Watering Hollies

Watering hollies is simple enough if you follow our directions to insure their survival. All hollies prefer a moist, well-drained, acidic soil. 

How do you water hollies

When planting hollies you should water them when planting and at least once a week until the plant is established, usually about 3 months. It is best to water plants in the early evening or early morning. You want to allow foliage to dry thoroughly. That will help the plant thrive. You should water the hollies deeply around the base of the plant and not overhead watering which doesn’t really moisten the soil completely. You don’t want to underwater them. That encourages shallow roots which dry out much faster.


When watering, you should water the area below the plant as far as the branches reach out to encourage rooting. During periods of extremely hot weather/drought, watering your holly is critical to encourage them to thrive and grow in the landscape. You should continue to water on a regular basis until a freeze occurs. 

Best Time To Water Hollies 

So how do you determine if a holly needs water? For starters you should be watering on a weekly basis rather than waiting for the plant to tell you it needs water. Rainfall should be equivalent to at least one inch of water in one week, otherwise you should be watering your holly. The rule of thumb is 1.5 gallon for every caliper inch. If you have a dry season at planting time, you should water every 4 days with that amount. 

How Do You Know When To Water Hollies 

With evergreen hollies the leaves will wither and crinkle then turn yellow and brown. At that stage the plant is not only in dire need of water, it is to the point of dying. On deciduous hollies the leaves will turn yellow then brown and fall off the plant. 

A professional grower's trick is to touch the leaves and feel the turgidity, which is another way of saying the leaves feel fresh and full. Another clue is if your soil is very dry or cracked which can happen in the heat of the summer. You should incorporate compost into the soil to help it retain moisture and prevent cracking.

Remember that hollies like moist well drained soil, not a soggy one and certainly not a dry one. In order for the soil not to dry out too fast, a light mulch is always recommended. Just don’t put the mulch right up against the base of the plant. That is because mice and rabbits can use it as a camouflage in the winter and gnaw on the bark and effectively kill the plant.


With all plants, watering should be continued until the first freeze, not frost. That is especially important for evergreen hollies to help protect the leaves against windburn in the winter.

Holly Watering Tips

  • Hollies prefer a moist, well-drained soil
  • Water once per week
  • Feel the leaves to determine if the plant needs water
  • Give the plant a big drink before winter hits

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Author Chris Link - Published 10-19-2021