Many Yaupon Choices

A multi-stem yaupon six plus years old

A three gallon yaupon planted this spring in a perfect location to grow big

Fruit of yaupon

Weeping yaupon specimen whose bottom limbs have been pruned up.

dwarf yaupon

Dwarf yaupon at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Japanese Garden, 2 years after being slightly shaped

Dwarf yaupon is very brittle. This is damage from them being hit.

This is one of the best of our native hollies. From the dwarf selections to the weeping types, to the native species, you can choose your look and size. While the dwarf yaupons do not fruit, the others all produce vibrant translucent fruit. Native especially across South Alabama, they like sandy moist soil, but I have them growing in the Birmingham red clay and doing great. Also, I have not seen any scale on mine, while my other hollies have had scale. Let me give you a few thoughts on each of the popular types. The native yaupons I grew up with are really classified as a large shrub or a small tree. They were very popular for hedges in the 60’s. I see them more often now as as a multi-stem specimen or a large shaped shrub, but they can really look neat left unpruned, removing only stray branches.
Weeping yaupons are really unique. I have seen them pruned to look like umbrellas with a single stem, left unpruned where they seem to be taller than they are wide, and also massed for a great weeping effect. Because it responds well to pruning, they are somewhat unique when it comes to weeping plants. And as a bonus many of the ones you can purchase today bear lots of fruit. One of the most unique uses I have ever seen was as a screen with a hole cut through a weeping hedge to separate a parking court from a lawn. As with all yaupons, their foliage thins in shade and are dense plants in sun.
Dwarf yaupon is the workhorse of the landscape folks. They are especially popular in builder landscapes. Generally planted small, they can get as tall as four to six feet. There are excellent specimens in the Japanese Garden at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, but even those are pruned every few years. That is part of the charm of dwarf yaupon, they respond well to pruning, so they are easily abused in commercial landscapes. Long used as a substitute for box in some folks mind’s (not mine), they will grow in most soils and in sun or shade, as long as they have adequate water (only need watering when dry, once established). The big negative is that they are very brittle, so they do not work well where they can be damaged.
So, take your choice. I bet one of these yaupons will look good in you home landscape.


John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

2 thoughts on “Many Yaupon Choices

  1. I want to create a barrier inside my fence. Would the dwarf youpons be a good choice? How close together do they need to be planted to make a barrier to the fence? How far from the fence should they be planted? Can they be left to grow naturally or must they be pruned? Is there a better choice of a native bush to accomplish this? The plant must not be toxic to dogs.

    • Dwarf yaupons will get about 4 feet high and equally as wide after 6-8 years if they are not pruned. While they respond well to pruning I would wait until the hedge is solid and too wide for your space to prune it. It is a good grower, cheap to purchase as plants go, and make a fine low hedge. The only negative about this plant in my mind is that it has brittle stems that break and while they will grow back if it is a heavy play area I might would consider something else.

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