How to Grow Ilex - Planting & Caring

By Sharon & Team   /   Trees Category   /   2022

Ilex, or holly, is a genus of 400 to 600 species of flowering plants in the family Aquifoliaceae, and the only living genus in that family. The species are evergreen or deciduous trees, shrubs, and climbers from tropics to temperate zones worldwide.

How to Grow Ilex - Planting & Caring

Growing Easiness

Is it easy to grow Ilex plant? When it comes to growing ilex inside your home, it is considered to be a fairly complex plant. This is because ilex plants need a lot of bright, indirect light in order to grow properly. If you do not have a lot of light in your home, then you may need to supplement the light with grow lights. Additionally, ilex plants need to be watered regularly, but they do not like to sit in water, so make sure that you are using a well-draining pot.

Plant Size

How big can it be? Unless specified, Ilex plants are generally a medium size shrub. They can range anywhere from 1.8m in height/width and more, depending on the species and cultivar. They are generally an easy plant to maintain and are known to be drought tolerant once established. Ilex can be pruned to shape as needed and make for a great hedge or topiary plant.

Growth Rate

How fast is the growth? The Ilex, or holly, is an evergreen shrub that can grow to be about 15 feet tall. It has dark green, spiny leaves and red berries. The Ilex is native to Europe, Asia, and North America.

Ilex Basic Knowledge

Plant Form Tree
Family Aquifoliaceae
Origin Western and Southern Europe, North-West Africa, South-West Asia

Lifespan, Perennial or Annuals

How long is the lifespan? Eventually, all plants come to the end of their lives. Some plants, such as annuals, only live for one growing season before they die. Other plants, such as perennials, live for several years. The lifespan of a perennial plant depends on the species of plant. Some species of perennial plants can live for decades, while others only live for a few years. The age of a perennial plant also affects its lifespan. Older plants are more likely to die than younger plants. There are many factors that can affect the lifespan of a perennial plant, such as disease, pests, and weather.

Ideal Temperature

What is the ideal temperature? Since it prefers cooler temperatures, no higher than +69.8°F, the minimum temperature a plant can withstand is +59°F. At high temperatures, holly requires more moisture. So, it needs a cool wintering, otherwise it can only grow in an apartment.


What about the humidity? Because of the high leaves, the ilex cannot do without moisture. They spray the leaves every day, in the morning and in the evening. In the summer, the ilex is sprayed not less than 60%.

Light Requirement

What amount of light this plant needed? The Ilex, also known as the holly plant, is a popular plant for both indoor and outdoor decoration. Though the plant does best in bright, diffused light, it will also tolerate some amount of direct sun, especially the variegated forms.

Soil Composition

What is good soil for Ilex? When planting Ilex crenata in pots, it is necessary to take into account that the plant belongs to the category of light-requiring crops, therefore, a pot with a hole should be used for planting. The soil for Ilex crenata should be loose, breathable and fertile. You can prepare the soil for planting Ilex crenata yourself, taking in equal parts: turf ground, peat, humus, leaf land and coarse sand or perlite. The pH of the soil for Ilex should be in the range of 5.5-7.

Watering Time

How much I must water Ilex? Eventually, the Ilex will require less water as it becomes established. The best way to know if your Ilex needs water is to check the soil. The soil should be moist but not soggy. If the soil is dry, the Ilex needs water.

Fertilizing and Nutritient

About fertilizer. If you want your Ilex plants to really thrive, you should feed them every two weeks from April to September 1 with a liquid fertilizer. Just be careful not to use a fertilizer with too high a concentration of nitrogen, as this can actually be harmful to the plants.


How to reproduce Ilex? The Ilex, or holly, is a flowering plant that produces berries. The plant can reproduce by seed or vegetatively, but propagation by seed is difficult. Stratification, or the process of subjecting the seeds to moist, cool conditions for a period of time, is necessary for seed propagation. The seeds must be placed in a moist cotton wool or gauze, wrapped in plastic, and then placed in the refrigerator several times. The seeds of the holly germinate quite hard, therefore vegetative reproduction by cuttings is preferable. Use cuttings about 7.5-10 cm long, which are germinated in the autumn, pre-treated with hormones, in a mixture of peat and sand. Germinate at a temperature of 64,4 ° F usually for 40-80 days.


Why Ilex won't bloom? The reason why both male and female plants are necessary is because Ilex (holly) is dioecious. This term means that there are separate male and female plants. The male plant produces pollen and the female plant produces ovules. The pollen must come in contact with the ovules in order for fertilization to take place and for the female plant to produce seeds. The small white flowers that appear on the Ilex in spring and summer are actually clusters of many flowers.

Transfer or Repotting

How much I must water Ilex? If you want to give your Ilex plant a fresh start every year, spring is the best time to do it. You can replant it in a fresh soil mixture at this time. However, if the plant is an adult, you shouldn't replant it more often than once every three years. When you do replant it, be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands from the sharp leaves.

Caring The Ilex

How to care the plant? The Ilex, or holly, is a popular plant known for its glossy green leaves and red berries. However, the Ilex is also a sharp-leaved plant, which can pose a danger to children and pets who may not be aware of its razor-like leaves. As such, it is important to prune the Ilex regularly in the spring in order to ensure that its leaves do not become a hazard.

Pests & Challenges

What is the challenge when caring Ilex plant? The main thing is to provide it with good conditions. Ilex is a thermophilic plant, so it is very important to provide it with a comfortable temperature. If the temperature is too low, the plant may die. Also, the plant does not like drafts, so it is better to keep it away from doors and windows. Ilex needs a lot of light, but direct sunlight should be avoided. The plant does not like too much watering, so the soil should be allowed to dry out between waterings.

Toxic & Poisonous Type

Are Ilex poisonous? When Ilex is ingested it can cause irritation to the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Ilex is not considered to be life-threatening.