In the wild, Hollyleaf Redberry can be found growing in both the shade of an oak understory and the blazing full sun of chaparral covered hills. In both situations, however, it likes to be protected from the full blast of the afternoon sun and will often shelter beneath and between larger shrubs to get a little shade.
An infamously slow-growing but tenacious species, Rhamnus ilicifolia will reward your patience with a handsome evergreen bearing shiny red berries in the summer. We use Hollyleaf Redberry extensively in the oak understory in the LANPS garden, where it thrives with little to no supplemental summer irrigation after about two seasons. That said, it enjoys an occasional, drink during the dry months and will provide a reliable source of greenery when all your other understory plants have gone dormant and dropped their leaves for the summer.
This is an under-appreciated local gem that deserves a place in more of LA’s native gardens.