The Q&A Archives: Cutting Back Holly Bushes

Question: I have just recently bought a house. There are three holly bushes in front that are much to tall for me to handle and I want to cut them down to a height were I can trim them without getting on a ladder. When is the best time to do this and can it be done without destroying the bushes?

Answer: You can renovate hollies but it's best to do it over a 2-3 year period. If you remove more than 1/3 of the healthy stems, branches and leaves, you'll stress the plant, making it susceptible to insect and disease problems. Plan on reducing the height gradually. The best time to prune is early spring, before new growth begins. If you prune later, you may be pruning off the flowers, which will reduce or eliminate berry development. If berries aren't a special concern, go ahead and prune now, taking off only 1/3 of the plant material.

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