Holly problems (Photo).

ripplyukripplyuk Forumite
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This Holly seems to have shed a lot of it’s leaves and now looks very sparse. Is it dying? It has sentimental value so I’d really like to save it. Could it be lack of water? It’s been so wet here I didn’t water it but maybe it wasn’t getting enough. I’ve been drenching it for the last few days but I’m not sure if that’s the right thing to do since I don’t know what’s wrong with it. It has slow release fertiliser granules as well as liquid feed when I water it.

Is the pot too small? Would planting it out in the garden revive it? I’ve been reluctant to do that because I’m worried the roots will damage any pipework/foundations. I know Hollies grow big. Also it looks nice at the front of the house in the pot; or at least it did until now. 


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  • sherambersheramber Forumite
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    How long has it been in the pot?

    What type of compost is it planted in?


  • edited 22 June at 7:23PM
    ripplyukripplyuk Forumite
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    edited 22 June at 7:23PM
    @sheramber It’s been in the pot since I bought it, about 4yrs ago. The compost is John Innes No 3. 

    ETA: The roots have been cut back each year. 
  • theoreticatheoretica Forumite
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    Potted trees need much more water than those in the ground - it could well need water when those in the ground don't.  After 4 years growth it might be glad of a larger pot too.  As you have been trimming the roots, is the compost new or 4 years old?
    But a banker, engaged at enormous expense,
    Had the whole of their cash in his care.
    Lewis Carroll
  • sherambersheramber Forumite
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    The food store is in the roots so cutting back the roots may be starving the bush.

    Pruning the top would be better if it grows too big.

    Personally, I would repot it in a bigger pot with fresh compost and some slow release fertiliser or plant it out in the garden.

    Do you know what type of holly it is as apparently some are not suitable for  growing in a container.
  • greyteam1959greyteam1959 Forumite
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    Evergreens sometimes have a period of shedding some leaves.

  • edited 23 June at 12:14AM
    MalMonroeMalMonroe Forumite
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    edited 23 June at 12:14AM
    The pot is far too small, yes!  *ahem* that is to say, I do not have green thumbs by any means but that pot looks far too small.

    It's trying to tell you by shedding leaves - or as some might call it - crying.

    Here's some info - https://www.lovethegarden.com/uk-en/article/holly-ilex#:~:text=Once planted and properly established,soil with a thick mulch.

    Please help your holly!  Thank you.

    P.S. Don't prune or trim until its 'dormant phase' - late winter/early spring. 
    Please note that comments are strictly my own opinion, intended to help - never hinder. If they do not help then please ignore as the intention of the forum is to help everyone, if possible. MSE forum rules clearly state "no two people have the same circumstances or experiences and it is up to you to investigate, check and check again before you make any decisions or take any action based on information you glean from our community. Remember, don't rely on what you are reading. Verify it and protect yourself. You are responsible for any action you consequently make." It's always best to verify everything. Inappropriate comments will be reported, as per the Forum rules.
  • ripplyukripplyuk Forumite
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    Potted trees need much more water than those in the ground - it could well need water when those in the ground don't.  After 4 years growth it might be glad of a larger pot too.  As you have been trimming the roots, is the compost new or 4 years old?
    The compost is new-ish. A few months old. I change it every year, around early March. 
  • edited 23 June at 7:08AM
    ripplyukripplyuk Forumite
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    edited 23 June at 7:08AM
    sheramber said:
    The food store is in the roots so cutting back the roots may be starving the bush.

    Pruning the top would be better if it grows too big.

    Personally, I would repot it in a bigger pot with fresh compost and some slow release fertiliser or plant it out in the garden.

    Do you know what type of holly it is as apparently some are not suitable for  growing in a container.
    This one is ‘Pyramidalis’. I was told it was ideal for containers and patio gardens but maybe they meant temporarily. 

    I prune the top as well as the roots. I was told if the roots aren’t trimmed it will outgrow the pot. Is that wrong? 
  • ripplyukripplyuk Forumite
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    @MalMonroe I’m not so sure now. I found this photo online. It’s the exact same variety. My pot is much bigger than these canvas wraps and look at the size of those hollies! 




  • sherambersheramber Forumite
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    These have probably been grown in the ground until they were potted up for sale?
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