January 23, 2016
Savannah holly is a superb evergreen plant to grow in Mississippi and is one of my favorite landscape hollies. Savannah holly is a hybrid of our native American holly, Ilex opaca and normally has a natural pyramidal growth habit which is loose and open. This holly is versatile in the landscape and is used for specimens or screening. These plants are moderately-fast growing shrubs, and can actually grow into small trees, reaching up to 35 feet tall. However, these hollies tolerate pruning very well if the homeowner wants to maintain a specific size and structure. The foliage of Savannah holly is typically a dull light green and the leaf margins have numerous soft spines of on each leaf. When compared with other hollies having dark glossy green foliage, like Nellie R. Stevens, Savannah holly can appear to be a bit chlorotic. But the foliage color is perfectly normal. The trunk and side branching have a smooth texture and are light to medium gray in color. The berries are a real show stopper from November through March. The tight clusters of berries are formed towards the ends of the branches. The plentiful quarter inch berries are fluorescent red and are a favorite winter delicacy of birds. Savannah holly will tolerate almost any well drained landscape soil. Just be sure not to plant too deeply, keeping the top of the container even or slightly above the native soil. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman and I’ll see you next time on Southern Gardening.