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 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.
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.
Prune off suckers, or branches growing out of the root zone, and work your way up the trunk, removing small branches along the way.
Prune minor branches away from main branches within the canopy, but don't cut branches that will leave a void in the canopy.
Trim low-hanging branches by cutting back to a point where the branch is growing in the desired direction.
Things You Will Need
- Pruning shears
- Safety glasses
- Garden gloves
- When cutting a branch back to the main trunk, leave the collar. Cutting branches flush with the main trunk will hinder the plant's ability to heal.
- If pruning to form a hedge, prune so the bottom of the hedge is slightly wider than the top. This allows sunlight to reach the bottom branches and creates a fuller look when new branches form.
- Female plants only produce berries when planted in close proximity to male plants. The ratio of male to female plants for heaviest berry production is 4 to 1.
- Shop for a yaupon holly in the fall when you can see if the plant is producing berries.
- 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.
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