Ilex crenata - Japanese Holly
Family: Aquifoliaceae

Hear the scientific name

Ilex crenata is an evergreen shrubs with relatively small, spineless leaves and black fruit. It is usually 3-10' tall, with a similar spread. Japanese Holly look more like a boxwood than a holly. It ranges from slow-growing to relatively fast-growing, and is a good choice for hedges. Japanese Holly tolerates severe pruning and is a good substitute for boxwood, especially in milder climates, zone 6 & 7, as it grows faster than boxwood but can be similarly pruned/sheared.

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  form Form

-broadleaf evergreen shrub

-5-8' tall x 5-8' wide

-usually seen as a much branched, shrub with a dense, rigid compact form of a rounded or broad rounded outline

-medium to slow growth rate (less than 12" per year)


-leaves alternate, simple, spineless, crowded, elliptic

-0.5-1.5" long x 0.3- 0.5" wide, dark green above, dotted beneath with blackish clear or translucent glands


-dioecious, unisexual, dull greenish white

-in leaf axils of current season's growth


-not showy


-black, berry-like, globose, 0.25" diameter

-Sept.-Oct., may persist into spring in mild climates

-borne under the foliage, inconspicuous


-stem normally green on currents season's growth, turning gray-green to gray-brown


-not applicable

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-sun to part shade

-prefers light, moist, slightly acid soils, with lots of organic matter; soil needs to be well-drained; does not like overly moist soil; regular watering, however, is needed to keep the plants looking their best; several inches of mulch will help preserve moisture in the soil

-withstands severe pruning

-winter injury in northern climates will be more severe on plants grown in the sun


-zones 5 or 6, depending on cultivar to 8


-native to Japan, Korea

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-shiny green leaves

-compact form that can be readily pruned


-in northern regions, the foliage can be injured by cold temperatures (however, some cultivars offer improved cold tolerance)

-will develop iron deficiency if the pH is too high


-shrub for foundations, borders, group plantings, mass plantings, formal or informal hedges, topiary backgrounds, specimens


-medium texture

-thick density

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Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species


-shrubs with broadleaf evergreen foliage (Buxus hybrids, Ilex x meserveae, Ilex opaca, Mahonia aquifolium, etc.)


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