Inkberry

Learn more about this evergreen shrub and its ability to adapt to different environments.

Plant type: Evergreen shrub
Botanical name: Ilex glabra
Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 to 9

Dark green, lustrous leaves that are longer and more slender than that of I. crenata and a somewhat looser habit gives this wonderful evergreen a tidy but relaxed air. The species grows six to eight feet high and eight to 10 feet wide, but there are smaller cultivars. Berries are black on the species, but some of the cultivars have white fruit.

Cultivation: Very accommodating, inkberry adapts to a wide range of soils--acid or alkaline, dry or wet--and in sunny to moderately shady sites.

How to use it: Think of the inkberry as performing the same services as Japanese holly, just a little looser and more informally. Use it in masses, as a foundation planting (give it room to expand a bit) or as a great filler on lightly shady slopes.

Selected cultivars:

  • 'Nordic' is a compact form to three to four feet high and wide. Tends to drop its leaves near the base and get leggy.
  • 'Compacta' is smaller than the species but is nevertheless a good-sized shrub, averaging four to six (and sometimes more) feet tall and wide. Also tends to drop its lower leaves.
  • 'Nigra' holds its leaves near the base. Average size--four feet high and wide.
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