How to Grow the Variegated Holly

Variegated Holly

Warning: The faux berries are a choking hazard. Keep this plant out of reach of children under age 3.

Care Upon Arrival

The holly is adorned with faux red berries and arrives in a festive, compostable pot made from grain husks. The pot lasts about five years before it begins to biodegrade. We recommend placing a drip tray underneath the pot to protect furniture.

Upon arrival, check the soil around the roots to make sure it’s moist. If it’s dry, water the soil until it’s thoroughly moist but not soggy.

Do not let the soil dry out at any time. Keep the potted plant in a sunny location. The plant can remain indoors or be moved outdoors after all danger of frost has passed. Slowly acclimate the plant to outdoor conditions by placing it in a sheltered location (light shade, out of the wind) for a few weeks before moving it to a partially sunny location.

When roots begin to grow out of the bottom of the container it’s time to repot. Choose a container (with drainage holes) that is an inch or two larger in diameter than the current pot.

Planting Instructions

Holly require fertile, loamy soil, some shade, and grow best in a humid atmosphere in zones 4 to 9. Dig a hole twice as wide but only as deep as the root ball of the tree. Unless your soil is extremely sandy, it’s usually recommended that you situate a tree so the top of the root ball is an inch or so above the surrounding soil; when you backfill with soil, you want to create a gentle slope away from the trunk to minimize problems with rot.

The planting hole should be large enough to allow the entire root system to be covered. Set the plant into the planting hole at the same depth it was growing in the nursery.(You should be able to see a soil line around the stem, which will indicate how deep the stem was planted in the nursery.) Loosen the root system and position the plant so that the uppermost roots will be covered with soil. Be careful not to let the roots dry out during the planting process. After planting, pack the soil back in firmly around the roots and water thoroughly, until the soil cannot readily absorb any more water.


We recommend a thick layer of straw, compost, sawdust, aged manure, or other organic material to reduce weed growth and help conserve moisture. As it slowly decays, mulch also provides nutrients for the plant. Mulch should be kept at least one to two inches away from the base of the plant to discourage insects or rodents from damaging the bark.


Once the Holly has been planted and watered well, it will not usually need much water until it begins growing vigorously in the spring. Thorough watering encourages deeper root growth, making the plant less susceptible to drought stress. Water more frequently during dry weather.


Do not apply fertilizer in late summer or fall. This could stimulate new growth that could become injured during winter. In the spring, we recommend using a balanced, slow-release fertilizer for overall plant health such as our 5-5-5 All- Purpose Fertilizer.

Last updated: 01/05/2021