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Tuesday - January 12, 2010

From: Elkton , MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Transplants, Trees
Title: Transplanting Hollies in winter
Answered by: Anne Bossart


I want to transplant, relocate holly trees in January. Is that ok, and what is the best holly for landscaping?


There is a saying in your part of the country that you can plant (or transplant)  trees in any month that has the letter "r" in it's name.  So January should be fine ... but aren't you buried in snow right now?

Fall is actually the best time to plant trees.  The warm soil and cool air give the plant a chance to regenerate roots while the transpirational demands on the leaves are not too great.  Winter dormancy then gives the tree a chance to get ready for the next growing season.  Early spring is the next best ... again the tree has a chance to establish before meeting the demands of summer.

That being said, as long as the soil is workable, you can plant or transplant a tree.  If the ground is not frozen and you take a handful of soil, and cannot squeeze water out of it, it is workable. So you will have to make the decision of whether it is ok in your garden, this January, or not.

You do not mention what type of holly "trees" you are hoping to move or how large they are. I suspect that since you refer to them as trees you are referring to Ilex opaca (American holly) which is evergreen and the plant most people think of when they use the term holly.  I would advise against transplanting an evergreen at this time of year as, if the weather gets cold later in the winter when the sun is stronger, the roots will not be able to provide enough water to the leaves and they will suffer from winter burn.  Also, the larger the tree, the greater the chance that it will not survive being transplanted.

There are other hollies that are native to your area which are great landscape plants. They are shrubs and very attractive for natural areas.  Remember that all hollies are dioecious, which means that the male and female flower parts occur on two different plants, so if you want berries (on the female plants only) you must have a male plant (which will flower but not produce berries) within the flight distance of a pollinator.

We recommend:

Ilex glabra (inkberry)

Ilex verticillata (common winterberry) (which is deciduous and particularly attrtactive after its leaves have fallen)

Ilex opaca

Ilex opaca

Ilex glabra

Ilex glabra

Ilex verticillata

Ilex verticillata

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