Sky Pencil Holly Getting Bushy in the Shade
I planted two Japanese "Sky Pencil" holly shrubs last fall. I have a heavily wooded property and the garden where they are planted is in shade until the leaves fall, then it is partial shade. I notice they are getting thicker and bushier while retaining their height. Is this due to the shady conditions? Can I prune the branches that are extending from the base of the shrub to maintain a columnar shape? Will that make the shrub expand further? Should I just leave them alone? Thanks for your thoughts!
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
This holly, as with most holly shrubs, performs well in full sun. That said, it does tolerate shade. I don't think the shade, however, is making the shrub bushier. Sometimes these hollies just tend to grow wider, but this can be controlled with pruning. Normally, these shrubs don't require much pruning, if ever, though they respond well to it whenever some light trimming is in order. To control its height, simply cut off as much from the top as necessary, though never take more than a third off the plant's growth. For it's overall shape, just trim the sides up to a width that you prefer.