Holly as a Hedge?

zooba72March 31, 2012

Hi - I'm in the process of planting a perimeter hedge around my property. I'm trying to use several different varieties of shrubs. In one area I'm considering using Holly. I'm hoping someone can provide their recommendation on which variety provides the best privacy hedge. I would prefer a variety that grows high and wide and can be trimmed into a tight hedge. My firth thought was Nellie R. Stevens Holly ... Any thoughts?

I'm in zone 7 and I would consider the area to be partial sun. Also, when is the best time to plant?

Thanks in advance

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Nellie tends to have larger leaves and a much coarser texture than most hollies, and that can make it a challenge to keep sheared and look attractive. Burford holly (Ilex cornuta "Burfordii") might be one for you to look into. You would have the extra advantage of abundant berry set without the need for a male pollinizer.

We can make generalizations about the best time to plant in zone 7, but that really doesn't narrow it down very much for us. If you live in the upper or middle South, for example, I always think that fall is the best season for planting, but early spring is fine, too.

You don't want to plant your plants at the onset of very hot temperatures, if at all possible. It can make it more challenging for the plant. Of course, do as I say and not as I do because I have directed the installation of thousands of landscapes all year round...in the deep south. Successfully.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 10:33AM
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I agree with Rhizo, N. Stevens is probably too large for you needs---I prefer NS's as solitary specimen trees. I do use holly as hedges--Blue Princess and Prince. Another one of my favorites is Japanese Holly (Illex crenata). It looks just like Boxwood, is very heat and humidity tolerant, and takes kindly to regular trimming--also very cold hardy.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 11:14AM
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I appreciate the responses. To clarify, I'm located on Long Island, in NY. I would prefer any variety that can form a solid wall over time and reach a height of at least 8FT. Faster growth would be more desirable.

I've read contradicting information regarding the mature height and growth rate of Ilex Crenata, perhaps this variation is regional? Does anyone have any comments on the rate of growth, and its ability to cope with different sun conditions?

Both Ilex Crenata Chesepeake & ScHwoebel are available. Other have recommended Dragon Lady Hollies? Any comments on this variety? Sorry about all of the questions. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 11:25PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

You'll probably be waiting decades for 8 ft. Japanese holly.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 10:07AM
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I need to resurrect this thread ... I originally thought Nellie Stevens Holly would be perfect for my needs, but I've to come realize over the past few months that I have a severe deer problem and Nellie is apparently on the menu.

Can anyone provide their thoughts on Ilex opaca as a hedge? I realize it's more like a tree and grows very large, but can it be trimmed into a hedge? I need an deer resistant evergreen hedge to provide a privacy screen for a pool. This is a perimeter hedge in zone 7, long island. I currently have a deer problem, but will be working to fence them out.

All thoughts and suggestions appreciated. Thank you

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 2:13AM
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viburnumvalley(z5/6 KY)

Ilex opaca is native to Long Island. In fact, the national organization Holly Society of America just had its annual meeting on Long Island in fall 2011. I think one of the tours went to Fire Island to see extant stands of native American Holly there.

Yes, American Holly can be sheared to a fine hedge - but you have to decide whether you have room for it and resources to devote to keeping this plant within the dimensions that you will allow it to occupy. You may select a narrower clone of Ilex opaca - may I suggest 'Cheerful' - or another clone that suits you.

Otherwise, you might best select (if holly is the genus that interests you most) a narrower selection of some other sort of Ilex sp.

Pay no attention to those from the west coast that seem not to understand east coast conditions. You might select one of the narrow clones of Ilex crenata like 'Jersey Pinnacle' or 'Sky Pencil'. No decades required to reach the size you wish - you might (in fact) be able to reasonably purchase this species at or near this height. The growing conditions on Long Island are quite suitable and favorable to many species of Ilex, especially if your site is blessed with the loamy acid sands in which many Holly species thrive.

I cannot assist you with deer-resistance, other than to agree that exclusion (via fencing) is the best medicine.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 10:35PM
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Thank you for the informative response. I wasn't aware that there were different varieties of Ilex opaca and will do some additional research. I did consider Ilex Crenata but this variety is often damaged by deer. Since this particular hedge will be on my property perimeter, I'm trying to focus on shrubs that have been identified as deer resistant (if that's possible). Ilex opaca is supposed to be ... Other varieties include: Ilex x 'John T. Morris' and Ilex x 'Lydia Morris'. However, I've been having difficulty finding any information on these varieties. Thank you again!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 11:09PM
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viburnumvalley(z5/6 KY)

Yes - there are hundreds of named varieties of Ilex opaca, though most are selected for fruiting or foliage characteristics.

You might find good additional information and advice by offering your question to the Holly Society of America website (I'm a current trustee) where many long time holly growers can provide further recommendations.


You will likely find good information about many choices in the genus Ilex...

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 11:25PM
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Natasha Selhi

zooba72 how did you do with this? i too am on Long Island and looking for a privacy hedge that will give my home some privacy some time before my time on this earth expires. looking at Holly too and if good, where did you purchase? Upkeep?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 12:34PM
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edbarnes(zone 7)


This post was edited by edbarnes on Wed, Apr 16, 14 at 20:59

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 8:43PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

I think Ilex 'Needlepoint' might be a good variety in your case, but I don't know what the deer think of it.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 8:09AM
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