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Red Beauty® Holly has enjoyed a surge in popularity lately as homeowners discover its many wonderful attributes. This stately evergreen forms an elegant, compact, conical shape and gives your landscape a striking vertical element. Prickly, dark blue-green leaves provide rich color throughout the year, and loads of vivid red berries make a glorious display fall through winter. In fact, winter is when Red Beauty® shines the brightest, adding a festive Christmas-y feel to the landscape. It’s like a little outdoor Christmas Tree that comes with its own decorations!
In the early 1950s, an amateur gardener in Long Island named Kathleen Meserve attended a garden club talk on Holly Trees. It was a momentous occasion in horticulture. You see, Mrs. Meserve loved the stately English Holly Tree, but English Holly isn’t reliably cold-hardy in the northeastern states. So, she set out to breed her own hardy hybrid Hollies, armed with only a fifth-grade knowledge of botany and a paintbrush (to transfer the pollen from one flower to another). It was a rousing success. Kathleen Meserve introduced dozens of wonderful new hardy Hollies to the world. Dr. Elwin Orton of Rutgers University, another brilliant Holly hybridizer, used Meserve’s Hollies in his own breeding work. He came up with Red Beauty® and patented it in 2002.
It’s not easy to find pyramidal evergreens that stay small. Red Beauty® Holly fits the bill and does so with style. Feel free to keep it trimmed if you want the outline to be perfectly symmetrical or if you want to further limit its size.
How to Grow
Although Red Beauty® likes to act tough, it does appreciate a bit of kindness. Plant it in good, rich, slightly acidic, freely draining garden soil in a location that doesn’t get baking afternoon sun. Not too much shade though! The foliage won’t grow as densely as it should if it doesn’t receive enough light. Protection from frosty winter winds is a good idea, too. Water regularly and mulch to keep the soil moist but not wet. To ensure that your Red Beauty® sets abundant fruit, a suitable male Holly must be nearby. Blue Prince® Holly is the usual recommendation; Blue Stallion® will most likely happily oblige as well.
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