How to Propagate Holly Trees

Holly trees are used to make popular Christmas door decorations because of their glossy leaves and bright red berries. Holly can be grown as a tree, plant or shrub and will make a welcome addition to any garden as they thrive in dry, acidic soil with good drainage. Propagation is a low cost but lengthy process that can often take several years but it is easily achieved using holly cuttings or holly seeds.


Holly trees can be either male or female. The female trees will produce red berries in the winter, whilst the male ones will not. Both holly types will flower in the spring. A male holly tree can pollinate up to three female trees. Male holly trees do not have to be planted next to female trees, but as long as they are close to the female ones then healthy pollination will take place.

Holly seeds

To propagate holly tress from seeds is a time consuming process which will require a lot of care and attention. It can take up to three years for holly trees to grow from seeds and then up to another three years for the developing trees to produce any flowers.

Collect several of the holly berries, these are the seeds. Break the skins off the berries and then rinse them in cold water. Place the washed holly seeds into an empty planting pot, and then cover the seeds with soil. The holly seeds will need to be placed in a cool area. Once the holly plants have started to grow roots they can be transplanted into pots to allow them to thrive and develop further. The holly trees will need to planted in acidic soil and watered on a regular basis for the first year. In the second year of growth transplanting can take place during the spring months. After a year in pots the young holly trees will be ready to be transferred to the garden. Ensure that there is one male holly to every three females.

Holly cuttings

Growing holly trees from cuttings is probably the simplest and most popular method of propagation. For the best results holly cuttings need to be taken a quarter inch below the leaf node, and this should be done in the late spring or summer months.

Once the holly cutting has been selected remove all excess leaves, then place the tip in water until it can be potted. Fill a planting pot with acidic soil; apply rooting hormone powder to the cutting before planting it upwards into the pot. The potted holly tree will need to be kept in a cool area, it can be stored outside if the winter is not too harsh. During spring leaves should start to grow on the young holly tree. If no leaves grow then either wait until next winter or start the process again with a new holly cutting. When leaves have grown on the young holly tree it can be transplanted the following spring. Ensure that there are three female trees to every male.