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The Best Time to Prune Holly Bushes

holly bush image by Sunshine Photos from

Although they are often associated with the Christmas season, holly bushes add beauty to any landscape all year round. Whether pruning holly into hedges or to maintain their shrub-like shape, knowing how to prune your holly will make all the difference.


Although several species of holly exist, most should be pruned in December, when bushes are dormant. indicates that pruning during harsh winter conditions will cause purple spots to develop on leaves. Pruning during summer or soon after flowering will result in loss of berry production.


Prune holly bushes by removing dead, diseased or excess growth. Begin from the inside branches and prune toward the outside branches. Cut just above younger buds or along the central branch.


Properly pruning holly bushes encourages new growth by providing space for an abundance of thick foliage in the coming year. Prune to enhance shape and create a neat, clean appearance. Shape holly bushes into hedges that provide shade and privacy.

Prune Holly Bushes From The Bottom?

Pruning a large shrub, like a holly, from the bottom transforms it into a small tree and is technically called arborization or, more commonly, "limbing up." When a holly has been neglected, foliage on lower limbs can severely shade other areas of the garden -- if not grow right over them -- and interfere with walkways or scrape against the side of the house. While hollies grow back after being cut down -- as low as 1 foot -- arborization is an option that lets you keep the look of a mature plant in your landscape, while benefiting from the effects of pruning. Otherwise, when you think the holly looks good, you're done. Cut back the lowest branches to the trunk without leaving stubs.

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