Pruning My Holly Bushes
My holly bushes: one female, one male, have straggly branches where there are only leaves at the end of the branches. Can I cut the branches off? Both bushes were damaged by heavy snow storms. I live in the northeast section of the country and it is springtime. Both bushes have small white flowers. Will I kill the bushes by doing some heavy pruning?
Hollies are best pruned just before their flush in the spring. For us, zone 6a/7b, it's mid-March. When pruned before the flush, bare stems are visible for a shorter period of time than when pruned in fall or early winter. When pruning your shrubs, do not take more than half of the plant. Once they have been cut back, a yearly gentle shaping is better than the occasional severe cutting back. You may not have many berries the first year after a harsh trim, but should have an abundance the second year. (It is not too late, don't wait.)