En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - November 08, 2013

From: Pennington, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Is Ilex glabra a Good Substitute Hedge for Boxwood?
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I am planning a new garden in my yard (Mercer County, NJ). My site is south-facing, average water and average soil. The aesthetic look that I want is formal; a tightly sheared hedge of small leaves about 1-2 ft. tall. Previously I would have used boxwood. I would like to use natives to achieve this aesthetic look. Does Ilex glabra take frequent pruning (for shaping) well? Would I. glabra be a good substitute for boxwood?

ANSWER:

The native species Ilex glabra (inkberry or gallberry) is a tall shrub 6-12 ft tall with glossy evergreen foliage. It has small, round black berries that persist into winter on the female plant (Hollies are dioecious and have male and female plants). The plant does withstand heavy pruning but does tend to get leggy.  Also watch as hollies have toxic properties if ingested.
The University of Connecticut horticulture website has several cultivars that are somewhat smaller and more compact than the species, but not quite as small as you would like. These include ‘Compacta’ (6’), ‘Ivory Queen’ (8’), ‘Leucocarpa’ (8’), ‘Alba’ (8’), ‘Chamzin’ (4’) and ‘Shamrock’ (3-5’). Ilex glabra is a very nice plant and a good substitute for some of the taller boxwood.

Mr. Smarty Plants answered a request for low growing evergreen hedge plants for Staten Island that offered two less formal (but still 1-2 ft tall and evergreen) suggestions for you to look at.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Inkberry
Ilex glabra

More Shrubs Questions

Are American Hazelnuts Self-Fertile?
November 06, 2014 - I planted an American Hazelnut a couple of years ago that I ordered from a catalog. Is this plant self-fertile or do I need to plant another one? I have seen conflicting information on this subject.
view the full question and answer

Using non-native Red-Tip Photinia as a mulch from Pittsburg TX
March 23, 2011 - Wondering if its ok to use Red Tip Phontinia as a mulch? thanks
view the full question and answer

Shrubs with berries for birds and growing small red oak tree
September 16, 2007 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Recently, I saw a short article about attracting birds to one's yard. The article said to plant "berry-bearing" shrubs, but didn't name any specific shrubs. Could you tell...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Green Cloud purple sage in Buda TX
May 30, 2009 - I planted the "Green Cloud" variety of purple sage about 3 years ago. Yesterday, I noticed yellowish dots on the underside of the leaves of some plants. Is this harmful? The plants seem to be ok ...
view the full question and answer

Toxic trees and shrubs in Pennsylvania
September 30, 2008 - I have a long property edge that I have been gradually transforming from a former cattle pasture into a hedgerow of native trees and shrubs. Cattle still graze on the other side. Are there any toxic...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center