Holly Bushes

Indoor Holly Bush

Darkstar83! added on February 4, 2014 | Answered

I have an indoor holly bush. The leaves have started to turn crispy and fall off. They have also lost their shine. I was wondering what's causing this and what I must do to stop it. I know not to over water it and I keep the soil barely moist.

What kind of fertilizer do I use and how often? I'm trying to return the plant back to health. It was a gift and has sentimental value for me. I got the plant around Christmas so I'm not sure when it was fertilized last. And is misting the plant good for it? Should I just cut most of the plant down to soil level and let it start over again? Or is there a way to get the leaves back to their shiny green color again? I need help before it dies completely. It was given to me and my wife at our 10 month old daughter's funeral, so I would like to keep it growing forever.

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on February 6, 2014

I am sorry for your loss.

Plants like holly are not really intended to be houseplants. When they are sold at Christmas time, it is the intention of the retailer that they plant will be used for decoration for the season and then discarded.

That being said, there is no reason you can't keep this holly, just not as a houseplant.

I would recommend moving it to somewhere that it can go dormant. That is likely the reason this plant is slowly dying. Plants like holly need to rest once a year and this plant has not been able to rest. At this time of year, you cannot simply set it outside (it does not have the defenses built up to battle the cold - it has to slowly build those up as the weather cools in fall), but it does need to go somewhere cool. An attached garage or even a basement will work. This will be cool enough to allow it to go into dormancy but not so cold as to kill it.

It will need some extra light. A florescent light situated inches from the plant will work. Keep watering it as you have, with just enough to keep the soil moist. Only water when the top of the soil is dry.

In the spring, move the plant outdoors. Don't panic if it has lost alot of leave, it can regrow them as long as the branches are still pliable. It should be hardy to your area, but in the spring see if you can find out what variety of holly it is, just to make sure it can survive in your area. As long as it can survive in your area, then you should find a nice place to plant it outside. If it cannot survive in your area, keep it in a container and follow these instructions every year (starting in the late fall) to keep it alive.

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