Possumhaw Holly hits the big time
Those of us who grew up in Texas have known this plant all of our lives. It’s native to the eastern third of the state where it graces hillsides with its bright orange-red berries all winter. Let me tell you about it.
What you’ll want to know…
• Possumhaw holly (Ilex decidua)
• Deciduous shrub to 12 to 15 ft. tall and 8 to 10 ft. wide. Can form thickets of greater width.
• Native along and east of I-35 through most of East Texas.
• Does best in full sun, although it tolerates morning sun and afternoon shade quite well.
• Plants are either male (produce pollen only) or female (produce fruit).
• Berries are slightly larger than BBs.
• Color will vary, but generally orange-red to red.
• Variety ‘Warren’s Red’ was introduced because it produces abundant crops of vivid tomato-red berries each winter. Fruit colors up in November and remains showy until spring. That variety is also less likely to send up root sprouts. The advantage of buying a labeled Warren’s Red plant is that you will be sure that you’re getting a female, fruit-producing specimen.
• Few problems bother possumhaw hollies – generally only a form of tent caterpillar that is easily controlled with an insecticide or by pulling the webs apart with a stick or piece of wire.
• Possumhaw hollies are best used in home landscapes as corner and entryway accent plants, much as we would use tree-form crape myrtles or yaupon hollies.
• Possumhaws are available at better independent retail garden centers in containers ranging from 5 gallons to 50 gallons in size.