Hollies planted singly make excellent specimen trees. Group them to screen the yard from neighbors or traffic noise or to serve as background plantings. They make excellent hedges. Some varieties even lend themselves to topiary sculpture, espalier or bonsai training. Some types of Holly are recommended for seashore gardens. The dwarf types are particularly suited to growing in containers. Japanese Hollies make excellent substitutes for boxwood shrubs in regions where boxwood does not thrive. However, berry-laden female Meserve Hollies and their magnificent glossy, dark bluish-green foliage are a stunning addition to a snow-covered landscape. Plant your Hollies so that they can be seen from indoors so you can enjoy this winter gift.
Cutting/ Indoor Display
Holly branches are ideal for Christmas holiday decorations. Cut berry-laden branches on a mild day, slit the cut ends to help them absorb water, and soak them for 3 to 4 hours in a tub of cool water. They last longest if kept in water into which a teaspoon of sugar has been added. Water that is diluted with an equal proportion of citrus-based soda (not diet) will also help prolong the life of the boughs and retard berry drop. Draped on lintels and mantels or incorporated into wreaths they will last 3 or 4 weeks. Remember that Holly berries and foliage are poisonous if accidentally eaten by small children or pets. Do not use live greens near fireplaces or candles that will be lighted.
Other Uses For American Holly
Holly lumber is not a major commercial material. However, it is interesting to note that it is sometimes used in the building of fine furniture. When made into a veneer the wood of Holly will take a very fine finish. Holly lumber is also used for ship models, inlay work, and wood-turning. In the past it was also valued for use as wood block engraving, handles of umbrellas, and the backs of brushes. When stained black Holly resembles the much sought after African wood ebony. Consequently, holly is often used for the black keys on pianos and organs and for the pegs and fingerboards on violins.
Hollies attract birds very late in the winter when other sources of food are exhausted. Mockingbirds often appropriate a specific Holly tree, fighting off all comers as it feasts on the berries over the waning weeks of winter. Hollies are also a top choice for nesting sites for many types of birds. Unfortunately, Hollies are also a favorite food in winter for the white-tail deer, particularly if they are starving.