Different Types of Holly Bushes to

15 Different Types of Holly Bushes to Enhance the Beauty of Your Garden

According to legends of Pagan rituals, the holly bush symbolizes changing seasons and a countdown to Christmas. It is considered to be the heart of mid-winter, that is on 22nd December, the day of the shortest day and longest night. It gives hope and a sweet lesson on patience.

Holly Bush holds historic and cultural significance, and today it is known to be one of the best bushes, suited for homes and landscaping. So If you want to cover your outer walls with beautiful berry-bushes as foundation plants, then you should learn about these different types of Holly Bushes.

With beautiful foliage year-round and bright-coloured berries during summer or in winter, the Holly Bush adds life to the garden. It could be used for screening purposes, and its hardy nature allows it to grow in regions with climatic differences. It is drought-tolerant and thrives well in extremely hot summers as well as frosty winters. Some of these varieties are used in making beverages and a few are toxic too. Most of the Holly Bushes belong to the Aquifoliaceae family.

Different Types of Holly Bushes and its Uses | Hotel Center
Different Types of Holly Bushes and its Uses | Hotel Center

Also Read: 20 Types of Succulent that Can Survive Winter

Holly bushes differ from each other in terms of their shape, coarse or Bushes textured leaves, the colour of their berries or the presence of spines, etc. Their diversity is their beauty. You can choose any one of these for your garden as per your liking, after all, there are 480 species of Deciduous and evergreen Holly Bushes available that are shrubs, climbers and even trees.

One thing you must know about Holly bushes is that they are dioecious, which means male and female flowers are present on different plants, so both shall be grown together. Even so, these are propagated by cuttings, not seeds. But if there is space for a single Holly bush such as in a pot, bonsai, etc, then one can adopt ‘Nellie R. Stevens,’ which originated from the cross between English holly (Ilex aquifolium) and Chinese holly (Ilex cornuta), this plant shows parthenocarpic properties, that means it can beer fruits without pollination.

Different Types of Holly Bushes

1. Canary American Holly

Common NameCanary American Holly
Scientific NameIlex opaca ‘Canary’
Plant HeightUpto 50 feet in the wild.
USDA Zone 5-9
Plant TypeTree Type
OriginEastern and Central U.S.
Canary American Holly

Canary American Holly bush is not our daily household shrub, it is one of the spiniest, and hardy shrubs that grow tall and don’t feel appealing to our eyes. It bears bright yellow berries, and even the foliage is spiny. Due to its tree-like and spiny nature, it could be used for a bird garden, shade, or a foundation plant, this feature makes it resistant to deer as well. It will take a lot of space in the garden to spread its stems. It bears beautiful white flowers that could also be used for cut flower purposes.

Canary American Holly | Facebook
Canary American Holly | Facebook

2. Silver Crown Holly

Common NameSteward’s Silver Crown Holly
Scientific NameI. opaca ‘Steward’s Silver Crown’
Plant Height25 feet in the wild.
USDA Zone5-9
Plant TypeEvergreen Shrub
OriginS. America
Silver Crown Holly

Silver Crown Holly Bush has showy variegated leaves. Outer rough boundaries are lemonade yellow and the inner portion of the leaf lamina is shiny green. People who like unique foliage beauties should adopt this plant. It is named after a nurseryman, T. Linwood Steward, of Pittman, New Jersey, who discovered this mutation in a seven-year-old American holly plant. It bears beautiful red berries that give a contrast effect to the plant. It could be used as a foundation plant, hedge or as a specimen plant.

Silver Crown Holly | Dave's Garden
Silver Crown Holly | Dave’s Garden

3. Yerba mate

Common NameYerba mate plant, maté, yerba matá, Paraguay tea, Alex paraguayensis
Scientific NameIlex paraguariensis
Plant Height5-50 feet
USDA Zone9-10
Plant TypeSubtropical Evergreen Tree
OriginSouth America
Yerba mate

Yerba Mate is a unique holly bush, it is much more popular for its beverage uses, instead for ornamental uses. Its thick green elongated leaves are infused with caffeine and widely grown for making tea. It bears small white, fragrant flowers during fall. One bottleneck of this plant is that it can’t thrive in regions receiving high rainfall, low temperature and continuous moist soil. It is best to grow Yerba Mate Holly in a well-draining pot indoors, where it can continuously receive a temperature above 60° Fahrenheit all year.

Yerba mate | rosmaninhoazevedo
Yerba mate | rosmaninhoazevedo

4. China Girl Holly

Common NameChina Girl Blue Holly
Scientific NameIlex x meserveae ‘Mesog’
Plant Height6-10 feet
USDA Zone4-9
Plant TypeEvergreen Shrub
OriginSouth Asia
China Girl Holly

The leaves of China Girl Holly Bushes are exceptionally green leaves. It bears red berries, which act as an important and favourite food for migratory birds. It has a fast-spreading tendency, so timely pruning is important in this bush. To ensure berries in this amazing bush, it is partnered with China Boy as a pollenizer. Because of its multiple benefits, this bush has a high demand on the global market. It is one of the best Holly bushes for your garden that could be used for making hedges, foundation plants, specimen plants, potting, screening, etc.

