Michigan Holly

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Michigan holly is a traditional but without the painful spines.

Michigan holly is a shrub with deciduous, soft, spineless leaves that make this holly seem rather unhollylike. Its long-lasting red berries aligned along slender branches make it a favorite winter plant after the leaves drop. The foliage is dense, and shrubs grow with an oval form and numerous branchlets. The leaves, one and half to three inches long, are dark green and turn yellow in the fall. The flowers are insignificant, but the red berries last right through the winter if they're not eaten by the birds.

How to grow: Michigan holly does well in full sun or partial shade and in moist, rich soils. This is an acid-loving plant that will do poorly in neutral or alkaline soils.


Uses: The shrub makes a good accent plant for spots where its winter color will be appreciated. It is a fine choice for mass plantings and wildlife gardens. At least one male must be planted among several females for fruiting to occur.

Related varieties: Sparkleberry is one of the more spectacular selections, with numerous, long-lasting crimson berries.

Scientific name: Ilex verticillata


Want more information? Try these:

  • Flowering Shrubs. Add color and fragrance to your garden while creating an overall design for your yard. They're organized for you according to flowering season so you can choose accordingly.
  • Evergreen Shrubs. As the name suggests, these plants stay green all year long, which can brighten many a winter garden, especially in northern climates.
  • Types of Shrubs. Shrubs help to create lines and boundaries in your garden, and provide both privacy and protection. Review all your shrub options here.