Hybrid Holly

The Meserve hybrid hollies combine the cold hardiness of low-growing prostrate holly (Ilex rugosa) with the lustrous foliage of English holly (I. aquifolium), resulting in a group of cultivars often known as blue hollies.

The blue hollies form large, broadly pyramidal shrubs that make handsome hedges, group plantings, or individual specimens. Their spiny-edged evergreen leaves are a beautiful, glossy, deep bluish green. Like other hollies, these produce male and female flowers on separate plants. When pollinated, the female plants bear loads of shiny red fruits that provide a colorful winter show.

Common name: Meserve holly, blue holly
Botanical name: Ilex x meserveae
Plant type: Evergreen shrub
Zones: 5 to 8
Height: 8 to 15 feet
Family: Aquifoliaceae

Growing Conditions


Sun: Full sun or partial shade
Soil: Loamy, acidic, with ample organic matter
Moisture: Evenly moist but well drained

Care


Mulch: 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch such as wood chips or pine needles
Pruning: Prune lightly to shape only as needed
Fertilizer: Apply compost or diluted soluble fertilizer as needed

Propagation


Cuttings

Pests and Diseases


Root rot in overly wet soils

Cultivars


  • ‘Blue Boy’ is a good pollinator for ‘Blue Girl’.

  • ‘Blue Girl’ is a fast-growing female with bright red fruit.

  • Blue Maid produces showy fruit crops.

  • Blue Prince is a cold hardy male.

  • Blue Princess is an especially prolific fruit producer and has good cold hardiness.

  • Blue Stallion can be used as a pollinator for any of the female blue hollies

  • Golden Girl bears bright golden fruits that contrast nicely with its glossy bluish green foliage.

Garden notes


  • The cultivars China Boy and China Girl are often counted as Meserve hollies, but they are a cross between prostrate holly and Chinese holly (I. cornuta). They are better adapted to heat and humidity than the blue hollies.

  • In cold regions, plant Meserve hollies in protected locations to help prevent winter desiccation of the leaves.

  • Though a little prickly, leafy stems of Meserve hollies make nice additions to winter bouquets.

All in the Family


  • Meserve holly is a member of the holly family (Aquifoliaceae), which contains just three genera.

  • Ilex is the most prolific genus in the holly family with about 400 species worldwide.

  • Many holly species hybridize readily and there are now scores of hybrid holly cultivars in the nursery trade.

Where to Buy


Forestfarm, forestfarm.com
Sooner Plant Farm, soonerplantfarm.com