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Why do we hate Holly Tree Berries?

Throughout my time in school at the University of Georgia and working in South Louisiana, I have learned a lot about plant selection: what works for certain areas, what is available, and what to expect years down the road.

Recently, I have had a lot of requests for a holly tree that does not produce berries.

My answer to this: Impossible.

It seems that there is an interest and a market for this plant, but it is just not available.

I contacted some of my vendors and these were their responses:

  • Northshore Plant Broker: "Yes they exist if they are males, but those are rare and the nurseries don’t know if they have males or females."

  • Lafayette Grower: "There are some male hollie cultivars but we do not grow any... Might want to consider Sweet Viburnum or Awabuki Viburnums?"

  • Florida Broker: "I’ve never found them. They would be males and in Hollies we grow, they are the crazy looking ones and we cull them out. There’s maybe 5 in a crop."

The main reason people plant holly trees is for privacy screening in tight spaces, ie: around pools, between neighbors, along fence lines, and streetscapes. They are also evergreen meaning they only shed leaves around March as the new growth comes in.

One of the reasons people hesitate with getting holly trees are the red berries. Why? Most holly trees produce berries for a very short time during the holiday season, and add a beautiful natural accent to your yard. You can even cut them to use as decor.

Another hesitation is the "staining of the pool deck or driveway." This issue can easily be solved by sweeping or blowing the berries off these areas on a weekly basis.

The one actual negative is the toxicity of the berries. It is true they can cause sickness, but the ingestion amount needed to get sick is extreme, and the awful taste should deter any person or animal from eating them. Caution is only needed for a short window during the year with babies or animals.

Overall, the performance of the holly tree is an incredible one. The small amount of berries produced in the fall shouldn’t cause you to disregard these plants.

Some types of the holly trees we love are: Dahoon, East Palatka, Eagleston, Oakleaf, and Nellie R. Stevens.

If you are interested in planting holly trees, give us a call at 504-608-4606!

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