early or later in the month. The blue hollies flower in late April and into May. You mentioned Blue Stallion, and rightfully so because of the blue holly males it has the longest period of flowering.

      You could wait till May and watch when your Dragon Lady blooms and then visit local nurseries to check out the various blue holly males and see if any are in sync.

      Wish I could be more helpful. Could you come back and comment again to let us know what you determined?

  • Zoe
    3:51 PM, 7 January 2017

    Have learned a lot from your responses regarding hollies and am wondering if you could suggest some good dwarf or very slow growing evergreens for a zone 4 (north central Indiana) with our typical soil that has to be amended to keep it from being so heavy. We have to re-landscape the eastern and north eastern side of our home and I’m wanting trees and shrubs that keep their leaves/needles all year but don’t get too terribly tall. Can you advise?
    Thanks so much.

    • Roger
      10:01 PM, 7 January 2017

      To find good plant candidates for your specific area I’ll tell you what I did this year when asked to design in an area I was not familiar with.

      And this area was only 15 miles or so from the towns I typically work in. But I did not know the soil type(s) or the plants resistant to deer grazing. And believe me when I tell you that deer grazing favorites definitely vary depending on the area. What deer will destroy in one area, they might not touch in another.

      I visited the area/neighborhood and drove around observing plant types and how they were doing. I ended up with a list of plants that were consistently doing well.

      By doing this in your area you’ll get absolute examples of plants that have adapted and are doing well. You’ll get ideas of plants you may have not considered — and you’ll see their shape and growth habit. This will give you ideas as to how they might work in your design. If possible, try to realize the exposure these plants are in so you can relate that to your eastern and NE sides of your home. Take pictures and bring them to your local garden centers and nurseries for identification. You can then look up the plants for their particulars (e.g. mature size, flowering, etc.).

  • Debbie
    7:13 AM, 24 January 2017

    Hello Roger :
    In regards to the blue holly male, ‘ Blue Stallion ‘, like Leslie I am having a hard time finding who sells them near me. You guys always have great suggestions for plants but then we consumers try to find them and it’s like pulling teeth ! I live in Collegeville, PA (near Norristown) and would like to know of a nursery/place that sells this variety.

    Thank you for your help !

    • Roger
      8:14 PM, 25 January 2017

      I feel your pain. We all get frustrated sometimes trying to locate particular plants. I frequently have to come up with substitutions on jobs because of availability.

      There are many plant varieties out there, with new ones being created all the time. And unlike manufactured goods, all these plants need to be propagated and grown for years before they’re ready for market. The nursery growers are constantly trying to anticipate market need and desire, and then initiate the “propagation/grow” cycle for those plants.

      Unfortunately, I can’t know what’s available (or will be available) in your area. When I’m searching for particular plants for my jobs, I call the nurseries and garden centers in my service area and check current availability and whether they’re able to find the plant(s) for me. Your local nurseries and garden centers have their sources — and should be willing to do some searching on your behalf.

  • Kathryn Batt
    6:52 AM, 4 April 2017


    Have you tried Primex Garden Center, Glenside, PA?

  • Pat
    6:41 PM, 29 July 2017

    I just bought what was labeled Jack and Jill blue holly (ilex x meserveae) but when I googled it I could only find one reference for it on a website that only gave the minimal info that was on the plant tag. I am beginning to wonder if I can rely on the accuracy of the label information. It is said to be 1 to 2 meters high and 1.5 meters wide. Does anyone have any experience with this holly? Also, It appears to have two plants in the pot. Does the name indicate there is a male and female plant together in the pot? If this is the case, do I plant them as they are in the pot or space them as two separate plants with a few meters between them?

    • Roger
      3:37 PM, 5 August 2017

      I’m afraid I’m not familiar with Jack and Jill blue holly. And I also was unable to find information online other than it exists and you do need the male and female for berries. It seems to me that if the two (Jack & Jill) are planted together, they are meant to stay that way. Plus, it would be detrimental to them both to disturb their intermingled root systems and try to separate them. I wish I could be more helpful.

  • Eric Morse
    11:13 AM, 6 October 2017

    What is the difference in the blue maid and blue princess varieties?

    • Roger
      9:55 AM, 8 October 2017

      Blue Maid and Blue Princess are very similar in almost every respect. I have read that Blue Princess could be considered hardier, but it’s negligible.

  • Hazel j Losli
    10:58 AM, 9 October 2017

    I have a space 36 ” wide and 12′ long in front of a picket fence. I’m thinking of planting a blue holly in the midst of peonies, sages knock out roses and iris. Is there a small type of blue holly that would work?

    • Roger
      7:53 AM, 12 October 2017

      The blue holly varieties mature too large for the limited space you have.

      You might want to take a look at ‘Dragon Lady’ Holly. It does get tall, but stays rather narrow (4-6′ wide).

  • kathy
    10:48 AM, 1 June 2018

    I live in Northern MD. My planting site would be infront of my house that gets 3 hours of sun in the morning. What will a Blue Princess Holly or China Girl do in this location? I have planted Japanese Compacta and Hoogendorn and both failed. Leaves fall off and become sparse. Don’t want to go through this again. HELP!

    • Roger
      1:18 PM, 1 June 2018

      It’s hard to diagnose a plant health/survival issue without being on-site.

      It sounds like you have an eastern exposure, i.e. with morning sun — about 3 hours you say. Generally, that exposure should be fine for hollies. And even if they might prefer a bit more light, it would result in a “slightly less” full and vigorous plant. But IMO, not enough to discourage using holly.

      There’s likely something else going on, and again, there’s just too many possibilities to list. Are there any knowledgeable plant people you could ask to visit the site and comment? Alternatively you could bring a sample (of the weak hollies) to a nursery with “knowledgeable” help and ask. But really, seeing the site is very helpful re: soil type, drainage, other aspects of exposure, etc.

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