Japanese holly are often smaller, rounded and bush-like hollies that grow best in temperate climates. Differences in varieties include size and leaf color. In other areas, such as sun requirement and soil preferences, the different varieties of Japanese holly tend to do best in similar conditions.
The Japanese beehive holly is a compact, globe shaped holly that can grow to between 3 and 4 feet. This Japanese holly is cold tolerant down to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hardiness Zone 5. The leaves of this holly are shiny green. Beehive holly does best in light soils that retain water, but drain well, and grows full sun to partial shade. The beehive holly grows white flowers that eventually grow into 1/4-inch black berries.
Compacta Japanese holly grows to between 4 and 5 feet high and wide and is very similar to the other varieties of Japanese holly. This variety grows very slowly and, like other Japanese hollies, has shiny green leaves. Grown best in light conditions ranging from full sun to partial shade, this variety also does best in light soils that drain well while retaining water.
Helleri Japanese holly is a very dense dwarf Japanese holly that grows well in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 through 8. This holly grows wider than it does tall, averaging 3 to 6 feet tall and 5 to 8 feet wide. It grows slowly into a dense, squat, ball shape. Like other hollies, it grows best in full sun, but also can grow well in partial shade. Its soil requirements are similar to other hollies, preferring light soils that drain well. Although this holly also features shiny green leaves, its grayish green cast sets it apart from other Japanese hollies.