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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Plant diseases, Holly

I purchased a gallon size Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata 'Sky Sentry') 5 years ago and put it in a 12" diameter container. It has not grown much, and has been looking bad lately, so I thought it was probably root bound. To my surprise, when I took it out, there were no new roots--the root ball was about 3" deep and 6" across. Is this a normal root for the Ilex? What does it need to thrive?


Since you mention that the plant is not looking healthy, I wonder if it may have root rot.

According to North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Ilex crenata is highly susceptible to this fungal problem.

It is possible that there are nematodes feeding on the roots and diminishing the plant's ability to get water and nutrients from the soil.

Another North Carolina Cooperative Extension site provides descriptions of several problems affecting hollies.

The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect & Disease Control by Barbara Ellis (Rodale, 1996) says that holly roots grow close to the surface, so perhaps the size of the root ball is not abnormal.

Missouri Botanical Garden has general information on this plant.

To determine what exactly is causing the plant's ill health, you may want to bring pictures and samples of the affected parts of the holly to a Master Gardener Clinic.

Date 2017-07-18
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Garden Tip

Keywords: Sarcococca, Plant cuttings, Salvia, Lavandula, Propagation, Rhododendron, Gaultheria shallon, Penstemon, Holly, Cistus, Ceanothus

Make new plants by taking softwood cuttings. Cuttings Through the Year, a booklet published by the Arboretum Foundation(available for sale at the Washington Park Arboretum gift shop) suggests which plants to propagate month by month and how to do it. A few September plants include: Rock Rose, Salal, Lavender, Holly, Penstemon, evergreen azaleas, Sweet box, Salvia, California Lilac and many others.

For a tutorial on taking softwood cuttings go online to a Fine Gardening article complete with clear color photos: www.finegardening.com/propagate-your-shrubs-softwood-cuttings

Date: 2006-10-23
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Garden Tip

Keywords: Convolvulus arvensis, Hedera helix, Weeds, Invasive plants, Holly

In late spring watch out for seedlings of invasive plants bindweed (perennial morning glory), English holly and English ivy. Birds love to eat ivy berries, which are only produced by mature plants that have stopped climbing. The berries ripen in late winter, just in time for birds to "sow" the seeds in your garden. These three weeds are easy to pull up when their root systems are still undeveloped.

Date: 2007-05-17
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May 31 2018 13:14:08