“When all the summer trees are seen so bright and green, the holly leaves a sober hue display, less bright then they. But when the bare and wintry woods we see, what then so cheerful as the holly tree?” Robert Southey. With glossy evergreen foliage and bright red berries that persist through winter, holly has long been associated with Christmas. Holly plants of all types are often the first go-to plant to add winter interest in the landscape. Due to this, plant breeders are continually creating newer varieties of hollies for the winter garden. One such new variety of holly is the Robin Red holly (Ilex x Robin™ ‘Conal’). Continue reading this article for more Robin Red holly info.
What is Robin Red Holly?
Along with ‘Festive,’ ‘Oakleaf,’ ‘Little Red,’ and ‘Patriot,’ ‘Robin Red’ is a member of the Red Holly Hybrid Series, which are hardy in zones 6 to 9. Like the common English holly, which we associate with Christmas, Robin Red holly has the classic dark green, glossy, evergreen foliage that these hollies are loved for. However, on this variety, the new foliage in spring emerges as a maroon to red color. The foliage then turns darker green as the season progresses. Like all hollies, the flowers of Robin Red are small, short-lived and inconspicuous. In autumn, though, Robin Red holly bears bright red fruit. Robin Red holly is a female variety and will require a nearby male plant to produce a showy display of berries. Suggested male varieties are ‘Festive’ or ‘Little Red.’ Robin Red holly has a pyramidal habit and grows 15 to 20 feet (5-6 m.) tall and 8 to 12 feet (2-4 m.) wide. The Red Holly hybrids are known for their fast growth rate. In the landscape, Robin Red hollies are used for privacy screening, windbreaks, firescaping, wildlife gardening, and as a specimen plant. While birds are drawn to hollies, Robin Red is noted to be somewhat resistant to deer. The berries, however, can be harmful to humans, so it is recommended to keep small children away from them.
How to Grow Robin Red Holly Plants
Growing Robin Red hollies is no different from other types really. Robin Red holly can grow in full sun to part shade, but like most hollies prefers part shade. They are tolerant of many soil types, from clay to sandy. Although young Robin Red plants will require frequent watering in the heat of summer, older established plants will be semi-drought tolerant. Robin Red holly is a broadleaf evergreen. Their dark green foliage and bright red berries persist through winter, so you do not want to do any pruning or shaping in late fall or winter. Instead, Robin Red hollies can be sheared to shape in early spring before the new maroon foliage emerges.
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