How to Prune Yaupon

Properly pruned yaupon holly image by Jim Gober


The yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) is native to the southeastern United States and is used as a screen, hedge or specimen tree. The bright red berries borne by the female plant are an important source of food for migratory birds. The evergreen grows in full sun or shade and is hardy to zone 8.

Step 1

Step back 50 feet to visualize how the plant should look. Yaupon hollies can be sheared to form a hedge, shaped into a treelike form, or espaliered.

Step 2

Decide how many trunks you would like the yaupon to have if you are pruning it as a specimen tree. An odd number of trunks--one, three or five--looks best.

Step 3

Prune off suckers, or branches growing out of the root zone, and work your way up the trunk, removing small branches along the way.

Step 4

Prune minor branches away from main branches within the canopy, but don't cut branches that will leave a void in the canopy.

Step 5

Trim low-hanging branches by cutting back to a point where the branch is growing in the desired direction.

Tips and Warnings

  • Seek professional help when pruning branches that interfere with electrical lines. Parts of a yaupon holly, including the berries, are toxic if ingested. Always wear safety glasses and garden gloves when pruning. Yaupon hollies are considered an invasive species in Texas.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Safety glasses
  • Garden gloves


  • Yaupon Holly Information
  • Yaupon Holly
  • How to Espalier
Keywords: yaupon holly prune, prune yaupon, yaupon holly care

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.

Photo by: Jim Gober