How Big Can A Holly Tree Get?

You are looking to find out how big a holly tree can get. You want to make sure you have enough space for the tree in your landscape and that it won't overcrowd other plants. Perhaps you are considering planting a holly tree and want to make sure it is the best choice for your property. We researched this beautiful plant, so you know what to expect! 

Holly trees can grow from 6 to 80 feet tall. They can spread from 3 to 25 feet wide. American Holly trees can grow up to 60 feet tall or more, but they usually grow to be 20-40 feet tall. The width of the American Holly tree is about 10-20 feet. Bordeaux is a small dwarf holly variety that only grows to 3 feet tall.

Now that you know how big a holly tree can get, you probably have more questions. You might wonder if you can cut the top off a holly tree. You might also want to know how holly trees can be used or where you should plant them. This post will also detail how to prune holly trees as small shrubs and how to prune them to encourage upward growth. Keep reading to learn more. 

exotic red berries on the branch of a tree in a garden. How Big Can A Holly Tree Get

How Big Can A Holly Tree Get?

The height and spread of a holly tree depend on the variety. A holly tree can grow from 6 feet to 80 feet tall. A holly tree can have a spread of 3 feet to 25 feet. This depends on the specific variety and how you manage the plant on your landscape. Here are some common types of holly and the approximate height and spread of each genus. 

  • American Holly - Height of 35-50 feet with a spread of 18-40 feet
  • Carolina Holly - Height of 15-20 feet with a spread of 10-12 feet
  • Catberry - Height of 5-9 feet with a spread of 3-6 feet
  • Chinese Holly - Height of 15-25 feet with a spread of 15-25 feet
  • Common Winterberry - Height of 3-15 feet with a spread of 3-12 feet
  • English Holly - Height of 30-50 feet with a spread of 15-25 feet
  • Japanese Holly - Height of 4-5 feet with a spread of 4-5 feet
  • Nana Holly - Height of 3-5 feet with a spread of 3-6 feet
  • Nelly Stevens Holly - Height of 15-25 feet with a spread of 5-10 feet
  • Yaupon Bordeaux Holly - Height of 10-30 feet with a spread of 8-12 feet
  • Yaupon Bordeaux Dwarf Holly - Height of 2-3 feet with 3-5 feet spread

Japanese holly is an Aquifoliaceae evergreen tree and is used for hedges and garden trees. How Big Can A Holly Tree Get

How Tall Do Holly Trees Grow?

American Holly and English Holly trees are the most popular varieties. They traditionally grow to be 20-4o feet tall. They can also be pruned and kept to a small shrub or hedge size. The size depends on several factors, including the variety, the location of planting, and how the plant is maintained. 

There are dwarf varieties of holly, including Yaupon Bordeaux, Nana, Japanese, Common Winterberry, and Catberry. All of these varieties can be kept to 5 feet tall or smaller. The Common Winterberry can grow as tall as 15 feet depending on how the plant is maintained. 

Click here to buy this 2.5-quart Pencil Holly from Amazon.

Can You Cut Off the Top Of A Holly Tree?

Cutting off the top of a holly tree may cause abnormal branch growth. The main trunk that extends straight toward the sky is known as the central leader. When the central leader is cut back too far, other branches will compete to become the leader. This can cause the branches to grow outward with no strong central leader. 

The general rule for pruning is to prune no more than 1/3 of the new growth each year. You may cut back the central leader as long as you cut no more than 1/3 of the new year's growth. It must remain the longest branch that grows vertically toward the sky. Holly trees can be cut all the way to the ground and will still grow back. If your holly tree size is unmanageable or you have to cut more than 1/3 of new growth, cutting the tree to the ground may be the best option. 

What Is The Tallest Holly Tree?

The tallest holly tree on record in the USA is an American Holly tree in Chambers, Alabama. This tree is 74 feet tall with a 48-foot-wide spread. American Holly and English Holly trees are the tallest varieties. These trees typically reach heights of 30-50 feet tall and can have a spread of 15 to 40 feet. 

What Is The Fastest Growing Holly Tree?

The Nelly Stevens Holly tree can grow up to 3 feet per year. This is the best variety to consider for your landscape if you want to create a privacy hedge or barrier for a new property. You can expect this tree to grow up to 15-25 feet tall and spread 5-10 feet. The Nelly Stevens Holly is also very dense and thick, making it one of the best varieties for blocking sound. 

Click here to buy 3 potted Nelly Steven Holly plants from Amazon. 

How To Prune Holly Trees

Pruning is an essential step to shaping and keeping a tree to your preferred size. There are ways to prune that will keep a holly tree as a shrub or hedge plant. There are also ways to prune the tree to encourage more growth.

Deciduous holly plants lose their foliage at the end of the season, and these plants require more pruning throughout the plant's lifespan. Evergreen holly plants keep their foliage through the winter and need more maintenance during the first two or three years of life. 

red holly branch teeming with red fruits. How Big Can A Holly Tree Get

How To Prune Holly Trees As Shrubs Or Hedge Plants?

To keep holly trees as a landscape shrub, you may need to prune regularly. For the best results, you should prune the plant after 2-4 inches of new growth. This will require once a month pruning as a minimum standard. This varies depending on climate, growth factors, location of the plant, and variety of holly. You may need to prune weekly during the growing season to prevent your shrub from becoming a tree. 

Remove any dead branches or branches that are crossing. Shape the hedge plant evenly, and do not cut off lower branches if you are planting a privacy hedge. You will want to maintain the thickness of the hedge plants to block the most sound from nearby neighbors or streets. 

For more information about privacy hedge plants, check out this post. 17 Best Privacy Bushes And Shrubs

How To Prune Holly Trees To Encourage Growth?

The best way to encourage the growth of the holly tree is to prune it in early spring or late winter. Pruning during dormancy is safer for the plant. Doing it right before the plant wakes up ensures that the pruning spots will be protected when growth begins in the spring. Pruning during dormancy does reduce the number of flowers and berries your plant will produce during the season, but it is the best option to encourage more growth. 

For more information about tall and thin landscaping plants, check out this post, 30 Tall Thin Plants For Landscaping Your Garden or Backyard.

In Closing

Holly trees may be deciduous or evergreen. Some holly varieties are dwarves, which means they will stay small regardless of how they are pruned or maintained. The most common holly trees are the American Holly and English Holly, which may grow 30-50 feet tall. These trees can also be maintained to be kept small but may require weekly pruning. Dwarf varieties of holly, such as Nana and Catberry, will grow to be 3-10 feet tall. 

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