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Holly Bushes

Q.Centennial Girl Holly possibly dying

Zone zone 5a | T-rouble added on February 21, 2014 | Answered

I purchased a Centennial Girl holly from the local garden center the week between Christmas and New Years. It is about 6 feet tall, including its pot. They had it decorated for Christmas and outdoors. Since the ground was way too frozen to consider planting it outdoors and also much too cold to leave outside in a pot, I placed it in my unheated basement hoping it would survive until spring. I didn’t have anyplace else to put it.

There might have been some freeze damage since we definitely had temperatures well below freezing (and a couple below zero) before I brought it home, but it seemed pretty healthy at the time. There is plenty of light, as my basement has large and plentiful windows. I have watered it a few times, but not overly much. The leaves are not changing color in any way, but they are definitely drying out and falling off. The ones at the top fall off if I touch them at all. The leaves at the bottom I can tug on and they don’t come off unless I tug hard, but they aren’t looking too healthy.

I am certain the plant has been seriously stressed by going from freezing temperatures to temps in the 50s. I guess what I’m wondering is what I might be able to do to keep this poor thing alive until I can get it in the ground come spring?

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on February 24, 2014

It is likely stressed from all the temperature fluctuations. If it has come out dormancy (which is likely due to the time spent indoors), then it can't go back outside right now. I would treat it as a houseplant for the rest of the winter. It likely needs more light. Even if there is light from windows, it may not be enough. Try adding a supplemental florescent light placed just a few inches from the plant.

Also, water when the soil is dry to the touch. As soon as temps stay above freezing at night, move it outside to a sheltered location, such as against a wall.

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