Holly Pruning Time - Knowledgebase Question

Birmingham, AL
Avatar for iaklee
Question by iaklee
January 18, 1998
I have a pair of "tree sized" holly bushes growing close to the house. They have not been trimmed for several years and grow over the first floor porch roof. How far down should they be cut and when. I've beed told "after Christmas when sap is not flowing" Is this correct? The lady produces many berries each year.

Answer from NGA
January 18, 1998
I am happy the lady is doing what you put her there for! Sometimes they are very mindful! I like to prune holly in the late fall and winter when it is not actively growing. I have never heard the Christmas rule, on the contrary, I like to prune my holly a few weeks before Christmas so I have those beautiful berry laden boughs to decorate my house with. I have never had a "sap problem" when pruning hollies. Feel free to remove any growth that is coming that close to your house, it could be hazardous. Try to be symmetrical in your pruning, trim equal parts from all sides. This not only looks better, but the tree is healthier and more stable when it is balanced. I try to never remove more than 1/3 of the branches at once as a general rule ofthumb. It probably wouldn't kill the tree if you did, but it does create some stress. Remember if you cut out the hollies central leader at the top of the tree, you will slow it down on it's vertical growth. This will result in "bushier" growth.

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