Winter Damage On Holly

//Winter Damage On Holly

This is classic winter damage. It usually happens as a combination of cold temperatures, wind and sun reflected off of the snow. The plant might recover, so wait at least a month to see what happens. The holly will drop all the burned leaves (you can already see that it’s doing this) and there may be some die-back on the top branches. Wait until mid-May to do any pruning. At that point you’ll see new growth from the stems that are still alive. Prune off any stems that are still brown in mid-May.

It would be a good idea to remove the lawn in a circle around this plant, and apply a layer of composted manure and a light application of an organic fertilizer. This will also make it easier to mow the grass around this holly. An inch of mulch over that compost will help keep the water in over the summer while the holly recovers. Next fall, in October, spray the plants with an anti-dessicant product to help protect the leaves.

By | 2016-02-27T22:38:25-08:00 February 27th, 2016|Shrubs|17 Comments

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  1. Gayle K January 13, 2023 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    I have two 5ft tall holly trees. I has been very cold, then warmer temperatures. All of the leaves have fallen off of both trees. Will the tree bounce back from the stress of the weather? The branches are flexible and I will not see new growth until the Spring.

    • April February 15, 2023 at 5:23 am - Reply

      We have experienced the exact same just south of Nashville. That is some reassurance given our proximity that it is weather that has impacted our hollies.

      • Frank March 10, 2023 at 6:40 am - Reply

        Yes, east of Nashville the same. I can see a bit of green tinge in each plant except the Holly. I’m happy to wait until May for this twenty year old tree.

      • Rebecca April 13, 2023 at 11:43 am - Reply

        Good to know! I’m southeast of Nashville and my landscaping which thrived this time last year all looks sad this year. Hoping it all comes back by summer!

      • Susan June 26, 2023 at 7:28 pm - Reply

        I’m in Northwest Arkansas. All of my Oakland Holly trees lost their leaves. Only one of my Nellie Stevens did. I have numerous other varieties of holly bushes/trees that did not drop leaves. Everything (minus one plant) has leafed back out as of June. Sure hope this summer and winter are not like last year.

  2. Randy February 3, 2023 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Same, Gayle. In Memphis.

  3. Kendra February 24, 2023 at 7:12 am - Reply

    I have 3 holly bushes and they all lost their leaves over the winter. I want to prune all the way down, will this help?

    • Andy April 11, 2023 at 5:14 pm - Reply

      I would not prune as the tree is stressed. You may experience 75% of foliage back and make take another year to full regain its fullness.

  4. Fisher February 24, 2023 at 10:49 am - Reply

    Just north of Memphis and both of my 15 foot trees did the same

  5. Gail February 28, 2023 at 4:59 am - Reply

    I’m just north of Nashville and all four of our bushes lost their leaves. I found this article online:

  6. Stephanie March 1, 2023 at 9:59 am - Reply

    Yes I have a row of about 5 Blue Prince hollies I planted from Home Depot 6 years ago and they all completely leaf-dropped. Praying for a miracle over here!!

  7. Pat March 6, 2023 at 7:00 am - Reply

    We live in Indiana and have the same problem with our 100 year old holly bush. We haven’t had a lot of snow this winter but did have a bad cold spell. The holly started looking bad in February and I’ve been worrying about it since. I will follow the advice of this article and pray that it makes it!

  8. Tina March 29, 2023 at 10:23 am - Reply

    I’m in Western Kentucky. Only one of two of my large Holly trees suddenly shucked 90% of his leaves during the latest snow event. The one that lost the leaves is on the east side of the house and receives full sun until afternoon. The one on the west side of the house is perfectly fine. Incidentally it gets mostly filtered Sun. Glad to know that it might recover and anxiously waiting to see if it does this spring. My trees are definitely over 20 ft tall. They are very close to the house. Love the shade they provide so would really hate to lose the east side one. Thank you for the article and everybody’s comments because I feel like now it’s a regional thing that’s happened possibly because of that light reflection during this latest wet cold that we all experienced.. Fingers crossed!

    I have raked the majority of the dead Leaves away and burned them. Will probably look into organic fertilizer as mentioned in the article. I have a large pile of composted leaves so I think I might put them around the bottom of it. Right now kind of scared to do anything with it until I know that it’s hopefully going to recover. In other words I don’t want to do anything to damage it further. It’s the first time it has ever happened so it’s good to have the information in this article and know that it might recover. Grateful for everyone’s comments.

  9. Dennis Massey April 12, 2023 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    I live in Northeast TN and we lost 2 small bushes (name unknown) that have been there for a long time and one holly bush looks like it was burned, like what you all are saying. Never had this before on any bushes or trees. Another holly, sits next to a holly tree and neither have damage. Mine doesn’t look like he’s gonna make it. I wish you could upload pics.

  10. AJ April 18, 2023 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    Ours South of Nashville are coming back!!!!!!!

  11. LS May 26, 2023 at 8:50 am - Reply

    I’m just East of Memphis, new home in October, so very new landscape. I lost 5 azaleas, and my Laurel has just a handful of leaves. My Holly have fresh green leaves but the bottom 3rd of both of them doesn’t have any leaves. I don’t know whether to replace them or cut those branches off (can’t look any worse) also the top 1/3 of my Oak tree has no leaves. I don’t know where to start

  12. Arleen August 17, 2023 at 10:07 am - Reply

    I did have my damaged holly treated to retain moisture, but so many dead leaves are still hanging on. There are green areas, even at the top, but not enough. Is there anything I can do to encourage the dried leaves to fall? There is also a small amount of new growth. It is a very large tree and I love it.

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