Blue Holly – Tough & Beautiful

Plantings · Written by Roger


blue hollyMeserve Hybrid Hollies

This is a group of hybridized hollies.  They were developed by “crossing” other holly types to produce cold-hardy plants with beautiful foliage – 2 noble goals.

The term blue holly represents several hollies within the Meserve Holly group.  I do have my favorites, but each one has its own beauty especially when sited correctly.  By sited correctly I mean planted in favorable conditions for that particular plant.

The blue holly group is certainly cold hardy.  In fact,  as far north as into parts of zone 4.  Certain varieties have been found to be a bit more cold-hardy than others.  For example, Blue Maid Holly (pictured above) is considered one of the hardiest.

Note: Even though blue holly is cold hardy, I would still spray them with an anti-transpirant as an added measure of winter protection.  Any broadleaf evergreen will suffer winter burn if conditions are right, such as frozen ground, winter sun and wind.

blue hollyIn the south (e.g. zones 7 – 9) they generally don’t fair as well as in colder climates.  If you’re in those zones consider planting where they’ll get some afternoon shade.

Form and Growth Habit

Blue holly’s mature form is either pyramidal or upright and rounded.  When healthy (this goes back to “siting correctly”) it is a dense evergreen.  The leaves are glossy and almost blue-green.  There are fine, spiny teeth on the leaf edges – but not as pronounced as those on American Holly.

Blue holly varieties are dioecious, meaning there are male and female plants.  If you want the female to produce berries you’ll need a male holly nearby (at least within 300 ft.).

blue holly 'blue princess'What Blue Holly Likes (and doesn’t like)

Generally, they like full sun.  They will get thinner with less light, which in a “natural” setting can be acceptable.

Blue holly adapts to different soil types, but avoid planting in poorly drained soil.  Plants that are in heavy wet clay can, for example, weaken and become predisposed to disease like Phytophthora.

As far as pruning goes, I trim them selectively with hand pruners.  Of course large hedges can be done with shears to be more practical and productive.

How Do They “Work” In The Landscape?

When I say this plant is versatile in planting design, I’m not kidding.

The top picture shows blue holly as a hedge.  Is that beautiful or what?  Notice the space this hedge has to grow forward – very smart.  You could plant a groundcover or low perennial in that open space while the holly continues to grow.

The picture to the right shows a blue holly used as a single plant in a mixed garden.  It offers year round interest with its deep, rich color and texture.

I have also used blue holly as a screen plant to hide utilites.  In the border garden it masses nicely in groups of any number (they say always work in “odd” numbers).  There you can arrange them in a stagger and let them grow together naturally.  For foundation plantings it makes an excellent corner plant either by itself or in a grouping.

As always (I’ll bet you know what I’m going to say) space blue holly appropriately.  They have the potential to get 8 – 10′ high and 6 – 8′ wide.

Here are some of the blue holly varieties you’ll probably come across:

  • ‘Blue Angel’
  • ‘Blue Boy’
  • ‘Blue Girl’
  • ‘Blue Maid’
  • ‘Blue Prince’
  • ‘Blue Princess’
  • ‘Blue Stallion’
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    113 Responses to “Blue Holly – Tough & Beautiful”

    1. Leslie Says:

      I’m looking for a pollinator for a Dragon Lady holly. Does the bloom period of Blue Prince reliably overlap the bloom period of this female holly or should I look for Blue Stallion? The latter is more difficult to find.

    2. Zoe Says:

      Have learned a lot from your responses regarding hollies and am wondering if you could suggest some good dwarf or very slow growing evergreens for a zone 4 (north central Indiana) with our typical soil that has to be amended to keep it from being so heavy. We have to re-landscape the eastern and north eastern side of our home and I’m wanting trees and shrubs that keep their leaves/needles all year but don’t get too terribly tall. Can you advise?
      Thanks so much.

    3. Roger Says:

      Great question — and I wish I had the answer. :-(

      Dragon Lady blooms in May, but I’m not sure whether it’s early or later in the month. The blue hollies flower in late April and into May. You mentioned Blue Stallion, and rightfully so because of the blue holly males it has the longest period of flowering.

