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Hollies time berry color for Christmas displays
The Christmas season is a time for decorating, as we put up wreaths, poinsettias and trees. But Mother Nature is always in on the plan, too. I love the timing that allows our landscape hollies to get into the decorating action with their bright and colorful berry displays.
The most prevalent holly berries we see right now in Mississippi are on our native yaupon holly.
If you do any driving, you will see this plant on full display, as it seems to literally pop out of woodland edges everywhere. Yaupon holly has very distinctive berries. Sure, they’re red -- and I mean bright, candy-apple red -- but they also have a translucent quality that imparts a gem-like appearance. So, in other words, yaupon hollies are garden jewels that will sparkle in your landscape.
But yaupon hollies provide color beyond just their berries. The bark of yaupon is a bright gray that accentuates the berry color.
The native yaupon holly should actually be called a small tree, as it grows up to 20 feet tall. Its size could overwhelm a typical home landscape, but there a couple of interesting selections that are landscape worthy. Weeping yaupon is a small tree that can grow to about 12 feet high, and its branches have a weeping, cascading growth habit.
Nellie R. Stevens is a hybrid holly that is a wintertime favorite. Its leaves are a dark, glossy green year-round, and it has a nice, triangular growing habit. But the real attraction is its berry production -- literally thousands of brightly colored red berries.
Nellie R. Stevens has the potential to be a big plant, up to 20 feet tall and wide. This is a tough and durable plant that will accept pruning to keep it under control, but the best practice is to plant it in a space that will accept the growth potential. Prune merely to shape and maintain the pyramidal form.
Because of the plant’s impeccable timing, the berries color up at exactly the right time and are perfect for homemade Christmas wreaths and decorative garlands. Or, why not bring some of the dazzling displays of red berries indoors? Trim some branches, and bring them indoors for a winter arrangement on the table or fireplace mantle. What can be more appropriate heading into the holiday season than decorating with something gathered from the landscape?
Along with adding beauty to our landscapes and tablescapes, these winter-fruiting hollies also play an important role as a winter food source for wildlife. They also provide habitat for nesting birds.
If you are looking for a way to bring seasonal color into your landscape, consider the year-round beauty of a Mississippi native yaupon holly or a beautiful hybrid.