The Soft Touch (Ilex crenata) is a variety of Japanese holly, the most widely grown type of holly, according to horticulturists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Japanese hollies, the Soft Touch included, are not the spiky Christmas-type that comes to mind when you think of the plant. The leaves are spineless, flexible and rounded and the fruit is black. Soft Touch holly shrubs are easy to care for when grown within U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness zones 6b through 8.
Water the Soft Touch holly only if there is little rainfall. Drench the soil to a depth of 6 inches, once a week. If your holly is planted in clay soil, water every other week.
Fertilize the Soft Touch holly in the middle of March with a fertilizer labeled for use on acid-loving plants. Apply it at the rate suggested on the label by spreading it on the soil beneath the shrub and out to 1 1/2 feet beyond the widest branches. Do not allow the fertilizer to touch the holly shrub's trunk. Water after fertilizing to soak the product into the soil.
Spread a 3-inch layer of peat moss over the soil, 1 foot away from the trunk, and spread 1 foot beyond the outermost tips of the branches. Replace the peat moss mulch annually with a fresh layer.
Prune the Soft Touch to remove dead or dying branches. Cut them back until you see healthy wood, and make the cut 1/2-inch above a leaf.
Inspect the Soft Touch holly periodically for pests. The most common pest on the shrub is the spider mite, and it strikes during hot, dry weather. Use a miticide labeled for use on holly plants at the first sign of infestation.