Evergreen Holly (Ilex)
The red berries and distinctive leaves of holly put most of us in the holiday spirit, and why not? That splash of red color and those reliably green, shiny leaves are a bright spot in any winter garden. Holly can grow successfully across the United States, and there are many more varieties than even most gardeners would expect (more than 400 species) with berries that can range from dark crimson to yellow [source: Taylor's Guides]. There are also variegated leaf varieties that can add a bit of the unexpected to your flowerbeds. Holly seems to be a natural for adornment and decoration, too. The Native Americans, Europeans and Chinese have all used holly sprays and berries in religious and cultural celebrations. Need a nice privacy hedge? Holly is hardy, can make an imposing barrier and is easy to prune. What could be better?
Soil: Soil needs can vary, so check with your grower for instructions on the type of holly you're interested in. The one soil requirement most hollies have in common is that they like acidic soil (pH 5.0 - 6.0).
Water: Hollies are drought tolerant.
Location: Hardy and adaptable, there's probably a holly that can thrive in your garden no matter where you live. Be careful if you want it to sprout berries, though. You'll need both male and female plants for that.
Zones: 2 to 12
Planting: Start new plants in spring after the last frost.
In the next section, we'll explore the delicious world of winter vegetables.