Ilex crenata is an evergreen plant native to Eastern China and Japan and is a perfect alternative to the more recently problematic Buxus.
The small leaves are rounded, dark green and glossy, very similar in appearance to Buxus, but can be identified by its alternate (not opposite) leaf arrangement and the crenate / toothed margin. Its resistance to pests and diseases, in particular blight, make it an ideal substitute. In late spring, it produces a delicate white flower followed in autumn by small insignificant black berries.
Japanese Holly grows well on all but heavy soils and makes a handsome topiary specimen. The evergreen and compact habit allows it to often be clipped into cones, balls, spirals, bonsai and hedges.
Ilex crenata Fastigiata is an upright columnar form of Japanese Holly. It can be clipped to keep it dense or left to grow as a specimen plant.
Name: Ilex crenata
Common Name: Japanese Holly
Demands: Will grow well on all but heavy soils
Foliage: Small rounded leaves, dark green and glossy with a crenate margin
Flower: Very small white flower in spring
Fruit: Small, insignificant berries follow the flowers, ripening black in autumn.
Japanese: イヌツゲ inutsuge.
Cloud pruning (see bonsai example below) is a Japanese method of training trees or shrubs to resemble clouds. Known as Niwaki it translates as 'garden tree'.
Ilex crenata balls 80-90cm wide
Japanese Holly domes 1.8-2.0m in airpot container
Close up of the glossy foliage
Ilex crenata Fastigiata
Unripe berries of Ilex crenata
Ilex crenata container grown bonsai specimens
Japanese Holly balls in airpot container