Christmas is just around the corner and it is definitely holly season. Yaupon holly is a great holly choice for our region. Yaupon holly is native to central Texas and can be either a large shrub or a small single or multi-trunked tree. The native shrub can reach an average of 25 feet high but there are cultivars in every shape and size. Dwarf yaupons are 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. Columnar or weeping varieties can be up to 15 feet tall. Dwarf yaupon holly Nana reaches from 4 to 7 feet tall and can be 10 feet wide. Yaupon holly have both male and female plants. Only the female plants have the bright red berries. Nurseries typically sell only the female varieties to assure the plants have berries. The decorative berries are long lasting on the shrub. The small evergreen dark green leaves are the perfect background for the berries and the ornamental gray trunks marked with bright white patches add visual interest. Everything about the yaupon is decorative.
Yaupon is very versatile and can be planted in full sun to part shade. At least 1/2 a day of sun is needed for good berry production. Water your holly well for the first year after it is planted to establish a good strong root system. Once the holly is established, it is drought tolerant. Yaupons are not picky about soil and can tolerate clay soil to sandy soil although they will do better in a well drained location. Severe pruning will not hurt your holly so it can be kept in any shape, height or width you desire.
If you are looking for a good small tree or shrub for a habitat garden, Yaupon is a good choice for wildlife. The berries provide much needed food for birds in the winter. The flowers of the holly provide nectar for bees and butterflies and the dense habit of this shrub provide cover and nesting areas for birds and other wildlife. Yaupon is also the host plant for the Henrys Elfin butterfly.
Whether you are planning a formal garden with a Yaupon topiary or a habitat garden with a wild Yaupon shrub to attract birds and butterflies your garden will be fabulous with this holly. Plant a Yaupon holly in your garden this December for a great festive look.