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Native yaupon garners Mississippi Medallion
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Kathy Ann, a native yaupon holly from Stone County, Miss., leads an impressive list of plants that have been announced as Mississippi Medallion winners for this spring.
You won't have to go to Stone County to find the Kathy Ann yaupon holly as this exquisitely formed small tree already has found its place in the hearts of landscapers from Texas to Georgia and the Carolinas.
Dan Batson, owner of Greenforest Nursery in Perkinston, Miss., discovered the Kathy Ann, while on a hunt. You might be suspecting a deer hunt, but in fact it was on a yaupon holly hunt. It may have been love at first sight for both his wife Kathy Ann and the holly he named after her.
What made a native yaupon stand out in the wild to a nurseryman? It will be the same attributes that will enhance your landscape. First of all, the tree had a picturesque, up-right growth habit.
The leaves are darker green and larger serving as a good contrast with the white bark that adds further winter landscape appeal. In fact as the tree ages, it is a good idea to remove the lowest branches to allow the bark to reach its real aesthetic potential.
The trait that determines whether a yaupon is mediocre or outstanding is berry production. The Kathy Ann is in an elite class as one of the most prolific berry producing hollies.
Since yaupon hollies can be male or female plants, it stands to reason that to have berry production you will need a female plant. This is one reason why a superior berry producing variety like the Kathy Ann has gained such recognition in the southern United States.
These berries give great winter color to the landscape and are pretty indoor holiday decorations. They provide a valuable source of food to more than a half dozen species of birds, including the much-valued bobwhite quail.
The Kathy Ann reaches 15 to 20 feet in height and is a perfect choice for use as an accent or the focal point to a special garden. Cluster three in a group or as a great single specimen. Choose a site in full sun for best berry production. Prepare a bed by incorporating three to four inches of organic matter along with 2 pounds of a 5-10-5 fertilizer per 100 square feet.
When digging the planting hole, remember that wider is better. This allows for good root expansion and establishment. Complete the planting by adding a good layer of mulch.
Feed your Kathy Ann about four weeks after transplanting with 1 pound of an 8-8-8 fertilizer per 100 square feet. Established plantings can be given this application in April and August. Yaupons do not like to dry out. If you have an abundance of berries, many will drop off if they get too dry, so give supplemental irrigation during long droughty periods.
The Kathy Ann yaupon holly is cold hardy throughout the entire state. Look around your landscape and see where two or three might fit and then you will quickly agree with the Mississippi Plant Selections Committee that this native is deserving of the Mississippi Medallion award.