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

Native Plants for a Steep Slope in TN
July 15, 2014 - Hello, I live in Knoxville, TN and have a very steep slope in our backyard. There is a lot of water erosion causing our grass to be covered with red dirt. I would love to try to plant something on thi...
view the full question and answer

Low growing native shrubs to go next to a rock pool deck
July 29, 2004 - I have a pool surrounded by a rock deck, & want to plant some low-growing shrubs next to the deck. However, I want to ensure the root system of the plant isn't invasive enough to crack the rock deck ...
view the full question and answer

Low Ground Cover for Steep, Shaded PA Site
February 17, 2014 - I am located in Downingtown, PA, right on the border between Zone 6 and 7. Please provide a recommendation of a native ground cover for the following conditions: steep slope (greater than 45%), full s...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting Ilex x attenuata (Savannah holly)
July 31, 2014 - Is it hard to take a savannah holly out of my front yard? Do the roots grow down deep or are they more shallow? I can only take a 36-40 rootball circumference because of surrounding established shru...
view the full question and answer

Native shrubs for wildlife santuary in Georgia
March 27, 2009 - We live south of Atlanta, GA and are trying to have our backyard certified as a Wildlife Sanctuary. Can you suggest native shrubs that thrive in partial sun, are habitats for bird and are deer resist...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center