Ilex aquifolium 'MADAME BRIOT'

Ilex aquifolium
Ilex aquifolium  'MADAME BRIOT'
English holly - female
SIZE/TYPE medium-sized shrub
 taller shrub
LEAVES evergreen broadleaf
COLOUR OF LEAVES varigated:yellow and green
FLOWERS insignificant or non-blooming
LOCATION full to partial sun
SOIL TYPE acidic (peaty)
SOIL MOISTURE REQUIREMENTS evenly moist but well-drained
USDA zone (lowest) 6   (down to -23°C)
FOR ZONE 5+6 Code of winter protection zone 5+6
FOR ZONE 7 Code of winter protection zone 7
BELONGS TO CATEGORIES Evergreen broadleaf
Hedging plants
náhled fotonáhled fotonáhled foto
English hollies are among the most common evergreen and native plants of milder parts of Europe with high humidity – British Isles, north France, Benelux countries, and milder parts of north Germany. Various species form trees, shrubs, or thickets. They are absent from natural Central European landscape but can be cultivated without problems. They are renowned for glossy, often prickly leaves, and multiple variegated forms have been selected for garden cultivation.

Madame Briot is a respectable lady in the world of hollies when it comes to age. It was introduced by Pierre-Louis Briot around 1850’s but unfortunately we could not trace back any notes regarding its origin – whether it was a sport of another holly or a result of a controlled breeding programme. It boasts highly attractive variegated foliage whose colour gets deeper in autumn and winter.

Leaves of Madame Briot holly are 4-6 cm long, spiny, evergreen, leathery, glossy, dark green in the centre, and pale to rich yellow at margins. Young leaves emerge rich purple-pink, just like the new twigs. Being a female plant, it produces (not many) small red berries in autumn if pollinated by a male plant growing nearby. They are not edible nor poisonous but contain saponins which cause severe discomfort if eaten.

It grows moderately, 15-25 cm per year into a narrowly pyramidal, upright habit. It is commonly pruned for achieving a more compact shape. Its evergreen foliage can brighten up even the coldest winter days with its cheerful colour. Mature plants reach about 3m tall in C.E. climate, however, in warmer countries with higher humidity they may get twice as large.

It bears a name of a French botanist and nurseryman Pierre-Louis Briot (1804-1888) whose father Louis-Dennis was a chief gardener of the gardens of Trianon in Versailles near Paris, France. In 1858 Pierre managed to breed his own variety of horse chestnut with pink flowers named Briotii, and he also came up with this holly variety that he dedicated to his mother.

Grow hollies in moist but well-drained, fertile soil. They can take periods of drought once established but dislike compacted, heavy-clay-based soils that turn very dry in summer, and often too wet in winter. If your soil is such, dig the planting hole only half the depth of the root ball, refine what you dig out and mix well with quality substrate of highly acidic level (low pH value). Using this mixture make a gradual slope from the stem to the original ground level and tamp it down as much as you can. Your root ball should not look like a molehill but more like a wide and flat mound. Mulch it well and keep watering it more often as it will be more prone to drying out as opposed to most common flat-in-the-ground transplanting. Hollies do best in full sun but can also grow in shade where they will lose their compact habit. Before and during winter when the soil is not frozen provide good watering. Hardy to about -26°C (USDA zone 5b).

Last update 21-03-2007; 21-11-2021

Ilex aquifolium
Ilex aquifolium
Ilex aquifolium
  • STANDARD QUALITY - Plants of this group are 1st class quality with number of branches and overall density adequate to their size and age, considering they were container grown.
  • DE LUXE QUALITY - This label guarantees a luxurious quality of manually selected plants that, compared to their height and age, are exceptionally dense and beautiful.
  • EXTRA - These plants are usually mature and bigger specimens with exceptional overall appearance.
  • STANDARD (as described in the plant form) means a tree with a trunk of 190-210 cm and a crown at the top, unless specified differently. The commercial size for trees is their girth measured in the height of 1m from ground.
  • HOBBY - These plants are of the same quality as our standard-quality plants but younger and therefore cheaper.
  • SHRUB - a woody plant with branches growing bushy from the ground level.
  • HALF-STANDARD or MINI-STANDARD - a small tree with shorter trunk, its size is usually specified.
  • FEATHERED - These are trees with branches growing already from the base of the trunk and up along the stem.
  • GRASSES and PERENNIALS - Sizes given usually read the diameter of the pot or the clump, as specified.
LARGE PLANTS over 150 cmspecimens, screening and hedging shrubs

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