En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
11 ratings

Saturday - April 24, 2010

From: Goldsboro, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Correcting overgrown Savannah holly in Goldsboro NC
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have an overgrown Savannah Holly. How do I go about correcting?


Savannah Holly is a trade name for Ilex x attenuata which is an older selection of a cross between North American native hollies Ilex cassine (dahoon) and Ilex opaca (American holly). Notice the "x" in the center of the Latin name, that means it is a cross or hybrid. We have no hybrids in our Native Plant Database, but will try to find some general information on pruning this particular holly.

This Floridata website says it can be grown as a large pyrimidal shrub or a small tree. You can also get some ideas of how this holly can be shaped by looking at these images from Google.  From a gardening Know How website, we found an article How to Prune Holly Bushes. From About.Com: Landscaping we excerpted the following paragraph from their article Winter Landscaping and Holly Plant:

"To give your holly a shape of your own choosing, prune back the tips of the current season's growth in late summer, autumn, or winter. If you have an old holly plant on your landscape which you wish to rejuvenate, Bunting has some tips on pruning holly shrubs. Bunting advises that you "'hat rack' it in late winter by cutting back the branches by half to three-quarters of their length. The remaining plant will have few leaves and look like a hat rack, but in spring it will flush out with new foliage from all the pruning cuts. In two to three years, it will be fully covered in leaves. Hat racking will result in a plant much reduced in size, but still full of foliage."

As far as we are concerned, that comes as close to the practical advice you are wanting. You are not going to get overnight results, but if your holly is overgrown and shapeless, you will eventually attain the look you have in mind. 



More Shrubs Questions

Trees and shrubs for Rockwall, TX
April 13, 2011 - Hi! I've been advised to contact you regarding my dilemma. Please rsvp asap. I'm ready to plant. 1)I have a small backyard with full, hot, Dallas sun and cold winters, many times below freezing. ...
view the full question and answer

Need plants to provide a privacy screen in Cedar Creek, TX
March 31, 2015 - We need to screen out neighbor's house. What can we plant (fast growing tree or hedge) in partial shade? Area is dry in summer, but does get soggy during heavy rain. We live east of Austin in Cedar C...
view the full question and answer

Smoky Mountains Shaded Slope Plant Suggestions
April 29, 2013 - We live in a very shady spot in Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina. We would like to plant vegetation on a sloped area behind our cottage to stop erosion after building an addition. Our h...
view the full question and answer

Plants that will grow in clay in North Carolina
March 14, 2008 - I have a small fenced back yard, predominately hard red clay, that is a major focal point. I am designing my own garden/yard area (to cut cost) and have a list of plants that will grow in this soil w...
view the full question and answer

Could lilacs grow in Georgia?
April 27, 2010 - Hi Mr Smarty Pants, First off, I want to commend you on your promotion of native plants. I am passionately anti-invasive plants (in fact, it was the subject of my master's thesis). That being said...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center