Variegated Hollies for the South?

nikkie_in_torontoSeptember 6, 2013

I'm "newer" to gardening in the South, hence the name, but I was given a large variegated Ilex aquifolium by a friend from Ohio and I'm not sure what to do with it? I have very sandy soil in Charleston and was thinking of placing it under the canopy of a live oak. I see them sold at quite a few nurseries in Charleston, but most material I see online states that the plant does not do well. Does anyone have any experience with English Holly? Is there another variegated type of holly that does well in the South? Thank you

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i don't see those in gardens around here and have read the same reviews that you have about the heat and humidity of our areas being rough on them.
i do, however, see plantings of variegated tea olive (osmanthus heterophylus 'variegata') around here and they give a similar look in the landscape. the cultivar 'oshiki' is another variegated osmanthus with cream, pink, green, yellow in the leaves - not as clean looking to me as 'variegata'.
you won't get the colorful berries of the hollies but the fragrant flowers are a nice compensation.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 12:01PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

How large is this shrub you were given? How large is the root ball?
Would it fit in a very large planter with better than sandy soil?
Hollies in general tolerate excess water but the sandy earth of Charleston might be too sharply draining.
I'd check and ask in the Tree Forum.
Maybe just me, but I wouldn't plant it under a live oak canopy. Too much competition for nutrients as well as moisture.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 10:39PM
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Thank you all for the information... Its in a 45 gallon pot right now, and about 7ft tall by 4-5ft wide, but I have a feeling it needs to get out of the pot soon. I know that ilex aquifolium seems to do well in Tennessee and in Raleigh at JC Raulston, but again night time temperatures are likely to cool off quicker than in Charleston. I have called various nurseries and they all say the same thing, which is that its simply "too hot." for them and to stay with ilex cornuta or opaca. I may just leave it in Ohio who is another plant fanatic. I used to collect hollies in Ohio and love the variegated types. I wish I could find some suitable for the Southeast, but so far no luck. Thank you all again!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 8:49AM
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topsiebeezelbub(z7 Al)

Maybe someone at your local botanical garden can help. It sounds like a wonderful tree and I know you want to take good care of it.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 12:08PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I don't check this forum often, and this post is fairly old. But, just on the chance, I can recommend a couple of plants that I grow with great success here in east Central Mississippi.

Jeff was referring to osmanthus, Goshiki. It is a lovely, very holly like plant: evergreen, drought tolerant, shade tolerant, with green and yellow variegation. In most botanical gardens you will see it in shade.If you can give it morning sun, you will get the brightest color in its leaves, but it really needs protection from afternoon sun. It is a very easy plant, but difficult to find. My guess is that's because it is very very slow growing. Nevertheless, it's absolutely worth having and once it gets to the size you want, a light clipping in the spring is all it needs to look its best.

Osmanthus, variegatus is another shrub that looks like English holly. It has very strong white variegation in the leaves and is truly one of my favorite variegated shrubs. It grows, slowly, in a slender upright form and is virtually carefree. It does need shade, which limits its usefulness. Nevertheless, I would miss mine if they were gone.

I also grow Ilex cornuta, O'Spring. It is a lovely yellow with green variegation. It grows in a pyramidal form and is very easy to grow. It is also very very slow growing. My plants are about four feet high, were grown from rooted cuttings and have been in the ground about 8 years. They might have grown a bit faster if I hadn't moved them so many times in their early years. :) This, however, is just a testament to how tough and easy they are. They grow fastest and look best in full sun, but will tolerate less.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 4:05PM
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donna... Thank you for the information. I did purchase two Ilex cornuta O'Springs last year and they have done very well through the past winter and summer. They were about 4-5 ft tall and grew about 6-8 inches. Very nice plants. I have been looking at various Osmanthus heterophyllus including Ogon, which I have been looking for. I found some nice Ilex cornuta Sunny Burford, which have a beautiful yellow new color on the growth. About 15 years ago when I was traveling in North Carolina, I saw some beautiful specimens for sale of Ilex Whoa Nellie or Golden Nellie (not sure which name is proper) but they seem impossible to find today. I like the cornuta D'or, though not variegated, they yellow berries are very nice. Again though, I cant find it anywhere. Thank you again!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 11:01AM
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Hope you see this post, even though it's been months, check out this nursery Woodlanders dot net.
They have sooo many hollies on there its incredible, and they are a reputable online nursery.
They have several with gold berries, go see.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 12:43PM
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