Evergreen hollies are easy to grow, succeeding on most soils. They dislike waterlogged conditions and heavy clay, but need some soil moisture to thrive, so are rarely at their best on dry, chalk soils and seem to prefer neutral to acid conditions. Best planted as young, container-grown plants at any time of year, although ideally in autumn or early spring. Occasionally, Ilex aquifolium, if used for hedging, is planted as small, bare-root plants.
Hollies grow in sun or part-shade and are useful subjects to plant under the light shade of deciduous trees. They can be grown as longterm shrubs for pots and containers, if planted in loam-based growing medium. Remember to feed annually with a slow-release fertiliser and water regularly. Their hardy constitution means they are suitable for open, exposed situations and most can tolerate coastal air.
The evergreen types are versatile shrubs, which respond well to pruning and clipping, most making excellent subjects for hedging, topiary and training as standards. Hedges and topiary are usually clipped in late summer. Old, untrained plants can become straggly with long trailing shoots with a few leaves near the tips. These can be successfully rejuvenated by cutting back hard in spring.
Variegated hollies occasionally produce plain-green shoots, known as reversion. This growth should be cut out as soon as possible. It is more vigorous than the variegated plant, so can soon take over. Like all evergreens, hollies shed old leaves in summer. This is especially noticeable if the weather is hot and dry and leaf drop is sudden. Rarely cause for concern, this is merely part of the growing cycle.