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Nelly R Stevens Holly just planted need help

Hello, I just planted 10 holly on Tuesday the 23rd. They came from Tennessee and there was a note that came with the package that said I should cut them down to the ground because it was coming from a different zone. I e-mailed the company about this to clarify and this is the response I got back. "tops off will come back full" .... so that doesn't clarify anything. Except maybe to do the opposite of actually cutting it down to the ground. What do you think I should do? I'm in zone 7 and the nursery is from Altamont, Tennessee. Should I just prune? Or should I actually cut all the way down to the ground? Please be very specific as I am new to all of this and I want to do it right.

Also I'm worried because we might be getting a freeze on the 27th. I know they are supposed to be able to survive the temps but I'm worried since they were just planted it might be hard for them.

I'm not sure if the next information is helpful but I'm posting it just in case.
Oct 23 - High 88 Low 54
Oct 24 - High 88 Low 60
Oct 25 - High 72 Low 37
Oct 26 - High 55 Low 30
Oct 27 - High 57 Low 54
Oct 28 - High 64 Low 39

So as you can see it will warm back up but I just want to make sure this one *possible* freeze isn't going to harm them.

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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

I can't really answer your question because I haven't tried purchasing a large evergreen online/mail order. -- how big were they?

Anyway, this variety holly is listed as hardy to zone 6 so you should be OK as far as that goes. I would mulch heavily to protect it from freeze-thaw cycle ground heaving and to protect the still shallow roots, but that would be just before freezing temps arrive.

Now, what I'm going to say after this are just general thoughts and not necessarily applicable, OK?

This holly is supposed to grow into pyramidal (Christmas tree) shape, so I would think if that's what you are looking for, cutting them down to the ground would make them end up with multiple leaders.

As far as I know, best time to prune holly is just before hard freeze -- or early Winter. For me, that would be sometime between beginning of December and end of December, making it ideal for cutting holiday decorations. I don't know when it would be for your area. With that in mind, now doesn't seem like the best time to chop down holly trees down to the ground.... :?

On the other hand, generaly speaking, unless shrubs/trees are pot-grown, significant portion of root system is lost when they are dug up, so it makes sense to balance by pruning the top. But some people advocate letting the plant recover what it can, then pruning off the branches and foliage that die off.

So, don't know if that helped at all, but hopefully other members with more experience in this area will chime in.

Oh, basic care after planting -- I generally follow the rule of thumb to water thoroughly -- soak in completely -- once a day for three days, then every other day for a week, then once a week for a month. Soil and drainage conditions as well as rainfall may necessitate adjustments.

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They were all in between 2 - 3 feet no idea how old but I do know they were dug out of the ground before being shipped to me. Thank you for your answers. I'm glad I decided to research before I actually cut them down cause I'm thinking you are right and it's not the right thing to do. :)

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If you lose parts of your plant I would cut the dead wood but I don't think you should cut the tops out of the plants. It might be a bit late for me to be answering this though. I'd appreciate an update if possible!


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