The Pencil Hollies on each side of my front door are getting out of shape. The bottoms are bare and there is too much at the top. If I prune the tops, I'm afraid that will stimulate more growth at the top. How does one properly prune pencil hollies?
I suggest you overall prune your trees, no more than one third of the growth. That should help stimulate the bottoms to throw new growth, while limiting the new growth at the top. And pruning should be done in the late fall, early winter when the trees are dormant. Actually it makes it easier for your to see how you want to shape your trees.
Can I transplant a sky pencil Japanese holly now?
Yes, as long as you replant in a suitable location and keep it watered, it should do fine. This artcile will help with preventing transplant shock: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/environmental/learn-how-to-avoid-and-repair-transplant-shock-in-plants.htm
Last year we had a significant amount of heavy snow that weighed down on the branches of our sky pencil holly, causing the branches to splay out horizontally. The holly survived just fine, but the branches did not return to their typical vertical shape. It's very "bushy" looking now. Can I wrap the branches to retrain them to grow upwards? What is recommended?
You can certainly tie them together in areas of heavy snow. In fact, it's rather a common practice.
Here is an article on Sky Pencil Holly: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/shrubs/holly/care-of-sky-pencil-holly.htm
Will the Japanese sky pencil holly harm dogs or cats? Can the plants kill them? ARE THEY POISONOUS?
I would classify the Japanese Sky Pencil as poisonous to cats and dogs. The leaves and berries of the Japanese Sky Pencil are mildly poisonous and will cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested.
I want this question answered by a gardening expert, not me.
My Sky Pencil hollies are 1 1/2 yrs old and about 3 ft tall. I just noticed that their leaves have a yellow cast. I live in Nashville, Tn. We had a unusually cold winter. I have not fertilized them since setting them out. What do you suggest? Virginia
Are all the leaves affected? Are the leaves overall yellow cast or riddled with yellow trails or yellow spots? How does the rest of the tree look? The answer to these questions could mean the difference between a diagnosis of cold injury, a fungal infection or an insect infestation. More than likely, however, this is due to cold injury. Here is an article on cold damage in shrubs with a prescribed course of treatment:
For additional information on yellowing leaves on hollies, please refer to:
For more information on the care of sky pencils, please visit the following link:
Branches are falling to a horizontal position and will not remain vertical.
From this picture it would appear they have grown pretty wide.
They need to be pruned in order to gain stability.
Prune back any branches leaning out or crossing over.
Prune them all the way back to within an inch or so of the main branch.
Prune the top and sides every 2 to 3 months during the growing season while the plant is young. This will force the plant to build stronger stems below and as the plant gets taller and larger it will be able to support itself.
Only use a slow release fertilizer, this will make sure the shrub doesn't grow to quickly from a quick shot of nitrogen.
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!
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.