When talking about Ilex, remember there are more than 400 species within this deciduous and evergreen tree family. Some are even categorized as climbers and shrubs from various regions to include tropical and subtropical. The Ilex species of Holly have small, smooth leaves make the best choice for bonsai. You will also enjoy both male and female flowers.
The two most popular choices for bonsai are the Japanese Evergreen Holly (Ilex crenata) and the Japanese Winterberry (Ilex Serrata). The Japanese Evergreen Holly is an evergreen shrub with beautiful, scalloped, dark green leaves. The flowers produced are white, which may or may not produce shiny black berries. This particular shrub originates from Korea, Japan, and even regions within Russia. Some of the best species for bonsai include Ivory Tower, Stokes, and Convexa.
Regardless of the species that you choose for bonsai, you want to provide both sun and shade. However, this shrub must have protection from cooler temperatures to avoid stress. For feeding, the Holly bonsai needs food every two weeks during the growing period. Pruning is used to help shape the Holly. While you can wire this shrub, you need to be extra careful when wiring since the branches tend to be brittle.
The Holly should be repotted every year during the spring, just as new buds start to extend. When repotting, be sure to use a good quality soil. You can propagate the Holly by sewing seeds outside in the fall. Just remember that germination takes between two and three years. Another option is to use semi-ripe cuttings in late summer or early fall. The Holly looks great with any style, which is why it is a favorite of bonsai enthusiasts. Finally, aphids will commonly attack new shoots so keep careful watch during the growing season for pests.