I want to take my holly from 8 feet tall to about 2 feet tall. Can I prune back to the knots in joints and cut there, and should I cover the cut with paint to stop the sap from leaking?
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Cutting the bush back by that much in one season will likely kill it. You should not cut away more than 1/3 in any one year. Cut away 1/3 this year and 1/3 next year and so on until the bush is to the desirable size. You can cut back to the knots, this is fine. You do not need to paint anything on the wounds to stop the sap. Painting the wounds can actually harm the plant by trapping harmful pathogens in the wound. The sap running a bit serves to help wash out any harmful fungus or bacteria that may have gotten in the wound and when the sap dries, it self-seals the wound to protect it.