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Blue Holly Ilex x meserveae

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
EYE-leks MESS-erv-ay
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Meserve holly, is a hybrid evergreen shrub in the Aquifoliaceae family. It resulted from a cross between I. aquifolium  (noted for its winter hardiness) and I. rugosa (an English-style holly) by Kathleen Meserve of St. James New York. Her hybrid is intended to create an English holly that withstands harsh northeastern winters and includes a number of cultivars collectively known as meserve hollies.

These bushy hollies typically grow to 6 to 8 feet tall, although some occasionally reach 15 feet. The foliage of this plant is remarkably similar to that of Ilex x xaquipernyi, but the more numerous spines are flexible and almost rubbery and leaves are not convex. The purplish twigs of meserve holly also serve to distinguish between the two. As expected, this plant is tolerant of the cold, with excellent winter hardiness to USDA Zone 5, and is a rapid grower.

Meserve holly does best in average, slightly acidic, moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. If planting in a zone with hot summers, site the plant where it will get some  afternoon shade and in locations protected from cold winter winds. Prune in the winter as needed to maintain shape. Meserve Hollies are dioecious (separate male and female plants) and female plants require a male plant in the vicinity to pollinate and produce fruit. As a general rule of thumb, you should plant one male for every 3 to 5 female plants. The cultivar 'Blue Prince' is typically used as the male plant

Insect, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Potential insect problems include holly leaf miner, spider mites, whitefly, and scale. Potential disease problems include leaf spot, leaf rot, tar spot, and powdery mildew. Also susceptible to leaf drop, leaf scorch and chlorosis (yellowing of leaves in high pH soils).

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Blue Prince'
    Male polinator. Not reliably winter hardy. 8 to 12 foot dense shrub.
  • 'Blue Princess'
    Female plant. Showy fruit. Not reliably winter hardy. 8 to 12 foot dense shrub.
  • 'Hachfee'
    Female plant. AKA 'Castle Spire'. 8 to 10 feet high, 4 feet wide.
  • 'Heckenstar'
    Male plant. AKA 'Castle Wall'. 8 to 10 feet tall, 4 feet wide, dense shrub.
'Blue Prince', 'Blue Princess', 'Hachfee', 'Heckenstar'
Tags:
#evergreen#white flowers#wildlife plant#nectar plant#winter interest#showy fruits#specialized bees#fast growing#deer resistant#blue-green leaves#red fruits#northern climate#cold tolerant#pollinator plant#fantz#bird friendly#bee friendly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Blue Prince'
    Male polinator. Not reliably winter hardy. 8 to 12 foot dense shrub.
  • 'Blue Princess'
    Female plant. Showy fruit. Not reliably winter hardy. 8 to 12 foot dense shrub.
  • 'Hachfee'
    Female plant. AKA 'Castle Spire'. 8 to 10 feet high, 4 feet wide.
  • 'Heckenstar'
    Male plant. AKA 'Castle Wall'. 8 to 10 feet tall, 4 feet wide, dense shrub.
'Blue Prince', 'Blue Princess', 'Hachfee', 'Heckenstar'
Tags:
#evergreen#white flowers#wildlife plant#nectar plant#winter interest#showy fruits#specialized bees#fast growing#deer resistant#blue-green leaves#red fruits#northern climate#cold tolerant#pollinator plant#fantz#bird friendly#bee friendly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ilex
    Species:
    I. aquifolium x I. rugosa
    Family:
    Aquifoliaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Norhteastern United States
    Distribution:
    Northern, mid-Atlantic, and states south to the Carolinas.
    Wildlife Value:
    Fruits are attractive to birds. Flowers attract bees. Members of the genus Ilex support the following specialized bee: Colletes banksi.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Deer damage
    Edibility:
    Use caution. Human ingestion of berries can cause minor toxic reaction.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 8 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Erect
    Pyramidal
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
    Appendage:
    Spines
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3b, 3a, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Showy bright red berries on female plants in fall, often persisting until spring.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Insignificant
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Small, greenish-white to pink-white flowers that bloom in spring.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Prickly
    Smooth
    Waxy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are alternate, simple, ovate, acute, cuneate, coriaceous, and dark green to blue green in color. They are spinose with 4 to 8 (sometimes 16) flexible, prominent and ascending spines per margin. Grow between 1 to 2 1/2 inches long. Leaves have a leathery feel to them.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Stems are stout and reddish-purple in color. Stems have a triangular, stipular scar.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Lawn
    Slope/Bank
    Landscape Theme:
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Barrier
    Border
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Screen/Privacy
    Small groups
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. Leaves and berries are low toxicity and it is only in very large doses that problems are likely to arise. Fruits particularly poisonous to children.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Saponins
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits
    Leaves