      You could wait till May and watch when your Dragon Lady blooms and then visit local nurseries to check out the various blue holly males and see if any are in sync.

      Wish I could be more helpful. Could you come back and comment again to let us know what you determined?

    4. Roger Says:

      To find good plant candidates for your specific area I’ll tell you what I did this year when asked to design in an area I was not familiar with.

      And this area was only 15 miles or so from the towns I typically work in. But I did not know the soil type(s) or the plants resistant to deer grazing. And believe me when I tell you that deer grazing favorites definitely vary depending on the area. What deer will destroy in one area, they might not touch in another.

      I visited the area/neighborhood and drove around observing plant types and how they were doing. I ended up with a list of plants that were consistently doing well.

      By doing this in your area you’ll get absolute examples of plants that have adapted and are doing well. You’ll get ideas of plants you may have not considered — and you’ll see their shape and growth habit. This will give you ideas as to how they might work in your design. If possible, try to realize the exposure these plants are in so you can relate that to your eastern and NE sides of your home. Take pictures and bring them to your local garden centers and nurseries for identification. You can then look up the plants for their particulars (e.g. mature size, flowering, etc.).

    5. Debbie Says:

      Hello Roger :
      In regards to the blue holly male, ‘ Blue Stallion ‘, like Leslie I am having a hard time finding who sells them near me. You guys always have great suggestions for plants but then we consumers try to find them and it’s like pulling teeth ! I live in Collegeville, PA (near Norristown) and would like to know of a nursery/place that sells this variety.

      Thank you for your help !

    6. Roger Says:

      I feel your pain. We all get frustrated sometimes trying to locate particular plants. I frequently have to come up with substitutions on jobs because of availability.

      There are many plant varieties out there, with new ones being created all the time. And unlike manufactured goods, all these plants need to be propagated and grown for years before they’re ready for market. The nursery growers are constantly trying to anticipate market need and desire, and then initiate the “propagation/grow” cycle for those plants.

      Unfortunately, I can’t know what’s available (or will be available) in your area. When I’m searching for particular plants for my jobs, I call the nurseries and garden centers in my service area and check current availability and whether they’re able to find the plant(s) for me. Your local nurseries and garden centers have their sources — and should be willing to do some searching on your behalf.

    7. Kathryn Batt Says:


      Have you tried Primex Garden Center, Glenside, PA?

    8. Pat Says:

      I just bought what was labeled Jack and Jill blue holly (ilex x meserveae) but when I googled it I could only find one reference for it on a website that only gave the minimal info that was on the plant tag. I am beginning to wonder if I can rely on the accuracy of the label information. It is said to be 1 to 2 meters high and 1.5 meters wide. Does anyone have any experience with this holly? Also, It appears to have two plants in the pot. Does the name indicate there is a male and female plant together in the pot? If this is the case, do I plant them as they are in the pot or space them as two separate plants with a few meters between them?

    9. Roger Says:

      I’m afraid I’m not familiar with Jack and Jill blue holly. And I also was unable to find information online other than it exists and you do need the male and female for berries. It seems to me that if the two (Jack & Jill) are planted together, they are meant to stay that way. Plus, it would be detrimental to them both to disturb their intermingled root systems and try to separate them. I wish I could be more helpful.

    10. Eric Morse Says:

      What is the difference in the blue maid and blue princess varieties?

    11. Roger Says:

      Blue Maid and Blue Princess are very similar in almost every respect. I have read that Blue Princess could be considered hardier, but it’s negligible.

    12. Hazel j Losli Says:

      I have a space 36 ” wide and 12′ long in front of a picket fence. I’m thinking of planting a blue holly in the midst of peonies, sages knock out roses and iris. Is there a small type of blue holly that would work?

    13. Roger Says:

      The blue holly varieties mature too large for the limited space you have.

      You might want to take a look at ‘Dragon Lady’ Holly. It does get tall, but stays rather narrow (4-6′ wide).

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