Types of Holly Bushes

With over 400 different species, hollies are a large genus that includes evergreen and deciduous shrubs, trees and climbers. Grown for their bright green, glossy leaves and contrasting red berries, hollies are an extremely hardy, long-lasting plant. Their small flowers are cup-shaped and foliage often spiny with round berries. The berry colors range from red and black to white, yellow and orange. This versatile species looks striking as a hedgerow or planted along a front bed.

American Holly

The American holly bush is a slow growing evergreen with an upright, conical shape. When young, this hardy bush has a pyramidal shade that changes to a more open shape with irregular high branches. The American holly grows up to 60 feet tall and 35 feet wide, creating a commanding presence to the landscape. The dark green, leathery leaves grow over 3 inches long and are fringed with small spines. Beginning in the spring, the American holly shrub has small white flowers that light up the bush. The red berries of the American holly mature in fall and last into winter. American holly prefers full sun to partial shade and moist, well-drained soils. They are not tolerant of windy, extremely dry or wet sites. The USDA hardiness zone is 5 to 9.

Chinese Holly

This moderate growing evergreen bush has medium to course texture. Its upright, dense form is rounded in shape and multi-stemmed. The Chinese holly has small white flowers that emerge every spring and grow under 1 inch wide. The bright red berries emerge every fall to last through the winter. Chinese holly grows up to 15 tall and 7 feet wide. Its dark green leaves are long and grow up to 4 inches long. Chinese holly bushes are drought and heat tolerant and ideal in arid climates where moisture is limited. Chinese holly attracts bumblebees and tolerates a severe pruning every season. These hardy bushes prefer full sun to light shade and can grow in a wide range of soil types. The USDA hardiness zone is 7 to 9.

Emily Brumer

The Emily Brumer holly is an evergreen shrub with a moderate growth rate and medium texture. Its pyramidal shape is broad and dense with horizontal branching. Emily Brumer grows between 15 and 20 feet high and 8 feet wide. The dark green, glossy leaves of the Emily Brumer grows over 4 inches long with 10 to 13 spines on each side, making for a prickly bush. The flowers on the Emily Brumer bush are bright red, large and grow in clusters that encircle the stem to provide a bright contrast to the bush. Emily Brumer prefers full sun to partial shade and tolerates a wide range of soils, making for a very versatile and hardy shrub to grow among the landscape. The USDA hardiness zone is 7 to 9.

Keywords: holly bush types, American holly, Chinese holly, Emily Brumer holly

About this Author

Callie Barber is a writer and photographer in North Carolina. Her work has appeared in Forbes and Automotive News magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.