Trimming Holly WAY BACK!

Discussion in 'Woody Plants' started by bjulien, Feb 10, 2005.

  1. bjulien

    bjulien Member

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    Question: I have a large Holly (a Nellie Stevens, I think) that needs to be cut back away from the house. It's several feet higher than our 2 story house and planted too close, so that it's bumping up against the house. I want to retain a natural shape when it's cut back.. that is ,I don't want to shear it away from the house, so that it ends up lopsided. A tree trimming company said they could cut the height by ~ 6 ft and trim the sides in by ~ 2ft. But I'm wondering if that's too drastic of a cut? A good portion of the tree height would be cut off. Will that damage the tree? ALso, what time of year should this be done? Thanks!
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Hollies are tolerant of pruning. To retain most natural appearance, study individual branches, see if there are ones that can be cut off near main stem (while leaving the rest unpruned). Do this mid-late summer.
     
  3. GRSJr

    GRSJr Active Member 10 Years

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    Ron gave you good advice, but just to ease your mind about cutting back sizable Holly trees:

    We've cut a 25' tall I. x attenuata 'Savannah' to the ground and then selected the most robust new stems to grow a new tree.

    Likewise with a 15 ft. I. x altaclerensis 'Camelliifolia'.

    Both were deformed by hurricane Fran. It only took a couple of years to have a good sized 'Savannah' again.

    On the other hand, I. opaca 'Betty Nevison' took many years of drop pruning to get a full tree and on transplanting, we had to start all over again. It's finally shaping up this year.

    Ilex crenata hedges can be cut to the ground and will restore to a nice hedge.
    Ours is looking very good after 2 years.

    I'm not recommending such drastic measures. Just want you to realize how resilient Ilex is.
     
  4. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    I wish we had your growing conditions, Ilex take years to gain height and form on the "balmy" West Coast ....Vancouver's climate has the rare luxury to accommodate sailing and skiing in the same day...but the temperatures aren't warm enough for speedy growth...albeit perfect for the 2010 Olympics...best come and see for yourself.
    As far a reshaping Ilex, a hard pruning never killed mine, and after a season most branches showed healthy growth / foliage.
     
  5. Rima

    Rima Active Member

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    Ron B. - Hi, I do bonsai, and normally mid-late summer is the worst time to be cutting back anything. I'm curious why you recommended it, and does it have anything spec. to do with hollies, or ??? The only tree I normally work on in summer (and that would be early) is mugo, as they strangely react a lot better to it than other trees (conifs or not) that normally would be done in the winter, or early spring.
     
  6. GRSJr

    GRSJr Active Member 10 Years

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    Rima,

    Early Spring or late Winter has worked best for me as well. Pruning back here in Summer is asking for a disaster.

    However, the Ilex needed attention after the hurricanes, so fall was the time. They are quite resilient.
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    If y'all talking about Southern sun burning them I could see how that might negate benefits of summer pruning.
     

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