Holly (Ilex)

Garden Life
The holly (Ilex), also known as the winterberry, is the only surviving plant genus of the Aquifoliaceae family in the Magnoliopsida class. The European holly (Ilex aquifolium) is the only surviving Central European native representative of the holly (Ilex) genus.

Natural winter decorations

Because the berries of the female holly (Ilex verticillata) remain on the branches for a very long period of time, they represent a popular winter adornment for decorative binding work. This variety of holly is only deciduous and is mainly native to the USA and Canada. It features bright red berries. An alternative evergreen, groundcover variety is the winterberry (Galtheria procumbens). This variety also brightens up the snow with red splashes of colour. 

In order to ensure that the female shrubs produce plenty of berries, a male plant must be located close to it during the flowering period (June to August). The male variety ‘Blue Prince’ (Ilex x meserveae) is a good source of pollen.


Additional watering is only then required if the holly is placed in a pot and stands on a roofed balcony or patio, meaning that it cannot procure water itself through its roots. Always avoid waterlogging, as this can quickly lead to fouling, to which the holly is highly sensitive.

Sensitive to dryness

Sustained dryness will damage your holly plant. Water them during sustained dry periods and on frost-free days.


This evergreen and hardy plant requires almost no attention. Only very young and potted plants require protection over the winter. Otherwise, it is perfectly sufficient to supply them repeatedly with water and to protect them against strong winds. Holly plants in general do not mind being cut back.

Warning – toxic!

Both the leaves and the berries are highly toxic. In particular the bright red berries represent a risk to children and pets.

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