Plant of the Month: December 2015

Yaupon Holly

Ilex vomitoria

YauponHolly_WSYaupon Holly makes a great specimen tree.  And if your not sure what a specimen tree is, it's a tree that will grow about 20’-25' tall. Specimen trees are also referred to as ornamental trees.  Crape Myrtle, Rose of Sharon, Vitex and Lilac trees are some of the more popular ornamental or specimen trees used in landscapes. Ornamental trees are used to draw attention to a certain area or highlight an architectural features.  But they are most commonly used to add height to certain areas in the landscape like corners of a home.

There are two good reasons to use Yaupon Holly tree in your landscape and they are…

First reason is that it is native to most of the south-eastern part of the United States.  It is very adaptable to most landscape conditions.  It does well in the Houston area where soils are more acidic and it rains. It does equally well in the Austin/Hill Country where soils are more alkaline and drought is an ongoing condition.

The second reason I love this tree is for winter color.  The berries are bright red, spectacular and a much needed source of color when all else is dormant in the winter months. I love to cut several branches At Christmas time to add to my wreaths or any Christmas arrangements and the berries will last the entire Christmas season. The berries also attract wildlife and provide food for some of the birds.

yaupon_featuredFemale varieties are the only trees that will produce berries so make sure you are getting a female tree.  I think it is best to buy in the spring when you can see the blooms of the small white flowers or in the winter when you can see the berries on the trees.

Yaupon Holly is an evergreen tree with small shiny green leaves without the typical spines that most Holly trees have. If left natural it will look more like a large shrub but most are trained into a multi-trunk trees.  They can get rather wide at about 10’-15’ across, so if you use them close to your home make sure you leave plenty of space for them to grow, however, they are easy to keep trimmed.

They will grow in sun or shade and look good in gardens that are formal or natural. There are many shrubs that are compatible with the Yaupon Holly so don't be afraid to add the very hardy ornamental tree to your landscape design and enjoy the benefits of a Yaupon Holly year around.