Yaupon holly, also simply called “yaupon“, is a shrub that has been planted in homes along the Gulf of Mexico and the lower Atlantic coast.
Yaupon Holly key facts
Name – Ilex vomitoria
Family – Ilex (holly)
Type – evergreen
Exposure – part sun or full
Soil – either wet or dry
Height – 3 or 4 up to 30 feet
(1 to 10 meters, depends on type)
Yaupon holly is a fabulous berry shrub that will attract birds to your garden. They will thank you with pleasant singsong from October to March!
How to plant yaupon holly
Yaupon holly is very easy to plant. In spring (or fall as a second choice):
- No special amendment is needed, even in poor, sandy soil.
- Dig a hole about twice the size of the root clump.
- Spread the roots out along the bottom (delicately if possible) and backfill with garden soil.
In very heavy soils that are always wet, you might want to ensure drainage with either gravel or clay pebbles along the bottom of the hole, but that’s only in extreme cases when the soil is constantly waterlogged.
For different purposes, it’s best to select the right type of yaupon holly – it will reduce maintenance.
Planting yaupon holly in a pot
- Dwarf yaupon holly is best. There are several varieties to choose from.
- As long as drainage is ensured, any container will do.
- This species is regularly grown as a bonsai, it’s easy as long as you don’t let it dry out!
Planting yaupon holly in a hedge or shrub bed
Caring for yaupon holly
Yaupon holly doesn’t require much care at all, especially when it’s planted in full earth.
- As for many newly planted shrubs, water your yaupon holly during the first year.
- After that, heat waves are the only time you’ll need to water it.
Planted in pots, a yaupon holly needs repotting every three years at most (two is best to replenish soil nutrients). Fertilize in the second and third year with normal shrub fertilizer. Avoid fertilizer that contains too much nitrogen, since it might burn the roots.
- Red or yellow berries attract birds – take note not to let a colony settle down in a single tree! The birds might lead to nitrogen poisoning on the tree!
Trimming yaupon holly and pruning it
Growth is slow on yaupon holly, somewhat similar to that of boxwood.
- Prune once a year in spring if growing it in a pot on a terrace or patio.
- If planted in the ground, it’s enough to trim your yaupon holly every two years.
How to prune yaupon holly into topiary shapes
- If you’re aiming for topiary shapes with yaupon holly, prune twice a year.
- Spring is when you shape the yaupon holly most
- Early fall is simply a light trimming to keep a nice shape over winter.
Multiplying and propagating yaupon holly
Yaupon holly easily spreads naturally, but you can also propagate your favorite shrub yourself.
Yaupon holly seeds
It’s always a bet whether the seed you’ll grow will closely resemble the variety that produced it. Indeed, yaupon holly can cross-pollinate among many of its varieties, both dwarf and tall, weeping or straight.
Yaupon holly root shoots
Yaupon will send up shoots from roots, wherever they’re uncovered or when the main trunk is very vigorous.
Once a shoot is about a foot tall, you can sever the root with a sharp spade. Transplant the clump either to a pot or to a new location.
Yaupon holly cuttings
- In fall, select 8-inch (15 cm) cuttings from semi-hardened yaupon holly wood (grown since spring).
- Remove all leaves except for a few at the tip.
- If you’ve got rooting hormone, you can dip the cuttings in it. Try Aloe vera for that.
- Plant the cuttings in a mix of sand and soil mix.
- Roots should start developing within two to three months.
Grafting yaupon holly
If ever you’ve nurtured a yaupon holly from seed, and it turns out to be male, you won’t get any berries from it. You don’t need to pull it out entirely – make the best of the already strong root system and graft it with a female branch!
Yaupon holly pests and diseases
It’s highly resistant to disease. Only extreme weather will weaken it to the point of letting fungus in. If that is the case, you may have to fend off black spot, powdery mildew, and whitefly insects.
It bounces back in no time even after drastic hat rack pruning.
All in all, you’ll never worry about how to save your yaupon holly. And if you’re growing a dwarf variety, you won’t even need to think about it at all for years on end!
Types of yaupon holly
Two types of yaupon holly can easily be found in garden stores, these are either “dwarf yaupon” or regular yaupon.
- Dwarf yaupon grow slowly and are well suited to growing in containers, pots, and to form low hedges or edges in shrub beds.
- Regular yaupon can be trimmed somewhat to form taller hedges, but generally they’re best either as a standalone to a side of the lawn or as a natural, free-growing hedge towards the edge of a property.
Here are a few yaupon holly cultivars or varieties
- Click to reach a short list with a description of dwarf yaupon holly varieties
- And here you’ll find taller yaupon holly varieties
Diseases and pests found on yaupon holly
Diseases that infect yaupon holly
There are only few diseases that will attack this shrub. Moreover, they will only attack the plant when vulnerable and weakened. For example, overwatering will stress the plant and lead to root rot.
- Anthracnose – leaves are spotted and drop off.
- Fusarium wilt – leaves are covered in large spots and wilt away.
For both of these leaf fungus diseases, the best solution is to avoid wetting leaves when watering. Cutting off infected leaves will keep fungus spores from maturing and spreading.
Diseases yaupon holly is resistant to
Yaupon holly doesn’t get infected by any strand of Septoria fungus.
Learn more about yaupon holly
All the varieties of yaupon holly have small, shiny, rich green leaves. Their oval shape and slight round-toothed edge make them a favorite to weave Christmas wreaths. Bright red or yellow berries match the season well, too! Pair arrangements together with regular holly for a great combination.
Smart tip about yaupon holly
Yaupon holly tends to grow several trunks at once, like lilac. Select one and cut all others away to help it grow like a tree.