The holly hedge, also known as the Ilex, has a glossy dark-green foliage and produces red berries. Due its prickly leaves it is difficult to get through, making it an excellent garden feature to deter intruders.
The Holly, being a native hedging plant, is great for providing food and shelter for wildlife. Many birds, such as blackbirds, robins, waxwings and chaffinches feed on the red fruits. Also all the species of the Ilex provide an excellent source of pollen and nectar for bees.
The Ilex is a very popular plant for topiary as it can be easily shaped and trimmed. It can also be grown as a free-standing hedge or in pots and containers.
The Ilex is a hardy plant and can withstand cold, frost and snow. It can also tolerate shady conditions and coastal locations. However, it does not like water-logged soil.
The Holly hedge appreciates full sun to partial shade. The plant is happy when it stands in well-drained soils. However the plant is picky when it comes to soil conditions. It needs to be planted in soils that are rich-acidic for optimal growth.
When planting the Ilex you should avoid planting it in alkaline soils to prevent chlorosis. On the contrary, it has also an advantage as it is somewhat resistant and tolerant to urban pollution. In exposed and cold climates, it is important to keep a thick layer of mulch around the hedge to reduce the rate of water being evaporated from the soil.
If you are looking for a hardy, easy to grow plant that will provide year-round interest then the Holly hedge is the perfect choice!