You Have to Do Your Research

“You Have to Do Your Research”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


I am sure everyone has planted something that turned into  a big surprise and sometimes not a pleasant one.   Well, that has happened on more than one occasion to us, but the one instance I am thinking about right now happened when we first moved into our house 32 years ago and decided we needed to spruce up the landscaping.


One of the plants we bought and the only ones that are still around today were Burford Hollies.  Dwarf Burford Hollies to be exact.  We saw them at a nursery, thought they were pretty, thought they would be perfect for the planter in front of the house, so into the car they went for the ride to their new home.  This was in the days before I knew to look up unfamiliar plants before buying them, and the Internet, which can be a huge source of such information, was not even a thought in anyone’s mind.  So, no research was done, and we had no idea these would not be good foundation plants.


Big mistake.  Oh, they were fine for a few years.  They were about a foot and a half tall when we bought them and over the next two years grew moderately.  Then, they really took off, and we found out that “dwarf” didn’t really mean small.  In this instance, “dwarf” only means smaller than the original Burford.  Oh, they were smaller than the regular Burford holly which can grow 15 to 25 feet tall and 15 to 25 feet wide.  The dwarf grows 10 to 15 feet tall and 6 to 10 feet wide.  Way too big for a small brick planter in front of a window.


After a few years of trimming them back (almost constantly), we dug them up and transplanted them to other areas of the garden where they are much more at home.  They can be kept to a smaller size with constant trimming back, but then the berry production is affected.  The nice thing about Burford hollies is that this holly is self pollinating.  Other hollies may be male or female, and the two are needed  to produce berries but not the Burfords.  If you have only one, they will still produce berries.






At this time of year, I certainly do appreciate our dwarf Burford hollies for the seasonal color and interest they bring to the garden.


  1. Brenda Kula said,

    December 8, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    I guess this is what I have, which are virtually big trees now, that I have the ornaments on.

  2. Chandramouli said,

    December 8, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Hmmm…. Sounds interesting… Are the berries edible?

  3. tina said,

    December 8, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Great you were able to save them. I too bought ‘dwarf’ burfords, but mine are not happy where they are planted. Your advice is spot on with dwarf not meaning small.

  4. Alex said,

    December 8, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    They are pretty…I regret planting the Russian Sage that my mother-n-law gave me…it keeps taking over other things in my side garden. 😦

    Hope you had a good Monday. 🙂

  5. Jan said,

    December 9, 2008 at 5:35 am

    Brenda, it could be. These Burfords can get tall and wide. Very pretty in the appropriate spot.

    No, Chandramouli, the berries are not edible, but the birds will eat them, esp. robins in the spring.

    Tina, if they are not too big, maybe you should try and move them. Nothing like learning the hard way to make sure you do a little research on what is appropriate to plant.

    Alex, these are very pretty esp. in the winter when the berries turn red. Unfortunately, to keep it in check, some years there are few berries because of having to trim them back.

  6. Randy said,

    December 9, 2008 at 6:41 am

    My house originally had Bufords planted in front of it. I chopped them down and dug them up. Thirteen years later the roots are still putting up shoots. 🙂

  7. Gail said,

    December 9, 2008 at 7:48 am

    I remember reading that dwarf didn’t mean small that sometimes it meant slower growing…Nice to know that we can transplant hollies, too. I am really thankful for the internet. gail

  8. Phillip said,

    December 9, 2008 at 11:46 am

    I have a love/hate relationship with them. Our property is bordered by our neighbors by a massive holly hedge. It is technically on their property but guess who keeps it trimmed?

  9. Jan said,

    December 10, 2008 at 5:38 am

    Randy, I can understand you having to take down ones in front of your house. If we had not moved ours when they were still rather small, we would have the same problem.

    Gail, it is not only that we can learn so much from the Internet, it is that so much knowledge is available within seconds. No more having to go to a library and look things up. It is just amazing.

    Phillip, I can understand that love/hate relationship. It is a shame they don’t keep it up themselves, but the hollies do make a lovely border with seasonal interest.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: