Burford Hollies – Leaves Change to Spiny

Q: After a severe pruning on our Burford hollies, the oval-shaped leaves with one spine have reverted back to a leaf with spines all around, making them intolerable to work near. Can I force them back to the original leaf?

A: Every ‘Burford’ holly in the world originated from a chance seedling discovered by Thomas W. Burford when he was a gardener at Westview Cemetery in southwest Atlanta. Its parentage is not certain but at least some of ‘Burford’ holly’s lineage includes Chinese holly, Ilex cornuta, a spiny terror. It’s common for ‘Burford’ holly to sprout limbs that revert back to its Chinese holly ancestors. About the best you can do is put on a leather jacket and use long handled pruners to clip out the offending limbs at their base.

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