En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Transplanting and germination of Pride of Barbados in Adkins, TX
April 02, 2012 - What is the root system like of the Pride of Barbados? I have a lot of new plants coming up in my beds from seeds. Can these be transplanted to a new location easily without damaging the plants? If...
view the full question and answer

Fruit crops to grow in Tennessee mountains
May 27, 2013 - My property has a lot of rock formations throughout it and has hundreds of cedars where it is not pasture. I am wanting to grow fruit trees and berry bushes but don't know what can grow in this e...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of shrub with thorns and purple flowers
July 05, 2011 - I have a small tree or shrub, it has very small or thin thorns on the branches. It blooms in April / May. The flowers are purple. My mother-in-law said that it has been around for over 100 years, b...
view the full question and answer

Protecting hibiscus from cold in Eastern Washington State
July 28, 2006 - I recently purchased a Hibiscus Brilliant Red. I planted it in an area of my garden that will give it full sun for most of the day. In the Pacific Northwest where I live (Eastern Washington) it can ge...
view the full question and answer

Revegetating a hillside in western Washington state
October 10, 2012 - Removing several downed trees across my dock demolished the native plants growing on the hillside and the contractor pulled out their remains. The area faces east on an open freshwater bay. Close to...
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center