Should I wait before transplanting holly bushes?

I want to transplant our holly bushes again since this winter there was a lot of ground water and I transplanted them this past spring. They have several brown leaves, do I need to wait a little longer to transplant the bushes?

Answer #1

Caring for American Holly :

American holly is prized as an easy-care tree for the home landscape. It won’t need supplemental watering except when first planted, in droughts, or in late fall before the ground freezes for the winter. Even well-established trees will need watering during a severe drought. Hollies are sensitive to over-fertilization and each year need only one application of a slow-release granular fertilizer designed for acid-loving plants. Once or twice a year, give your holly a treat: an inch-deep mulch layer of used coffee grounds.

The tree will require some routine pruning to keep it in shape. Regularly pyramidal as young trees, they tend to become more open and irregular as they age. Some homeowners prune them to maintain a tighter shape. An American holly that has completely lost its shape can be heavily pruned, removing branches at their point of origin. Some prune hollies planted in groups into hedges. When shaping these shrubs, especially for hedges, do not cut lower branches shorter than higher ones, which would cause an inverted pyramid or vase-shape. Hollies that are narrower at the bottom than the top often lose these lower branches due to lack of sun; sometimes the whole shrub dies.

Surprisingly, December, when the plants are dormant, is the best time to prune holly. Actually you can lightly prune the tree almost any time during the year, but if you prune heavily after flowering or in summer, berry production is eliminated. Severe winter conditions, and sometimes soil deficiencies, may cause physiological problems such as sunscald and purple spot on the leaves of evergreen hollies. Winds blowing the spiny leaves together causes punctures in the foliage.

Spray holly leaves with anti-transpirant spray to protect surfaces from harsh winter sun and wind. Consider erecting a wind barrier of burlap or similar material (never use plastic!) around holly trees and shrubs that are exposed to prevailing winter winds. Spread winter mulch on the soil over the roots after the ground freezes.

Healthy American holly trees have few problems. If they do experience some stress, the insects that most often appear will be the leaf miner or scale. Leaf spot and mildew are two of the more common fungal diseases that will attack a stressed specimen.

The American holly has one more distinction probably worth mentioning. I have not taken the time to determine how many American native trees have deserved having a postage stamp published in their honor, but the American holly can boast its own. The leaves and berries were honored in a 32-cent issue in the fall of 1997. The Postal Service might be accused of taking advantage of the Christmas holidays to make a few extra bucks, but I think the American holly deserves the special attention. AF

Jeff Ball appears on NBC’s “Today Show” as a gardening expert and writes online for

Answer #2

You can’t transplant them in the winter, as they’ll die from the cold, shock to the root structure, etc. You need to wait (again) till spring time to transplant them, unless you live in an area like Florida, where winter weather is about the same as spring in most parts of the country.

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