Pruning a holly tree does more than just make it more aesthetically pleasing. It encourages new growth by getting rid of all of the old debris that is clogging up the works and keeping precious sunlight from reaching the core of the tree. It encourages the growth of additional berry bunches because the tree has new space to expand. By following a few basic guidelines, you can be sure you are getting the very best results out of your holly tree year after year.
Prune your tree ideally in the middle of December, while it is in its dormancy. This will result in the least amount of shock to the tree and will assure that there is plenty of room for growth come the following spring.
Wear protective gear when pruning any type of tree, but especially when pruning a holly tree. The edges of its waxy leaves can be quite sharp and can cause minor cuts or more serious damage if one makes contact with your eye.
Trim back any small branches that are growing within roughly 4 feet of the ground. This will not only add to the aesthetic value of the holly tree, but will assure that those higher branches are getting what they need to grow and thrive.
Pull down any dead or broken branches prior to beginning work on the live portions of the tree. Getting rid of the dead stuff will give you a better idea of what parts of the live branches need to be cut back for maximum growth and aesthetic value.
Start at the bottom and work your way up. Begin by cutting back any limbs that have begun to grow on a downward angle below the lowest normal level of the tree canopy. Cut these branches off as near to the trunk as possible without actually cutting into the trunk of the tree.
Cut back any branches that have been damaged or that appear to not be thriving. Also look for limbs that are crowding other branches or ones that are growing against other branches. Begin at the bottom and work your way to the top. This will allow space for new growth and let sunlight into the core of the tree.