How Much Water Does A Holly Tree Need?

Holly trees are beautiful plants that can bring the finishing touches to any landscaping. It is common to think of a holly tree as the ever-popular green bush with red berries, but it can be so much more. Like any other plant, there are specific care instructions to make sure your holly tree grows to its full potential. Because of these special instructions, a common question that needs answering is how much water your holly tree truly needs.

A holly tree needs about two inches of water per week. That is five centimeters of water. There are easy ways to measure how much water you are giving your plant, however in most climates, it is not needed for you to intervene at all if your plant is outside. Unless there is a drought situation, your plant should be getting plenty of water naturally, although it’s never a bad idea to check and make sure it is getting the correct amount.

Making sure your holly tree gets the right amount of water is so very important to its growth. Giving it too much water will rot out its roots and leaves, and not giving it enough water will kill your holly tree. Therefore, you should continue reading to make sure your holly tree grows as big as it can.

close-up of the fruit of the black bryony. How Much Water Does A Holly Tree Need

How Much Water Does A Holly Tree Need?

As stated before, only about two inches of water are needed to keep your holly tree healthy and growing. That being said, it leaves some question as to how much water is two inches and how to tell when you’ve reached that point.

First, before explaining tips for that, it is important to acknowledge that many climates are sustainable as far as rain goes to keep your holly alive. Unless there is a drought or drought-like conditions, you usually will not need supplemental watering.

Measure Water Via an Upcycled, Empty Food Can

So, to measure two inches of water, you will want to find a container that is at least two inches deep; a lot of people will reuse food cans such as empty from tuna. You will want to measure the point that is two inches and place this can near your holly tree. Then, you will let the rain fall as it will and check periodically to make sure the rainwater fills the can up to at least the two-inch line.  

Measure Water Via Ruler or Stick in the Soil

Another way to check is to water your plant and continuously check how deep the water is reaching in the soil by sticking a dry ruler or stick into the soil and seeing how much of it comes out with wet soil on it. This method is usually less accurate, and potentially more effort is included. Obviously, if your plant is dried out or rotting from overwatering, then tend to it differently and see if that helps strengthen your plant.

prickly dark green leaves of holly (Ilex aquifolium) make a traditional decoration at Christmas time

Do Holly Trees Need A Lot Of Water?

Holly trees do not need a lot of water. Usually, like stated earlier, the average climate has enough rain to keep the plant watered adequately. Once again, supplemental watering is only needed if it is dry for weeks on end or drought.

Usually, the rain is enough water and not too much because soil usually has good drainage. Holly trees prefer evenly damp soil with good drainage. If the ground has bad drainage, then overwatering is possible. Signs of bad drainage include puddles or soaked and squishy ground.

Compared to other types of trees, holly trees are fairly normal. Most trees do not need supplemental watering either, meaning they need the natural amount that the climate gives them. This article shows some other trees only growing to less than 10 feet tall.

Holly and Berries on it's tree close up

How Often Should Holly Be Watered?

If you are supplementally watering your holly, you can space the two inches per week out to an inch a day for two days a week, once a week, or however works best for you. That being said, if you are planting your holly tree outside for the first time, moving it from a pot in a greenhouse or inside, it is important to water it more so it can adjust.

Watering it daily for the first week and two to three times per week for the next few weeks after that will help the plant adjust best to its new home, and it will allow for the most root growth. Obviously, once the holly tree is established, watering two inches a week is best.

Can You Overwater A Holly?

Nearly every plant can be overwatered, including the holly tree. Overwatering will eventually kill your holly tree. However, you will see signs before that point, which will definitely be your signal to change something about your routine with the plant or where the plant is located.

The largest sign is the leaves turning from a green to a yellow color. This is because the abundance of water is suffocating the roots. The roots are usually unable to receive the iron from the soil because of the plant's roots being drowned in water. This can also be because of bad drainage in the soil. 

Dahoon Holly berries on a tree that is also called Christmas Berry Ilex cassine in Naples, Florida

How Do You Take Care Of A Standard Holly Tree?


First, deciding where to place your holly tree is essential. You will want full sun or partial shade, not full shade. You will also want to give your holly tree plenty of room to grow.

Planting & Spacing

Digging the right-sized hole is very important as well. You will want your hole as deep as the container your plant was previously in. The width should be about twice the diameter of the original container.

Also, if you plant other holly trees after the original, make sure they are far enough away from each other. At least 100 feet of distance is important so the growth is not stunted, and the distance will help aid pollination in the future.


Once the tree is planted, it is important that you follow the watering schedule listed previously in this article. Watering every day for the first week, a few times a week after that until it is adjusted to its new home.

Annual Fertilizer

Year-round care is also an important factor to take into consideration. For example, in the winter, it is essential to apply slow-release fertilizer so the plant can feed throughout the season.

With the fertilizer, it is important to be sure not to overfeed because the holly tree will react badly. In the spring, you will want to add compost so the plant gets the proper nutrients it needs. And finally, in late winter, your tree will need pruning to continue healthy growth.

Check out this article on good fertilizers for trees. 

Thoughts To Conclude

Taking the best care of your holly tree that you can is imperative. You need to make sure you are watering it at least two inches of water per week. You also need to make sure you are replanting it in the ground correctly. Planting it correctly will give it the best chance at prospering.

After replanting, make sure to follow the other watering instructions for the first week, as well. Remember that your holly tree needs great and patient care to grow and strengthen.

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