Common Name: American holly
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 15.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 8.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Clay Soil, Air Pollution
Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in locations protected from cold winter winds. Part afternoon shade is best in hot summer climates. Avoid poorly drained soils. Prune in winter if needed. Plants of this species are dioecious (separate male and female plants). ‘Canary’ is a female cultivar. For ‘Canary’ to bear its signature yellow fruit, a male pollinator in the area is needed.
American holly (Ilex opaca) is native from Massachusetts to Florida west to Missouri and Texas. It is a pyramidal to columnar tree that typically grows 15-30’ (less frequently to 50’) tall, featuring (a) spiny, dull evergreen leaves, (b) greenish-white spring flowers and (c) pea-sized scarlet fruit that persists over winter. ‘Canary’ is a yellow-fruited cultivar that was reportedly introduced around 1940 from cuttings taken from a tree found in the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. Elliptic, leathery, small-spined, dull green leaves (2-4” long) are evergreen. Greenish-white flowers appear in May and are generally inconspicuous. Pollinated flowers give way to an often profuse supply of berry-like drupes (to 3/ 8” diameter) which ripen to an ornamentally attractive yellow in fall and persist throughout the winter. Birds are attracted to the fruit. Opaca means opaque or dull, in reference to the non-lustrous leaf surface on species plants (some cultivars have more lustrous foliage).
Potential insect problems include holly leaf miner, spider mites, whitefly and scale. Potential disease problems include leaf spot, leaf rot, tar spot and powdery mildew. Plants are also susceptible to leaf drop, leaf scorch and chlorosis (yellowing of leaves in high pH soils).
Specimen or small groups. Foundation planting. Foliage and fruit provide good color for the winter landscape.