Pruning Hollies

Hollies have a beautiful, natural shape to them unlike what you see in many plantings where it looks like power tools gone wild. Depending on the type of holly you are growing, it may or may not need regular pruning.


When to Prune Hollies

So when do you prune your holly? The ideal time is in late winter just before they start to put on new growth in the spring.

Why Prune Hollies

Pruning in late winter will allow you to avoid having a bare looking holly because there will be spring growth. That type of pruning will hide those cuts. 

Deciduous hollies only require pruning for a broken/crossed branch or to control height.


Evergreen hollies if they are growing in a hedge should be pruned to keep them to a single height. On evergreen hollies, try not to cut the leaves. What will happen then as the season continues the cut leaf will brown at the edges and you will see it all summer. To control height, the recommendation is to remove ¼ to 1/3 of the oldest branches. Other hollies may be pruned to keep their original shape. 

Holly Pruning Tips

Pruning hollies does not mean to get out the power tools and pretend that you are Edward Scissorhands. A good pair of sharp hand pruners is usually sufficient. Professionals will simply follow a branch that needs to be shaped and remove it by cutting it back inside the plant and hiding the cut. That is a good way to reduce the height of the plant. However if you are training it into a particular shape, you can use hedge clippers.


If you are cutting branches for holiday decorations, wait until the weather has turned cold so as to not encourage new growth.

  • Get good pair of sharp hand pruners
  • Evergreen and deciduous hollies require different pruning techniques
  • Wait until the weather has turned cold for holiday decorations

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Author Chris Link - Published 10-19-2021