The Q&A Archives: Variegated Holly in Zone 5

Question: I just love the look of variegated English holly. However, I live in suburban Chicago (Zone 5) and my nursery tells me that they are not hardy enough to survive our winters. Is that true? (I think it probably is, I already checked your site and you recommend them through Zone 6.) If so, is there any special care (e.g., wind barriers or mulching) I can take to nurture them through a Chicago winter?

Answer: Unfortunately, I really don't think so. Although you could try wrapping it in burlap and apply a heavy mulch in late fall each year and provide an additional wind barrier, this somewhat defeats the purpose of having an evergreen. And if it wind burns or winter burns it will look very sad in your landscape. And if it dies anyway, that too would be sad. If you want to experiment and see, you can try it, but I honestly do not think you will be happy with the results and I certainly would not expect your local nursery to guarantee the plant. It is a hope against the odds, it is just not realistic. I'm sorry I can't be more encouraging.

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