Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Foster Holly, Foster's Holly
Ilex x attenuata 'Fosteri'

Family: Aquifoliaceae (a-kwee-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ilex (EYE-leks) (Info)
Species: x attenuata (at-ten-yoo-AY-tuh) (Info)
Cultivar: Fosteri
Additional cultivar information: (aka Fosterii)

One member has or wants this plant for trade.


15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
Provides winter interest

Soil pH requirements:
4.5 or below (very acidic)
4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

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2 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive rosepetal2 On Apr 24, 2013, rosepetal2 from Danvers, MA wrote:

Some hollies do better in cooler climates with a brief period of cold and the fosteri holly is one. I purchased three young plants from a grower in Calif (seedlings 16-18") early 2012 and tucked them away in an obscure part of my garden for the season. The 3 are now 24-28" and I plan to transplant at the end of a Leyland Cypress screen and cedar fence which will provide a buffer from winter elements. The grower indicated the plants were Fosteri #2 Z6-9 15-20 ft height and spread of 8-10 ft - which is consistent with Missouri Botanical Garden... "Foster #2 is a small to medium-sized, broadleaf evergreen tree with a dense, upright, pyramidal habit. It typically grows to a mature height of 20-30' tall with a spread of 10-15' unless pruned." "...Introduced into cultivation in the 1950s by E. E. Foster of Foster Nursery in Bessemer, Alabama."

I believe only the #2 commercially available. All three of mine produced berries. I'm Z6B

Positive djbeckett On Nov 23, 2012, djbeckett from Dallas, TX wrote:

While on a trip to Tennessee in the mid '90s we saw these beautiful Foster hollies, and had to have one. They were at least 20' tall, covered with red berries and shaped like a Christmas tree. Not knowing anything about plants, we picked what looked like a healthy plant, brought back to Dallas Tx. and planted.

Years later, it's still alive. Never produced any berries, and today is only 6' tall. I've finally did some research and learned several things. Although not positive of our specific variety, I think it needs a opposite gender to pollinate for berries. I also planted directly from the pot, so no telling if it suffers from girdled roots. I think I've watered correctly. Soil samples sent to Texas A & M confim a 7.5 Ph level, so I tried to ammend with peat moss, general purpose fertilizers and soil acidifier. I've only recently covered the drip line area with mulch. Despite my best efforts to kill the plant, it still stays a beautiful green throughout the year.
I sit here writing, trying to figure out how to determine its gender and buy its mate to produce berries (I found one site where examining its leaves can determine male/female). I have no place to put another plant, so I am considering growing one from a pot.
I buried my father in Dyserburg, Tenn.; that's why I was there. My first sighting of the hollies were at the funeral home, so the plant means a lot to me. Any info. I find may help the plant thrive.

I've found additional info.: Through research I found that foster #1 and #3 are not common. The #4 is a male: it has stamens coming from the flower, whereas the female has a green berry in the flower center. I've gone to a local dallas tx. nursery and found a #2 (it had a few berries), and planted within 75' of the male.

Unfortunately, internet information can conflict. I found that a #4 can produce berries! This being mid-November, I await flower production to really know what I have.

Neutral dogbane On Nov 11, 2003, dogbane from New Orleans, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

When healthy, this is a beautiful tree. But it is highly susceptible to white fly, scale and aphids, all of which can induce sooty mold.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Montgomery, Alabama
Miramar Beach, Florida
Decatur, Georgia
Suwanee, Georgia
Indianapolis, Indiana
Wichita, Kansas
Harrodsburg, Kentucky
Symsonia, Kentucky
New Orleans, Louisiana
Valley Lee, Maryland
Danvers, Massachusetts
Saint Louis, Missouri
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Owasso, Oklahoma
Summerville, South Carolina
Germantown, Tennessee
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Dallas, Texas (2 reports)

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