The short answer is yes, but there are literally hundreds of different species and hybrids to choose from. All of them can be cut with no harm to their health. Here’s a trio with three different looks. Start with a couple of unique native species: American holly (Ilex opaca) is an evergreen, pyramidal-shaped tree, 30-to-60-feet tall, with leaves of a dull matte green color which nicely set off its berries. Possumhaw (Ilex decidua) is a deciduous, spreading, large shrub or small tree up to 30-feet tall. Copious bunches of brightly-colored fruit crowd its leafless branches at this time of year, making for a breathtaking display in the garden and equally spectacular as cut decorations in the house. The catch with these plants – as with most hollies – is that only female plants produce berries, so you will also need a non-fruiting male plant growing nearby to pollinate them. A relatively new, non-native holly has been developed to produce fruit on single female specimens without the need for a male partner: Christmas Jewel (Ilex x attenuata) is a dense, upright tree with dark green glossy foliage and large red berries. While said to grow only 12-feet tall, this plant has not been in cultivation for very long and I would guess that it will become taller if you let it. In order to produce the best berry crop for decorations, these and other hollies need to be sited in full sun and provided with even moisture in a well-drained soil.

Darrin Duling is the director of Mercer Botanic Gardens in Humble.  Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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