ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Planting & Fertilizing Chinese Holly

Updated on December 14, 2017
TeriSilver profile image

Teri Silver is a journalist, commercial copywriter, editor, broadcast anchor, and Public Relations Specialist.

Ilex Cornuta
Ilex Cornuta

Chinese Holly

Chinese Holly (Ilex cornuta) shrubs vary in height but many cultivars grow from about 6 to 10 feet tall and are best used for hedges, screens and groundcover. Thick dark-green or green-yellow leaves are mostly oblong, stiff and somewhat spiny -- growing 1½ to 4 inches long. Bushes sprout small, off-white flowers and orange-red berries that attract birds and other wildlife.

Popular Chinese Holly cultivars include: ‘Anicet Delcambre’ (also known as ‘Needlepoint’) with thin, glossy dark-green leaves; ‘Burfordii’ (20 - 25 feet high); ‘Carissa’ (3 - 4 feet high); ‘Dwarf Burford’ (5 - 8 feet high); ‘Berries Jubilee’ (6 - 10 feet high with large leaves and fruit clusters inside the canopy) and ‘Rotunda’ (3-4 feet high).

Habitat and Soil

Native to Asia but popular in America, Chinese Holly shrubs grow best in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 to 9 (zero to 30 degrees Fahrenheit for low temperatures). Bushes thrive in deep, well-drained, sandy loam soil and in full sunlight or partial shade.

The soil’s pH balance may be neutral to slightly acidic; 6.0 to 7.0. Test the pH before planting; you can add 8 ounces of lime per bushel if the soil is too acidic. For deeply rooted hollies, mix in equal parts of peat moss and sand to help even the soil’s pH balance.

Organic Fertilizers

Composted leaves, bone meal, fish emulsion, cotton seed meal and seaweed produce organic fertilizers. Some, such as rock phosphate and limestone, do not come from living organisms but are just as effective. Using organic fertilizers in gardens is better for the environment and may decrease the amount of nutrient runoff into local water sources, notes University of Maryland’s Cooperative Extension. However, products are expensive and soil must be tested frequently.

Chemical Fertilizer
Chemical Fertilizer

Chemical Fertilizers

Synthetic (chemical or inorganic) fertilizers are typically less expensive than organic brands because they are more readily available. Commercially-produced fertilizers contain the six macronutrients required for a healthy feeding; nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, magnesium and calcium. Other elements include zinc, chlorine, molybdenum, boron, manganese, copper and iron. Chemical fertilizers dissolve more quickly than organic feeders, allowing shrubs to absorb nutrients into their roots faster.

10-10-10 NPK
10-10-10 NPK

Fertilizing Chinese Holly

Fertilizers provide plants with three major macronutrients; nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Feed your Chinese Holly with a 10-10-10 (NPK) fertilizer once yearly, either in the early spring or late autumn – the amount needed depends on the size of the bush. For example, a three-foot holly may require 1½ pounds of fertilizers. Follow packaging instructions to ensure that you do not use too much chemical on the shrub because overfeeding can damage the plant’s roots. After fertilizing, protect the soil with mulch around the base of the shrub.

Chemical imbalance, root rot,  fungal pathogens and insects may lead to yellowing foliage and leaf drop.
Chemical imbalance, root rot, fungal pathogens and insects may lead to yellowing foliage and leaf drop.


Leaf-yellowing, or chlorosis, may develop on Chinese Holly plants if soil pH is too high or the shrub is not absorbing enough nitrogen into its root system. To help summer’s yellowing foliage become green; apply a 10-5-5 fertilizer and water thoroughly. Foliage may also become a problem in dry, windy climates – especially if no other shrubs are planted near the holly bush. Young Chinese Holly cultivars and hybrids are susceptible to drying out.

Waxy Scale on Ilex
Waxy Scale on Ilex | Source

Insects and Disease

Chinese Holly attracts “waxy” scale insects which look like large, white, sticky drops of wax. These bugs drop wax on the branches, about a ½ in diameter. Apply dissolved malathion to the shrub’s branches for pest control. Chinese hollies are not prone to many diseases although they can develop root rot and leafscald (scorch). Control root rot by sterilizing the soil and removing other diseased plants. Replant the holly in a partially-shaded area if it has scorched leaves.

Also …

Although nice to look at, holly berries are toxic to humans and pets -- do not eat them. Chinese holly is an evergreen but some Ilex cultivars are deciduous female and male plants. To produce berries in the pointed green foliage, plant one male shrub for every 5 to 10 females, advises University of Rhode Island Extension. Plants must be compatible and bloom simultaneously to exchange pollen.

© 2013 Teri Silver


Submit a Comment
  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 

    7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

    Thanks for the useful details and the practical information about growing Chinese Holly. It's a beautiful plant!


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)