Saving a Holly Bush - Knowledgebase Question

Mattapan, Ma
Question by RLillyO
May 8, 2010
I brought a house and the previous owners did not take care of their 3 hollys. They are all overgrown, have dead branches in the middles of them, & have no leaves or branches on the tops of them they have grown outward & no leaves on the inside branches. & some of them have no leaves on one side of the bush because of other overgrown bushes beside them. Can they be saved or do I need to pull them?

Answer from NGA
May 8, 2010


It's possible you can rehabilitate them with annual pruning, but it may take 2-3 years, depending upon the size of the hollies. An overall trimming should force new growth towards the bottom and center of each. You can use hedge trimmers and remove up to a third of the shrub in a single pruning session - unless removing that much at one time will remove all of the foliage. If so, prune a little less. The plants will need some leaves for photosynthesis. I'd prune them back now, in the spring, and see how they react. If they show lots of new growth you'll know you're on the right track and will be able to renovate the shrubs. If they just sit and sulk this summer, I'd remove them and replace them with healthy new plants. Good luck with your hollies.

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