How to Transplant a Holly Bush


Holly bushes can reach 30 feet in height when fully grown and have been known to reach spreads of 40 feet or more. If bushes were originally planted in confined locations with other plants nearby, your holly bush may become crowded and lack sufficient nutrients or sunlight. Overgrown holly bushes, which often require excessive pruning, may be better off if moved to a more spacious location. This allows the plant to grow to its desired size and reduces your workload.

Step 1

Prepare the new planting site by tilling the top 6 inches of soil and removing any large sticks and stones. Thoroughly weeding the area will also reduce the stress on your plant by eliminating competition for nutrients.

Step 2

Root prune your bush in the fall in preparation for transplanting in early spring. Push a spade approximately 12 inches into the soil around the circumference of your holly bush.

Step 3

Water your holly bush immediately after trimming the roots to reduce the stress on the plant.

Step 4

In early spring, dig a hole at the new planting site the same approximate size as the current space the bush is growing in. The hole should be at least twice the size of the root ball.

Step 5

Thoroughly water the root ball of your holly bush before transplanting. This will nourish your plant before a stressful move and help keep the root ball together.

Step 6

Carefully dig your holly plant out of the ground, keeping the root ball intact. Be sure to allot for 6 inches of root ball for each 1 lateral foot of your holly bush.

Step 7

Place the plant in a wheelbarrow or dolly and immediately transfer to the new planting site.

Step 8

Place the holly bush in the new planting hole and backfill with soil. Be sure the plant is sitting at the same height as it was at its previous site.

Step 9

Spread a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant, taking care not to touch the trunk. This will aid in soil moisture retention and prevent the growth of weeds.

Step 10

Water your bush as soon as the top 2 to 3 inches of soil becomes dry. Check soil moisture regularly by sticking your finger into the topsoil and feeling for dryness.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear gloves when handling holly bushes to prevent cuts and scrapes from the sharp-edged leaves. Handle the root ball gently to prevent cracking, which can severely reduce your plant's chance of survival.

Things You'll Need

  • Till
  • Spade
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow or dolly
  • Gloves
  • Mulch


  • Sandy's Garden: Moving a Holly Bush
  • The-Organic-Gardener: Transplanting Shrubs
  • "American Forests": The Festive American Holly
Keywords: transplant holly bush, move holly bush, holly bush

About this Author

Kelsey Erin Shipman has worked as a travel writer, poet, journalist and award-winning photographer since 2004. Her work has appeared in various newspapers, magazines and journals. Shipman has also authored three collections of poetry: "Cold Days," "Bastante" and "Short Poems." She earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Southwestern University.