How to Plant American Holly


American holly (Ilex opaca) is particularly popular during the winter holidays when used in decorations. It is also valued as an ornamental in the residential landscape and, because of its dense growing habit, used for privacy screens and hedging. Allowed to grow as a tree, American holly will reach a height of 40 feet. Disease and pest-resistant, American holly is tolerant of a wide range of soil textures and pH levels.

Step 1

Select a planting site for the American holly that receives either full sun or afternoon shade.

Step 2

Dig a hole 1 inch shallower than and twice as wide as the pot in which the American holly is growing. Use a garden fork or pitchfork to scrape the sides of the hole so that the roots can penetrate the soil. If you will be growing more than one holly as hedging, space the plants 5 to 6 feet apart.

Step 3

Remove the American holly from the pot and place the roots in the hole. The area where the roots meet the trunk should sit 1 inch above the surface of the soil.

Step 4

Fill the hole halfway with soil, then fill it with water. When it drains, fill it with soil.

Step 5

Water to a depth of 6 inches.

Step 6

Add a 2-inch layer of mulch to the soil around the tree, keeping it 3 inches from the bark.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Garden fork or pitchfork
  • Mulch


  • Virginia Tech: American Holly
  • USDA Forest Service: American Holly
  • Fast-Growing Trees: American Holly Trees
Keywords: plant American holly, American holly planting, grow American holly

About this Author

Victoria Hunter has been a freelance writer since 2005, specializing in gardening-related topics and the real estate industry. She is a former broadcaster and real estate agent who has provided audio and written services to small businesses and large corporations worldwide. She writes for, GardenGuides and ProFlowers, among others. Hunter holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/creative writing.