Types of Holly Bushes
China Girl Holly

5. Luster Leaf Holly

Common NameTarajo Holly, or just Tarajo, Luster Leaf Holly.
Scientific NameIlex latifolia
Plant Height15-25 feet
USDA Zone7-9
Plant TypeEvergreen Tree
OriginSouthern Japan
Luster Leaf Holly

Unlike other Holly Bushes, luster leaf Holly indeed has broad lushy leaves. The huge leaves are used to brew tea in China. The leaves are rough at corners and the plants look nothing similar to a bush. The berries of this Holly bush are not as vibrant as other Holly bushes, these are brownish or dull Red. Still, they add colours to the garden during winter.

Luster Leaf Holly | Pixies Gardens
Luster Leaf Holly | Pixies Gardens

6. Sky Pencil Japanese Holly

Common NameSky Pencil Japanese Holly
Scientific NameIlex crenata ‘Sky Pencil
Plant Height5-8 feet but grow only up to 3 feet in width
USDA Zone5-8
Plant TypeEvergreen Shrub
OriginHonshu, Japan
Sky Pencil Japanese Holly

Sky pencil is named after the appearance of its leaves that grow straight and upright, the pointed end facing towards the sky. It may look like a straight pencil out of the box, but it is not the sharpest one, it is spineless and bears dark-purple berries. It is one of the shrubs that could be grown in crowded urban areas, in parking lots, beside the roads without any disturbances and for screening purposes. They grow naturally in a unique symmetry hence it needs low maintenance. The flowers are the rewards in the growing period of these straight-head plants. It thrives best in partial shade and slightly acidic soil.

Sky Pencil Japanese Holly | Leafland

7. Drops of Gold

Common NameDrops of Gold, Japanese Holly.
Scientific NameIlex crenata ‘Japanese Holly’
Plant HeightIt can grow up to 4-8 feet.
USDA Zone5- 8
Plant TypeEvergreen Shrub.
OriginIt is native to Japan, Korea and China.
Drops of Gold

Drops of Gold as the name suggests, this holly bush bears bright yellow-green variegated leaves. The leaves and stems are spineless and black berries are another unique feature of this plant. The variation in leaf colour is observed when different intensities of sunlight are provided to it, and hence seasonal variations also occur. If it is planted in a shady area, it loses the yellow colour in its leaves and becomes more yellowish when exposure to direct sunlight increases.

The flowers of Japanese Holly are four-petaled and white, these bloom during summer and don’t have a specific scent. It is hardy and according to Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs, All holly males can pollinate any female holly if they both flower at the same time. It could be used for making hedges or a specimen tree.

Drops of Gold | pbmGarden
Drops of Gold | pbmGarden

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8. Carolina Holly

Common NameCarolina Holly, Ambiguous Winterberry, Possum Holland, etc.
Scientific NameIlex ambigua
Plant Height15-20 feet.
USDA Zone7-9
Plant TypeDeciduous Shrub
OriginSoutheast U. S
Carolina Holly

Carolina Holy is one of the widely known deciduous Holly Bush. It bears fruit during the fall and hence, doesn’t seem visually interesting. The fruit is tender and may fall easily. It is spineless and its leaves are small and light green. It is not commonly used in landscaping, but it can act as a screening plant or as a foundation plant.

Carolina Holly | iNaturalist UK
Carolina Holly | iNaturalist UK

9. Catberry

Common NameCatberry Holly, Mountain Holly.
Scientific NameIlex mucronata
Plant Height6-10 feet
USDA Zone4
Plant TypeEvergreen Medium Shrub
OriginEastern North America

Before being identified as Holly Bush. Catberry was previously known as Nemopanthus mucronatus. This holly bush is not adaptable to many regions and is like moisture-rich conditions. The bright red berries emerge at the end of the stem of this plant, which is a favourite fruit to many migratory Birds. The foliage of this plant doesn’t have spines. It could be used for making hedges or as a specimen plant.

Catberry | IPM Images

10. Common Winterberry

Common NameCommon Winterberry, Hollyberry, Fever Bush, or Swamp Bush.
Scientific Namellex verticillata
Plant Height3-15 feet
USDA Zone3-9
Plant TypeDeciduous Bush
OriginNorth America
Common Winterberry

This is not the kind of Holly bush one would like to have in their garden. The berries in this bush are toxic to both humans and animals. It looks similar to Catberry and bears similar red-coloured berries, but one needs to be careful with it. It has a rounded growth and loves moist or even in swampy conditions. There are many varieties of this plant available including, Berry Poppins, Winter Gold, Red Sprite, or Cacapon that differ by slight changes in its berries colour. Despite being toxic it is widely used for making hedges.

