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Ilex is pretty and provides colour in winter when it's most welcome!

Almost all Ilex shrubs are either male or female so plant a group of them if you would like them to produce the berries. They are slow growing and easy to grow because they are not fussy about soil, Holly shrubs grow in shade but variegated types needs sunny position to help retain its colour.

They work great as a barrier hedge as its distinctive spiny leaves deter animals and protect birds from predators as they feed on its bright red berries. The berries are mildly toxic to us humans though and will cause stomach upset if eaten.

Young plants transplant better that more mature specimens and will settle into their new position quickly. Ilex shrubs respond well to hard pruning, but best to wear gloves when pruning holly to protect against the prickly leaves.

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