Considering the Japanese Holly Shrub?

The Japanese holly shrub is probably one of the most desirable species of holly around. Although the leaves of this shrub are fairly small, the density of this particular species of holly makes it a terrific candidate for decorative and privacy hedging, a gardening accent piece, or even a “focal point” in your garden. We are going to go over the physical appearance of the Japanese holly plant as well as the must-know care tips involved in maintaining beautiful holly that will thrive for years.

Japanese holly, or ilex crenata, has glossy dark green leaves. The fruit that this shrub bears is actually black, which sets it apart from many species of holly which only bear red fruit. I should also point out that only the female plants bear fruit. As this shrub can be quite bushy, it is often used as a hedge in lieu of fencing, or arranged in gardens and then shaped into rounded or artsy shapes (topiary). This is a very hardy species of holly and has proven even tougher in cold climates than box shrubs, which are the most popular type of shrub used today. Although the Japanese holly is on the slow side when it comes to growing, it can live for up to 100 years if properly cared for, which more than compensates for a slow start!

When planting this shrub, it is important that you understand its basic environmental needs and ensure that you can meet them. This will save you a great deal of disappointment, which is often experienced when people aren’t prepared for the responsibility of growing this type of shrub. The Japanese holly needs to be in a spot that offers either full sun or partial shade. A fully shaded area will not provide this shrub with the vital nutrients it needs to bloom properly.

If you feel you can provide the right amount of sun to keep this species of holly happy and healthy, then it’s time to consider the soil of said area. Holly needs moist soil, but it is also imperative that the soil is able to drain water effectively. When water is allowed to pool in the soil it can rot away the roots, hindering the plant’s growth or killing it off entirely. You may also want to see about getting an acid treatment that adjusts the soil’s pH levels to 4.5 – 5.5, which is an ideal range for this plant. When it’s time to plant the holly, you can use bare roots or a fresh cutting from another plant. To propagate from cuttings, place several two inch lengths of cuttings upright in a seed tray filled with a 50/50 mixture of soil and compost. Go ahead and pinch off the leaves of the bottom portion of the cuttings. Allow them to grow here for about a year so that they can establish a root system before transplanting them into their permanent home.

This species of holly can grow anywhere from three to fifteen feet tall, which makes it a very versatile plant! It can also be very intrusive; therefore it requires a moderate amount of maintenance when it comes to trimming. The main growth periods occur during the spring and summer seasons, which is most likely when you will find yourself out there with the power trimmer or garden shears.

Overall, you really can’t go wrong with a Japanese holly shrub—even if you are a novice at shrubbery or gardening altogether. Whether you are the creative sort who is looking for a good plant to “sculpt” into your latest garden masterpiece or if you simply like the idea of a classy and elegant shrub to line the perimeter of your garden, you are sure to find this species of shrub to be a perfect suit!


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