The way to Prune a Yaupon Holly Tree
The bright red berries of yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) include a festive note to your winter garden, though the comparatively smooth edges of the evergreen’s oval leaves do not resemble the lobed, spiky leaf of traditional Christmas holly. The yaupon holly is acceptable for U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 11 and is considered a shrub to small tree — it may reach 15 to 30 feet tall. The plant blooms on new growth, so wait till winter to prune yaupon hollies to avoid cutting off the berries. This way you may add the trimmings to holiday wreaths, flower arrangements and crafts.
Cut broken, dead and diseased branches down to the point where they join a larger branch nearer to the middle when you notice them. Start looking for them in midwinter when you perform your yearly pruning. Cut parallel to the primary trunk of the holly.
Prune up to one third of the branches from the yaupon holly to open its inside to sunlight and air flow, particularly when the plant is young. Cut down to the base of the stem or where it connects another, larger branch. Pick the stems you cut based on if you want to shorten the plant or simply open it up to encourage fresh growth in the inside of the plant.
Clip the ends of yaupon holly branches back to 1/4 inch above a node or bud growing in the direction that you want to encourage growth when pruning to create a more formal shape. Step back as you work your way round the plant, which includes a naturally curved contour, to ensure that the upper section of the shrub is slightly narrower than the bottom so lower branches aren’t eventually shaded out. This selective pruning is an alternative to shearing which can lead to leaves that look ragged and produce a casing of outer growth together with the middle dying out.
Prune off limbs of big yaupon holly specimens that are less than 4 feet off the ground in spite of the trunk to train the plant to a little tree. This is especially effective when your yaupon holly has several trunks.
Monitor the base of the plant during the growing season and cut each one the upright whiplike bananas which appear in the roots as they emerge. Yaupon holly has a propensity to sucker and form thickets.