Answer: Based on your description, I suspect two things are possibly happening. First, hollies may show browning foliage problems in February or so due to drying out in the winter wind and sun. Newly planted Ilex glabra shrubs would be very susceptible to this because their root systems are less extenisve; this holly in particular prefers ample moisture -- it is native to swamps. Second, hollies also suffer a number of foliar problems that could cause the leaves to turn black. Twig dieback (Phytopthora), for example, would also cause the stems to turn black. You might wish to consult with your "county extension" (University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, 831-2504) for a more specific diagnosis and suggested controls. I'm sorry I can't be more specific.
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