Japanese Holly 'Green Hedge'

Japanese holly ‘Green Hedge’ is a variety of ilex crenata, a lovely hedging plant that has become very popular in recent years. Japanese holly is similar to the very traditional hedging plant buxus (box). It makes an excellent alternative to this classic hedging species, as box is prone to the quickly spreading box blight. As a bonus, it is slightly hardier than box, making it a great choice for hedges in the northern parts of the country as well.

Japanese Holly ‘Green Hedge’ for Low Hedges

Japanese holly ‘Green Hedge’ offers small glossy leaves (dark green in colour), a dense growth habit, complete tolerance of pruning and trimming (including aggressive cutbacks) and is hardly distinguishable from box. Ilex crenata ‘Green Hedge’ is perfectly suitable for topiary and smaller hedges, although it can grow to 2m tall without losing its shape. Ilex crenata ‘Green Hedge’ will grow 20-35cm a year, which is medium-fast. Prune during spring and summer to keep it in shape and to form a dense, evergreen hedge. Japanese holly ‘Green Hedge’ is ideally grown in a relatively fertile, moist and well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade, but is tolerant of less ideal conditions, such as poorer soils, full shade and dry periods (once the plants are established). Ilex crenata ‘Green Hedge’ produces tiny white flowers and insignificant black berries.

Japanese Holly ‘Green Hedge’ for Topiary

The name of this particular variety already gives away that Japanese holly ‘Green Hedge’ makes an excellent plant for low border hedges, the kind that are often seen in palace gardens. They are ideal for topiary as well, however, and have been used for that purpose increasingly lately. This of course has to do with the fact that it is immune to box blight, the disease that has destroyed many box shrubs in our part of the world in the last decade, and the appearance of Japanese holly, which in deed resembles that of box quite a lot. It is also important, however, that Japanese holly does not grow too fast and will therefore retain its shape a long time. As the species does grow somewhat faster than the exceptionally slow-growing box, some additional clippings may be necessary if you use Japanese holly ‘Green Hedge’ for topiary.

Japanese Holly ‘Green Hedge’ in Your Garden

Due to its small leaves, Japanese holly ‘Green Hedge’ is easy to clip to a neat shape. Of course, that could mean topiary, but it could just as well be a traditional low hedge. These qualities are exactly why people chose to plant box shrubs before box blight reared its head. Also, if you prune your Japanese holly ‘Green Hedge’ less frequently, the small white flowers and black berries that appear on the hedge will add some seasonal interest to your garden, despite not being very conspicuous.

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