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Old 06-01-2015, 09:14 AM   #1
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I need a more durable shrub


I am in upstate NY. It shows on the maps as 6a because I am on a lake shore, but I bet it is 5b like the surrounding area once the lake freezes over. It is not supposed to freeze over, (neighbor says it never did in the 30 years she lived there) but it did the last two years.

In addition to the bizarre cold, we get an extraordinary wind between the houses because of the terrain.

Two years ago I had some landscaping done. Among other things, they put 6 Blue Prince hollies in my side yard, on the northside. It doesn't get much light there. The first year one died. The landscaper replaced it. The replacement died the second year. The other 5 didn't exactly prosper, but at least they didn't die.

So, I am looking for a shrub that looks vaguely like a holly from a distance, yet is more durable in terms of cold resistance and light requirements. I don't care if it is evergreen, as no one will see it in the winter.

Any suggestions?

Not that it matters, but should the landscaper's 1 year warranty on materials cover the replacement for 1 year also? Or could this be taken as negligence, putting bush where it doesn't belong?
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Old 06-01-2015, 10:46 AM   #2
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Your best bet is to go to a local nursery and ask them, skip the big box chains on this one
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Old 06-01-2015, 03:57 PM   #3
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A Holly is fairy unique in looks. Even here in zone 6 we can get some winter kill from the freezing wind. Covering them with snow protects them but you can only do that so long.

Stay away from the box stores and follow BrownBear's advice for the best results.
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Old 06-01-2015, 10:22 PM   #4
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There are several reasons that could have contributed to the demise of the 2 hollies and poor growth of the others:

1. When they were planted affects their survival chances. If they were put in late in the fall season and didn't have long enough to acclimate, they might not have been strong enough to survive the winter.

2. If the soil wasn't worked, turned and amended with compost properly, the soil might not have supported one holly, let alone several.

3. If the root ball was compacted and planted that way, the roots might not have been able to spread out to find sufficient moisture sources.

4. The hollies might have been too tall, too large for either the holes dug or to be transplanted without adequate time to adjust, or to be too close to each other.

5. If you're in a lake effect snow zone, that extra snow burying the hollies could have choked off access to aeration.

6. Strong winds from the lake might have contributed to winter dessication.

7. Newly planted shrubs benefit from burlap protection, especially in a lake area. The burlap surrounds the hollies and protects the trunks from the full onslaught of wind and snow. Lacking that, they bear the full brunt of winter wind and snow. I used to wrap my evergreens for at least a few years before allowing them to remain unprotected over the winter.

8. The hollies may have been planted too close to each other.


Before planting anything new to replace the hollies, I would check the root ball of the holly that died most recently. If the roots are compacted and haven't spread out, that's one of the problems. Also check the soil; if it's too sandy or clayey, that's also a problem.

An easy way to aerate the soil is to add coffee grounds, which earthworms like. They'll do a nice job of turning the soil for you.

I don't know of any shrub that resembles a holly; they're such a unique, beautiful plant.

Some holly species need both a male and female plant to produce berries. I'm not sure whether or not that mix is required for them to grow successfully otherwise.

Last edited by NorthernWinds; 06-01-2015 at 10:25 PM.
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