Q. Our community gardeners have destroyed the shape of our steeds holly by triming incorrectly. Will they die if I cut the tops off on order to reshape?
Hollies respond well to pruning. When dormant, as in winter, prune Ilex crenata 'Steed' tips back to promote side growth in the thin top section. You can cut back as much a foot without harming the plant. This cultivar can be grown like boxwood into a hedge. If it is still too thin next year, prune the tips back six inches the following winter. It should fillout nicely and better resemble the bottom 4 feet.