How to Prune Holly Bushes


Without proper care and pruning a holly bush can quickly get unwieldy and grow out of control. Thankfully, a little bit of annual pruning can solve this problem and keep your holly bush looking good and producing at peak capacity for years to come.

Step 1

Pick the right time of year for pruning your holly bush. Do the majority of the pruning in early to mid-December each year. This is the time of year when the holly bush is hibernating, so pruning will cause the least amount of shock to the plant's system and will get it ready for the next growing season. Cutting in early to mid-December will also mean that you can use all of those lovely holly bush trimmings for homemade holiday decoration.

Step 2

Put on protective gear when working with a holly bush. The waxy leaves are sharp and can cause injury, especially if you get one of them in your eye. Be sure to wear protective eye-wear and gloves when pruning.

Step 3

Try not to overly shape the bush. Holly bushes are not meant to serve as boxed hedging or topiary pieces. Instead, try to prune in a manner that accentuates the natural shapes and contours of the bush.

Step 4

Cut from the inside out. Begin near the center of the holly bush, cutting away any branches that look sick or dead, and work your way out to the edge of the bush. Remember to cut branches just above new leaf buds or all the way back to the main branch. This will encourage healthy new growth.

Step 5

Refrain from using hedge trimmers when pruning a holly bush. Hedge trimmers will result in box style bushes that are ill suited to the growth patterns of a holly bush. Instead, try to use a smaller set of pruning shears.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Protective eye-wear
  • Gloves


  • Trimming holly bushes
  • Pruning holly bushes
  • Pruning holly bushes
Keywords: pruning, holly plants, pruning holly plants

About this Author

Lucinda Gunnin is a trained and experienced print reporter with almost two decades of experience in the media business. She holds a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield and undergraduate degrees from Adams State College in Colorado. Gunnin has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines and has her fiction published in the anthology "Elements of the Soul."