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

Privacy shrubs and trees that are safe for horses in California
June 16, 2012 - What type of privacy shrubs/trees can I plant that are safe around horses? I live in the central valley in CA. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Combining native shrubs for hedge in Austin
April 15, 2009 - Smarty, Please tell me what the definitions are for all the various water, soil moisture, drainage and light requirements mean. Are the definitions global? I live in Central East Austin and inten...
view the full question and answer

Drought Tolerant Shrubs and Perennials in San Jose, CA
July 18, 2013 - Hello I am a SLT home owner in San Jose, Ca. and want to plant drought tolerant shrubs and perennials. We don't have irrigation but plan to put a timer on a nozzle and run some lines. At least I am t...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for plants for bioswales in Philadelphia, PA
August 24, 2015 - Hello, Are there a handful of species you would recommend for inclusion in bioswales throughout the US? I realize plants need to be selected based on climate, but I'm wondering if there are two or...
view the full question and answer

Non-native red-tip photinias dying in San Antonio
August 20, 2009 - A 17 year old Red tip Photinia in a hedge shows signs of dying. The main stalks are quite large and offshoots from two of the stalks have brittle, drooping leaves. The center of the plant looks norm...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center