Japanese Holly ‘Kanehirae’
Japanese holly ‘Kanehirae’ is somewhat exceptional within the category of Japanese hollies, as it is a cultivar of the ilex maximowicziana species rather than the ilex crenata. While Japanese holly ‘Kanehirae’ is in many ways identical to ilex crenata, Japanese holly ‘Kanehirae’ has larger leaves and a faster growth rate (25-30cm p.a.) compared to other Japanese holly cultivars. Japanese holly ‘Kanehirae’ is very similar to box (buxus) and can be a useful alternative to this classic hedging plant, as box may suffer from the destructive disease box blight. Also, Japanese holly ‘Kanehirae’ is more winter hardy than box, which paves the way for hedges in colder areas in the UK.
Japanese Holly ‘Kanehirae’ Planting and Maintenance
Japanese holly ‘Kanehirae’ is an evergreen with small, glossy dark green leaves, inconspicuous white flowers in spring and tiny berries in autumn. This relatively quick grower can grow to 2m tall and is easily trimmed. We recommend at least one trimming session a year, but remember that more trimmings will result in a neater, more compact hedge. Rigorous pruning will not harm the plants.
This hedging cultivar is completely trouble-free and will grow happily in a wide variety of soils and positions. Ideal conditions are a medium-fertile, moist, well-drained soil in sun to semi-shade. Full shade is tolerated, but best avoided. Dry conditions are tolerated once the plants are established. If you are looking for topiary specimens, it is probably best to pick one of the slower growing ilex crenata - or commit to more frequent clippings.
Uses of Japanese Holly ‘Kanehirae’
If you are looking for a privacy hedge, but do not need one immediately, ‘Kanehirae’ will definitely grow tall enough to be a decent screening hedge. It will take a couple of years before it reaches its ultimate height of about 2 metres, but once it does, its dense set of branches and leaves will guarantee your privacy during all months of the year. Japanese holly ‘Kanehirae’ is more commonly used to grow low border hedges though, for which purpose it is simply ideal. As stated before, it is possible to use Japanese holly ‘Kanehirae’ for topiary, but it is prone to lose its shape due to its relatively fast growth rate. ‘Convexa’ or ‘Green Hedge’ would be better varieties for topiary purposes.
Unique Japanese Holly Cultivar
Japanese holly ‘Kanehirae’ can certainly be considered the most unique of all available Japanese holly varieties. It grows slightly faster and is therefore able to grow taller than the average ilex crenata variety. Ilex maximowicziana does share a lot of qualities with the more popular Japanese holly species though. Due to the appearance of its foliage and its resistance to box blight, it simply makes an excellent alternative to box. In addition, it does not mind being trimmed at all and since its leaves are not too big, it is not difficult to keep the shape of your Japanese holly ‘Kanehirae’ very neat.