Hollies can make a big impact on the look of our landscapes during the winter. With their red berries, hollies can become an instant greeting card to visitors.
If you have a suitable location in your landscape, consider planting these versatile and hardy plants.
Hollies generally prefer moist, well-drained soils in partial shade. Be careful not to fertilize too much, or the plant will yield less fruit.
Hollies have male and female flowers on separate plants. Usually pollination is not a problem because of the large number of hollies in surrounding areas.
Shrub-like hollies include those of the Chinese type, such as Burford and Dwarf Burford. Both have broad leaves and are heavy berry producers.
American holly is a good berry producer and bears the classic holly leaf familiar to most of us. There are numerous cultivars and hybrids from which to choose. These tree-type hollies make spectacular plants when fully covered with fruit in late fall and winter. Popular hollies in this group include East Palatka, Savannah, Foster, Hume and Croonebury.
Nellie R. Stevens holly is another good choice for our area. It was developed by crossing an English holly with Burford holly.
Yaupon holly is native to south Georgia, where it grows into a small evergreen tree. This holly has a finer leaf habit from those mentioned above. Female plants of Yaupon holly produce shiny red berries. Dwarf Yaupon is a very tough ornamental plant that will tolerate hot, dry locations that boxwoods cannot stand. It is not planted for berry production.
Other Yaupons include the weeping variety Pendula.
One other excellent tree holly worth mentioning is Luster Leaf. With its large leaves and abundant dull red berries, its overall appearance reminds me of Southern Magnolia.
SAVE ON YOUR ENERGY BILL: With all the early cold weather this year and high electric and gas bills, you should assess the energy efficiency of your landscape. Do you have evergreen trees or shrubs blocking a window where the sun's warmth would be welcome? Consider replacing them with deciduous plants that would let sun in during the winter but cast cooling shade in the summer.
WINTER WEEDS: Control winter weeds such as wild garlic, chickweed, Florida betony and annual bluegrass with a lawn-formula herbicide that is recommended for your type of grass. Spray on a warm day and be patient because results are slow during the winter.
Sid Mullis is the director of the University of Georgia Extension Service Office for Richmond County. Call him at 821-2349 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The offices that serve Richmond and Columbia counties have a Web page at www.griffin.peachnet.edu/ga/columbia.