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

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Monday - October 11, 2010

From: Springfield, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Transplants, Shrubs
Title: Moving a volunteer holly from Springfield IL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

When would be the very best time to move a volunteer holly? I would say it is 3 years old, it stands about 5 feet tall, shaped like a very nice tree and it keeps its leaves. Thank you. Karen

ANSWER:

There are 13 members of the genus Ilex (holly) native to North America, and 4 native to Illinois. We determined that Sangamon County, in Central Illinois, is in USDA Hardiness Zone 5b. We like to start by trying to determine which holly you might be referring to.

We first looked at Ilex opaca (American holly) , which is shown in this USDA Plant Profile as being native only to one county in southwest Illinois. This could be out-of-date information or might be a reflection of the soils. The next one we considered was Ilex verticillata (Common winterberry), but this USDA Plant Profile still does not show it growing near you. So, we are going to assume that if it was a volunteer, it will grow there, and just give you some transplanting information.

This article from Sandy's Garden, Moving a Holly Bush gives the information probably much more clearly than we could. If your soil freezes in the Winter, we would definitely recommend that you do your transplanting in the early Spring, as the soil begins to warm. Whatever you do, prepare the hole for the rootball in advance, making it larger than the rootball and working in compost for drainage.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Ilex opaca


Ilex verticillata

 

 

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