How to Plant and Fertilize Blue Holly


Blue holly invokes images of winter landscapes and holidays. Its blue-green leaves and bright red berries are a classic symbol of the cold season and often bring color to barren winter gardens. Blue holly berries are a critical food source for birds and small mammals during the shortages of migrations and winter months. This evergreen is relatively low-maintenance and is easy to plant and fertilize. Mature shrubs can reach 8 feet tall and spread.

Step 1

Plant your blue holly in partial shade where it will receive less than six hours of sunlight a day. Blue holly grows well in slightly acidic, well-draining soils on southern or eastern exposures.

Step 2

Loosen the top 6 inches of soil with a hand tiller or rake. Remove any large sticks or stones and break up clumps of soil.

Step 3

Mix in 50 percent compost or well-rotted manure with original soil. This provides essential soil nutrients and naturally fertilizes your new plant.

Step 4

Dig a hole as deep as the container and twice as wide, using a shovel.

Step 5

Place your blue holly in the hole and spread the roots wide without bending them.

Step 6

Backfill the hole with soil and leave the top of the root ball exposed. This ensures water reaches the newly planted roots.

Step 7

Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the base of your bush to retain soil moisture and prevent the growth of weeds. Hollies prefer hardwood bark mulches.

Step 8

Water your holly immediately after planting, fully saturating the ground. Continue to water your plant once to twice per week, allowing the top 3 inches of soil to dry in between watering.

Step 9

Fertilize once in early spring with a slow-release formula specially made for acid-loving plants. Avoid fertilizing late in the growing season as this will not give new growth a chance to harden off before winter.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear gloves when handling holly bushes to prevent cuts and scrapes from the sharp-edged leaves.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Rake or hand tiller
  • Compost or manure
  • Water
  • Fertilizer


  • Ohio State University: Blue Holly
  • Backyard Gardener: Blue Holly
  • University of Arkansas: Hollies
Keywords: plant blue holly, fertilize blue holly, blue holly

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.