Mountain Holly Is Ideal for Wet Gardens

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Virtues: Mountain holly (Ilex mucronata) tolerates sun, shade and wet soil. Its preferences and appearance make it a great choice for a rain garden or a naturalistic planting scheme in a wet or low-lying area. Its flowers attract butterflies and its foliage makes it the larval host for the Columbia silkmoth.

mountain holly ilex mucronata

Common name: Mountain holly, catberry, swamp holly

Botanical name:Ilex mucronata

Exposure: Full sun to part shade

Season: Year-round for structure, fall for fruit

Flowers/fruit: Inconspicuous, tiny spring flowers give way to round berries that ripen bright red in fall.

Foliage: Narrow green leaves appear in spring and turn yellow in fall.

Habit: Woody, deciduous shrub growing between 6 and 10 feet tall and wide.

Origins:Ilex mucronata is native to the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Upper Midwest of the United States, as well as eastern Canada. It grows in moist woodlands, swamps, marshes and bogs.

How to grow mountain holly: Site in full sun to part shade, in acidic soil that remains moist or even wet. USDA Zones 4–6.

Image by Rob Routledge, Sault College, Bugwood.org - , CC BY 3.0 us