Stressed Hollies #604033 - Ask Extension


Stressed Hollies #604033

Asked October 24, 2019, 1:52 PM EDT

I didn't realize several of my mature (~10yrs old) hollies had been so stressed by the late drought. (uploaded photo) I'd begun doing slow, soaking watering around the drip lines. Now Linthicum has had ~2" in 3 days. Is there anything I can do to help them recover?

Anne Arundel County Maryland

Expert Response

Keep watering. That's really all you can do, at this point. We had record-breaking drought this summer into fall, and the rain we've had has barely touched the deficit.   
The leaves in the photo all appear to be grayish and off-color, and may already be dead but merely turning brown very slowly.  In the case that the leaves almost all die, it's unlikely that the trees will recover.  If enough roots survive, it may send out new growth next spring.  You can wait and see how it does then.  


Hello Ellen,

Thank you for the information.

Even my hardest hit holly (photo I sent initially) still has some green leaves! Although some small branches are brittle, most are still pliable. 

I’ve now got a soaker hose wrapped around the 4 on that property line. How long should I keep the water on (daily) and how late into the year?

Thank you again for your help. 

The Question Asker Replied October 26, 2019, 1:26 PM EDT
Hi - If you still have some pliable stems, that is a good sign. If any stems are brittle, you can prune those out at any time during dry weather. You can check for live stems by scratching away a small portion of the outer bark. If you see green tissue underneath, the stems are still alive. If you see brown or gray, they are dead and will not recover.

Be careful that you don't overwater. You would only need to water about once per week when the weather is dry. Daily watering would be too much and could result in root decline. Watering (if needed) can be done until the ground freezes. 

Remove the English ivy that is climbing along the ground and into the interior of the holly shrub. The ivy is invasive and will compete with the holly for water and nutrients.

Good morning.

Re: watering once a week.
The area got over 2” of rain last week (Wednesday and Thursday).

- Should I water my hollies this weekend?

Thank you. 
The Question Asker Replied November 05, 2019, 5:11 AM EST
Read through those watering guidelines carefully.  If you get 1" of rain a week, don't water.  

At this point, most of us have gotten good rains--possibly enough to match the deficit.  However, if we go through a week or so without rain, consider watering.

 The bottom line is this:  don't let the plants go into winter in dry soil There must be moisture in the soil when the ground freezes. 


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