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Ann D. Spivey

Title Summary Date ID Author(s)
Virginia Cut Holly Production: Alternative Ground Cover
Ground covers are low-growing plants that prevent weed establishment and act as a living mulch. Desirable ground covers compete minimally for nutrients, light, water or space. They require minimal maintenance and return organic matter and nutrients to the soil (Figure 1).

Three factors help determine whether changing an existing ground cover is justified. Ask yourself these questions:

May 1, 2009 430-466
Virginia Cut Holly Production: Holly Pollination and Honey Bees
Most hollies, whether deciduous or evergreen, require a male plant as a pollinator to insure fruit set. Though some hollies will set fruit in the absence of a male, the resulting berries will have sterile seeds.

English holly (Ilex aquifolium), American holly (I. opaca) and winterberry (I. verticillata) are holly species having male and female flowers borne on separate plants (dioecious). Female plants produce flowers without viable pollen, therefore, they are dependent upon male plants for pollination.

May 1, 2009 430-468
Virginia Cut Holly Production: Orchard Layout and Planting

If you decide to grow either evergreen or deciduous hollies and have selected a location, plan the physical layout of your orchard. After designing the layout and prior to purchasing plants, prepare your land by plowing/disking, incorporating recommended fertilizers, applying herbicides and/or establishing an alternative ground cover.

May 1, 2009 430-467
Virginia Cut Holly Production: Pest Management
Insects, diseases, animals and environmental conditions can all injure holly plants. Monitor your plants frequently, and when signs or symptoms appear, use a systematic approach to diagnosing plant disorders.

Chewing Insects

Holly leaf miners are chewing insects that feed on hollies, preferably American hollies. The larvae are small, yellow maggots that tunnel between upper and lower leaf surfaces. Their feeding creates light-colored, scribble-like patterns on affected leaves. Unsightly mines result in aesthetic damage
May 1, 2009 430-469
Virginia Cut Holly Production: Planning and Site Selection
There is no substitute for careful planning when dealing with a long-term crop such as cut holly. While evergreen hollies mature in ten to twelve years, deciduous hollies take only three to four years before producing berries. Initial plant size, plus cultural practices, will determine berry production time.

Consider many factors before deciding whether to grow cut holly. If you are willing to invest in land, equipment and labor for a crop that will take several years before harvest, ask yourself the following questions. Are you willing or able to:

May 1, 2009 430-465
Virginia Cut Holly Production: Pruning, Harvesting and Marketing
Brilliant red berries make evergreen and deciduous hollies desirable as Christmas greenery. Cut holly berries and evergreen leaves are cold tolerant and retain much of their shape and color even when partially dry.

Holly cultivars vary as to the age at which the first berried branches (sprays) will be ready to harvest. On average, evergreen hollies mature in ten to twelve years while deciduous hollies take only three to four years before producing berried sprays for harvest.

May 1, 2009 430-470
Virginia Cut Holly Production: Vegetation Control

Control of grass, weeds, and brush is an important cultural practice. Before planting a holly orchard, develop a weed control strategy that will ensure good plant growth at a minimal cost. Reasons for vegetation control include:

  • reduction of competition (for light, moisture, nutrients, and space) that may hinder holly growth
  • reduction of insect and disease damage
  • reduction of interference with equipment and labor movement
  • prevention of accidental damage to young trees
  • reduction of damage by animals (deer, voles, etc.)
  • improvement of orchard appearance for marketing purposes
May 1, 2009 430-471