• slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide

Growing American Holly (Ilex opaca)

Holiday decorations may have you contemplating growing an American holly in your landscape. Here is some information to help with your decision.

American holly is native from Massachusetts to Florida and west to Missouri and Texas and is hardy in zones 5 to 9.  The red berries persist into winter and attract songbirds while the flowers attract butterflies and honeybees.  

You’ll need at least one male for every 2 to 3 female plants for fruit production. This slow-growing holly can eventually reach 15-25 feet.

Grow American holly in evenly moist loamy acidic soils with full sun or partial shade. Select a location sheltered from drying winds.

There are more than 1,000 cultivars on the market. Select one known for producing large brightly colored fruit every year with dark green leaves and a dense growth habit.

A bit more information: American holly has been able to survive minus 20 and minus 25-degree temperatures when grown in a protected location. Buy locally grown American holly plants whenever possible. These plants tend to be regionally adapted, so you’ll have greatest success when buying plants raised in growing conditions similar to yours.

Upcoming Appearances


July 17, 2021
Shade Gardening Seminar &
Sanger House Gardens Tour

In-person event

July 18, 2021
Drought Tolerant Perennials & Shrubs for Southeastern Wisconsin
In-person event

July 20, 2021
"Ask the Plant Doctor"
Question & Answer Session 

Webinar

July 24, 2021
Lake Country Art & Garden Tour
In-person event

July 28, 2021
Rain Garden Maintenance
Webinar

Aug. 5-15, 2021
Wisconsin State Fair
In-person event

Register today! Plus, watch Melinda's past webinars ON DEMAND
for a limited time.

Learn More

Book an Appearance

Learn More

Enter to win 3 bags of Wool Pellets and reduce watering by up to 25%!

ENTER NOW