Oakland Holly vs. Oakleaf Holly: Unraveling the Distinctions Between Two Stunning Holly Varieties

Oakland Holly vs. Oakleaf Holly

Oakland Holly vs. Oakleaf Holly: Unraveling the Distinctions Between Two Stunning Holly Varieties


Holly plants are beloved for their glossy evergreen leaves and vibrant red berries, adding a touch of elegance and color to landscapes throughout the year. Among the diverse holly species, the Oakland Holly and Oakleaf Holly are two popular choices known for their beauty and versatility. If you’re looking to incorporate a holly plant into your garden or landscape, understanding the differences between these two varieties is essential. In this article, we will explore the characteristics, growth habits, and landscape uses of the Oakland Holly and Oakleaf Holly.

1. Oakland Holly: Graceful Symmetry and Rich Foliage

The Oakland Holly (Ilex aquifolium ‘Oakland’) is a cultivar of the English holly, known for its striking symmetrical growth habit and glossy, dark green leaves. Its leaves have distinctive spines along the margins, adding texture and interest to the foliage. The Oakland Holly is a slow-growing evergreen shrub that can reach a height of 8 to 10 feet at maturity.

2. Oakleaf Holly: Distinctive Oak-Shaped Leaves

The Oakleaf Holly (Ilex x ‘Conaf’) is a hybrid holly variety resulting from a cross between two holly species, Ilex cornuta and Ilex aquifolium. True to its name, the Oakleaf Holly bears leaves that resemble the shape of oak leaves, giving it a unique and charming appearance. The leaves are deep green with toothed edges, creating an attractive contrast against the red berries. This holly variety is a moderately fast grower and can reach a height of 15 to 20 feet at maturity.

3. Comparing Growth Habits and Sizes

One of the primary distinctions between the Oakland Holly and Oakleaf Holly is their growth habits and sizes. While both are evergreen shrubs, the Oakland Holly is generally more compact and has a slower growth rate, making it suitable for smaller garden spaces or containers. On the other hand, the Oakleaf Holly tends to be larger and more vigorous, making it an excellent choice for creating hedges or as a focal point in larger landscapes.

4. Foliage and Berry Colors

Both holly varieties exhibit glossy, dark green leaves that maintain their vibrant color throughout the year. However, the Oakland Holly leaves have a slightly deeper shade of green compared to the Oakleaf Holly. In terms of berry colors, the Oakland Holly produces bright red berries, while the Oakleaf Holly berries are typically a rich orange-red hue. The berries of both varieties provide a stunning contrast against the lush green foliage during the winter months.

5. Tolerance to Environmental Conditions

Both the Oakland Holly and Oakleaf Holly are hardy plants that tolerate a range of environmental conditions. They thrive in well-draining soil and prefer locations with partial to full sun exposure. These holly varieties are adaptable to different soil types, including clay and loamy soils. While they are generally drought-tolerant once established, regular watering is essential during the initial establishment period.

6. Landscape Uses and Design Applications

The compact size and slow growth of the Oakland Holly make it an ideal choice for foundation plantings, small hedges, or accent plants in gardens and landscapes. Its symmetrical growth habit and glossy foliage add an elegant touch to any setting. On the other hand, the taller and more vigorous Oakleaf Holly is well-suited for creating privacy screens, windbreaks, or tall hedges. Its distinctive oak-shaped leaves make it an eye-catching focal point in larger landscapes.

7. Pruning and Maintenance

Both holly varieties require minimal pruning and maintenance once established. Regular pruning can be done to shape the plants or remove any dead or diseased branches. It’s essential to wear gloves while pruning hollies due to their spiny leaves. Lightly fertilizing the plants in the spring can promote healthy growth and berry production.

8. Planting and Care Tips

When planting either the Oakland Holly or Oakleaf Holly, it’s crucial to prepare the soil well by amending it with organic matter. Proper watering during the initial establishment phase is essential for the plants to develop a robust root system. Applying a layer of mulch around the base of the plants can help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.

9. Disease and Pest Resistance

Both the Oakland Holly and Oakleaf Holly are relatively resistant to diseases and pests. However, like all holly plants, they may occasionally encounter issues such as leaf spot or scale insects. Regular monitoring of the plants and prompt treatment of any problems can help maintain their health and beauty.

10. Choosing the Right Holly for Your Landscape

Selecting between the Oakland Holly and Oakleaf Holly depends on your specific landscape needs and preferences. If you’re looking for a compact and symmetrical holly with a slower growth rate, the Oakland Holly is an excellent choice. For larger landscapes and a unique oak-shaped leaf appearance, the Oakleaf Holly is a captivating option.


Both the Oakland Holly and Oakleaf Holly are outstanding choices for adding beauty and charm to your garden or landscape. Whether you prefer the graceful symmetry of the Oakland Holly or the distinctive oak-shaped leaves of the Oakleaf Holly, both varieties are sure to enhance the visual appeal of any outdoor space throughout the year.


Are holly plants toxic to pets?

Yes, holly plants, including the Oakland and Oakleaf Holly, are toxic to pets if ingested. It’s essential to keep them out of reach of pets and children.

Do holly plants require full sun exposure?

While holly plants prefer partial to full sun exposure, they can tolerate some shade. However, they tend to produce more berries and exhibit better growth in sunnier locations.

Can I use holly berries for holiday decorations?

Yes, holly berries are commonly used for holiday decorations, such as wreaths and centerpieces. However, caution should be exercised as they are toxic if ingested.

Can holly plants be grown in containers?

Yes, both the Oakland Holly and Oakleaf Holly can be grown in containers, especially when young. Ensure proper drainage and regular watering for healthy growth.

Do holly plants attract wildlife?

Holly berries are attractive to birds, making holly plants a popular choice for bird-friendly landscapes.

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