How to Plant an Ilex


Ilex is a genus of the aquifoliaceae family, or holly family and is probably best known for the glossy green, prickly leaves and bright red berries produced on many of the holly plants. Ilex plants include a variety of evergreen and deciduous shrubs and trees. These hollies can range in size from 6 to 40 feet in height and various widths, according to the National Gardening Association. Choose ilex varieties suited for your location for best results.

Step 1

Find a planting location for your ilex in the spring that provides the required space for the mature size in both width and height. Choose planting areas with partial shade to full sun and well-draining soil.

Step 2

Clear the area of all foliage. Dig a hole the same depth as the ilex’s container or root ball and two to five times wider.

Step 3

Remove the holly plant from the container and place it in the hole. Backfill the hole halfway, then fill with water to get rid of any air pockets and settle the dirt around the roots. Fill the rest of the hole and saturate with water again.

Step 4

Supply an inch of water weekly throughout the growing season, unless rainfall provides it.

Step 5

Add a 2-inch layer of mulch around the base of the holly plant, keeping it at least 2 inches away from the plant's trunk. Spread it out as far as the canopy of the holly planted.

Step 6

Add a 2-inch layer of compost around the holly shrub or tree each year in the spring. Extend it out encircling an area as big as the tree’s canopy, and then add another layer of mulch.

Step 7

Prune your holly tree or shrub in the spring if needed to shape. Most varieties of ilex do not require any type of pruning, except to remove dead, diseased or damaged branches.

Things You'll Need

  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Mulch
  • Compost


  • National Gardening Association Plant Care Guides: Holly
  • Floridata: Ilex vomitoria
  • USDA: Genus Ilex

Who Can Help

  • FDEP: Florida’s Hollies
  • Tree Help: Holly
  • About Garden Plants: Ilex Plants
Keywords: plant holly tree, plant holly shrub, aquifoliaceae

About this Author

Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published on Yahoo!, the Travel Channel and Intel.