Holly – Ilex spp.

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Holly – Ilex spp.

Common Name: Holly

Botanical Name: Ilex spp., EYE-leks

Decorative Life: 5-14 days.

Flower Color: , ,


Family Roots:
  • Member of the Aquifoliaceae (holly family).
  • Native to North/South America and Asia.
  • Some not so common relatives include mountain holly, winterberry and yerba mate.
  • Noted for their red or yellow berries clustered along stems with stiff, spiky, glossy green or variegated leaves.
  • Stems with fruit are cut to various lengths.
  • Plant is an evergreen shrub or tree, classed as a dicotyledon, leaves not parallel veined.
  • Flowers are not fragrant.
Storage Specifics:

The best available data suggests that they be stored at 36-38 F (three days or less), 32-34 (more than three days). Stroage up to 23 days is possible if held at 32 +/-F. High humidity is also beneficial.

  • Scientific name is derived from the Latin for Quercus ilex, the holly oak.
  • Most plant species have male and female reproductive parts in the same flower. However, holly has male flowers on one tree and female on another. Therefore, at least one male plant, one female plant, and pollen carrying-insects are required for pollination and subsequent fruit production.
  • A very large and complex genus of over 400 species.
  • Holly species and cultivars vary in their sensitivity to ethylene. The cultivar ‘Burford’ is relatively insensitive but Chinese and English holly species are very sensitive.
  • Do not pre-green arrangements with holly as it will generally not perform well.
Recent Research Findings:

While the following reference surely does not fit the “recent” research findings category, it does demonstrate how long the industry has been fighting the fruit and leaf fall problem of holly. Milbrath and Hartman (1942) presented a formula of a postharvest dip that greatly reduced abscission. It contained 0.003% auxin (NAA) and summer oil (one pint per 100 gallons of water). While this mixture is not EPA registered and has not been tested against the like of STS or MCP, it might be worth someone’s effort to revisit this subject someday.

Personal Experience:

Of the cultivars tested, Jones et al. (2004) showed that ‘Bonfire’ and ‘Sunset’ lasted the longest as measued by fruit retention.