It has spineless, dark green leaves and bright red berries that are prevalent from winter till spring. It can tolerate high temperatures, poor drainage and dry periods and is known for its extremely hardy nature. It turns into a beautiful round-shaped specimen due to its wide-spreading habit and frequent sucker-producing tendency.

Common Winterberry | Proven Winners
Common Winterberry | Proven Winners

11. Dahoon Holly

Common NameDahoon Holly, Cassena
Scientific NameIlex cassine
Plant Height20-40 feets
USDA Zone5-10
Plant TypeSmall tree
OriginCaribbean, Eastern United States, and Mexico.
Dahoon Holly

Unlike other bushes, the Dahoon Holly bush is found in wetter and swampy areas. The leaves are dark lush green, smooth and elongated. It bears scarlet berries in mass which gives a beautiful visual effect. There are three popular varieties of Dahoon Holly:

  • Ilex cassine var. cassine.
  • Ilex cassine var. angustifolia.
  • Ilex cassine var. mexicana.
Dahoon Holly | Butterflyseed
Dahoon Holly | Butterflyseed

12. Hawaiian Holly

Common NameHawaiian Holly
Scientific NameIlex anomala
Plant Height30-40 feets
USDA Zone11-12
Plant TypeTall shrub
Hawaiian Holly

Hawaiian Holly is endemic to the Hawaii islands where it is called ʻAiea, kāwaʻu, kä‘awa‘u, or Hawai’i holly. It has smooth rounded leaves, with no spines and bears small star-shaped white flowers. It is similar to inkberry and produces purple-black berries. It is home to the happy face spider plant (Theridion grallator), which seeks safety, shade and nutrition from the shrub.

Hawaiian Holly | Flickr
Hawaiian Holly | Flickr

13. Variegated English Holly

Common NameVariegated English Holly
Scientific NameIlex aquifolium ‘Argentea Marginata’
Plant Height15-40 feets
USDA Zone7-9
Plant TypeSpiny Wood
OriginNative to Europe and England
Variegated English Holly

The leaves of English Variegated English Holly are lush green with a greyish-white or yellow border. It is highly demanded for its foliage beauty. These thrive best in slightly acidic soil, they can tolerate drought conditions but are sensitive to chilly winters. Due to its unique foliage and spiny stem, it is used in Christmas greenery arrangements, as a foundation plant, specimen plant, etc. The plant contains Saponin, which makes it toxic to humans on ingestion. It bears pink to white flowers in spring and red berries in winter.

Variegated English Holly | Buckingham Nurseries
Variegated English Holly | Buckingham Nurseries

14. Bordeaux Yaupon Holly

Common NameBordeaux Holly
Scientific NameIlex vomitoria ‘Bordeaux’
Plant Height2-3 feet
USDA Zone7-9
Plant TypeDwarf Evergreen Bushes
OriginEastern United States and Mexico.
Bordeaux Yaupon Holly

The young and winter foliage of this bush are Burgundy tinted, these turn greyish-white as the plant matures, which is why it is called as Bordeaux Holly. It is wood, broad-leaved and bears scarlet berries. It is highly valued for its mounted form. The leaves and stems of these bushes have fine spineless leaves. It can be used for making Bonsai, hedge or a specimen Plant. In addition, Bordeaux Yaupon HollyBush is highly tolerant to drought and saline conditions.

New Garden Landscaping & Nursery | Bordeaux Yaupon Holly
New Garden Landscaping & Nursery | Bordeaux Yaupon Holly

15. Inkberry Holly

Common NameInkberry holly, Gallberry, Appalachian tea.
Scientific NameIlex glabra
Plant Height5-10 feet
USDA Zone4-11
Plant TypeBush
OriginNorth America
Inkberry Holly

Inkberry Holly is a broad-leaved upward-growing shrub. ‘Inkberry’ as the name suggests, has dark purple or black berries which are highly toxic to humans and pets. However, ‘The Ivory Queen’ and ‘Leucocarpa’ bear white berries, hence they are not favourable for domestication. And as the genus ‘glabra’ suggests, it has smooth round leaves. It bears small white flowers. As this bush has invasive growing habits, heavy pruning is suggested in its care. It is highly drought tolerant, but extremely sensitive to water logging, which means it likes dry feet most of the time.

Inkberry Holly | Gardener's Path
Inkberry Holly | Gardener’s Path


Fruit-bearing bushes are one of the best hedge-making plants, the contrast and liveliness they create in the garden is incomparable to any other plant. In this article, we came to know about such different types of holly bushes. The diversity of these bushes must have given you many ideas about the selection and adoption of these plants. Although you need a ‘his’ with ‘hers’ to grow berries for fruit bearing and seeds, yet, the results are equally satisfying.

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