How to Plant A Holly Tree Like A Pro

In Celtic mythology the Holly tree is a symbol for peace and goodwill. We decided to celebrate 2023 by planting holly trees in the woods around our home. Plus, holly trees add a pop of color in the winter months. Holly trees are easy to care for and only need to be fertilized once a year. The best location for planting a holly is in well-drained, slightly acidic soil with full sun.

All photos (c) The Comfy Cabin, 2023

Here are the steps to planting holly trees:

Step 1

Lay them out in the configuration that most appeals to you. Remember to try to see them as they will look in maturity. The variety here, ‘Mary Nell’ grows to about 20-30 feet high and spreads out to 10 feet in a pyramid shape, so space them accordingly.

Step 2

Gently remove the holly out of the container. Carefully break up the bottom of the root ball. This is an important step, especially if the plant has become root bound at the nursery. Loosening the bottom of the root system will promote new growth and ensure a good start for your holly in its permanent location.

Step 3

Dig a hole! Our Carolina mountain clay is a bit more challenging than most soils for digging, so we use both a pick and shovel to work through the clay, small rocks, and roots. Though clay is tough to work with, hollies love it!

Step 4

Continue digging until the the hole is twice as wide as the root ball and the root ball sits just slightly above ground level. (See Diagram Below)

Step 5

Place some timed-release tree fertilizer, and an organic soil amendment (bagged top soil and/or a good planting mix, at a 25-50% ratio with the soil removed from the planting hole) at the bottom and sides of the hole.

Step 5

Water the contents liberally, allowing the water to soak through the mixture. Place the holly into the hole and fill the hole with the rest of the original clay. The holly should sit so that the top of the root ball is at about the same height as the top of the hole.

Step 6

Wrap a cover such as burlap around the newly planted holly to keep moisture in the soil and to protect the plant from wind-burn and extreme temperatures. This is an especially important step if you are planting in the winter.

Step 7

Use landscaping pins to hold the burlap in place.

Step 8

The burlap and pins are now in place and should look something like this.

Step 9

Cover the burlap with sawdust or mulch. Finally, water the holly completely one more time.

Before you know it, you will have beautiful holly trees with lovely red berries! 😊🌲

Kurt & Debra Roinestad

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