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

Berries on cultivars of Ilex verticillata from Oak Park, IL
February 19, 2014 - I have three ilex verticillata cultivars (2 Nana, 1 Jim Dandy) planted on the west side of my house in a very shady site (there's a mature over-spreading hackberry on the parkway just to the west and...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Hedge for Maryland Porch
July 03, 2014 - I am working on a screen/fence, which is a barrier hedge between our house and our next door neighbor's house to add privacy to our screen porch and dining area, especially in winter. The fence would...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping north facing wall
November 08, 2010 - We live in the Dallas area and have a north facing home with a large, bare wall. I would like to plant a tall, flowering shrub that will look nice all year round. Or are there flowering vines that a...
view the full question and answer

Problems with rhododendrons in Germany
July 07, 2008 - I am writing with questions about rhododendrons. I purchased four small rhododendron/azalea hybrids in April. Because I had to prepare the garden before planting them, I left them in the pots they cam...
view the full question and answer

Rust on Amelancier Foliage in PA
February 03, 2015 - I live in Pennsylvania and have been plagued with a rust on my serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) trees over the past few years. I am unable to find very much information on this disease on the we...
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