Growing holly in Utah isn't impossible

Published: Sunday, Dec. 4 2011 4:00 p.m. MST

Fremont barberry will grow up to 8 feet tall. Its holly-like foliage is a waxy gray-green. The fruit is relished by rodents and birds. It grows naturally in southern and eastern Utah and is available from nurseries that specialize in native plants.

Oregon grape and creeping Oregon grape also have a holly-like leaf, but all these plants have blue rather than red berries. These are commonly sold in local nurseries and grow well in partial shade. The can develop beautiful reddish foliage in the winter.

Dispelling the myth of growing holly in Utah is difficult but not impossible. Select the kinds that will tolerate your soil and pat attention to their other growing need to ensure success in your garden.

Garden tips and events

The Holly Society of America Inc. is a nonprofit organization with members throughout the United States. The society stimulates interest, promotes research and collects and disseminates information about the genus Ilex. Contact them at

Fresh cut holly branches are available from local florists. Treat it as you would any cut flower with the stems in water and in cool areas. Holly berries are slightly toxic and can cause vomiting and diarrhea in humans. They are very important foods for birds and wildlife.

Larry A. Sagers is a horticulture specialist for the Utah State University Extension Service at Thanksgiving Point.

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