Propagating Holly

Holly offers year-round color in zones 5 through 9. This shrub provides consistent greenery during the spring and summer, but it puts on a spectacular display in the fall and winter when bold, red berries emerge. This shrub is available in deciduous and evergreen varieties and in various sizes. Propagating holly is an easy way to create more plants to define a space or add privacy. Seeds and cuttings are the only ways to propagate both deciduous and evergreen holly. Both propagation methods are easy but take time.


Methods To Propagate Holly

Cuttings are the easiest and most effective method to propagate holly shrubs. Stem cuttings are sections of the branch removed from a healthy plant and then rooted to create a new plant. Handling cuttings of deciduous holly plants is similar but slightly different from rooting evergreen cuttings. Both deciduous and evergreen holly can be grown from seeds. Separate the seeds from the flesh of the berry, rinse them, and plant the seeds in an outdoor container. The seeds must experience cold in order to germinate, so they should be cold stratified before planting.

What You Need To Propagate Holly

To propagate holly bushes by cuttings, you will need pruning shears and a container to root the new cuttings or a trowel or shovel to plant the cuttings in the ground. If you intend to grow holly plants from seeds, you will need to collect berries from existing plants and use a hand trowel to plant the seeds. Fill a flat or container with seed-starting mix.

Best Time To Propagate Holly

Hardwood holly cuttings must be taken during winter when the plant is dormant. Collect holly berries for seeds in late fall or winter when they have ripened. Try to get berries before they are completely stripped by the birds or falling off the tree. If all goes well, you could have new plants as early as the following spring. Seeds planted late in the winter or early spring may not germinate until the following spring.

Steps To Propagate Holly

Step 1 - Use clean, sharp shears to harvest hardwood cuttings in winter or a semi-ripe cutting in late summer.

Step 2 - Cut a 6-inch piece of a healthy shoot below the bud union. Remove the lower leaves from evergreen holly cuttings, exposing the nodes.

Step 3 - Fill a container with drainage holes with well-drained soil.

Step 4 - Dip the end of the cutting in rooting hormone. Place the holly cutting in the soil so the bud union or growth nodes are covered with potting mix.

Step 5 - Keep the soil damp but never soggy.

Caring For Holly Cuttings

Holly cuttings need sunshine and evenly moist soil; water when the top layer of the potting soil starts to dry out. Recently rooted plants need similar care to develop a robust root system. Young plants can be transplanted to a larger container or moved to an outdoor space when they are at least a few inches tall.

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Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 08-19-2023