Japanese holly Ilex crenata Spherical
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Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata) will thrive in any moist, well-drained soil. Improve poor soil with the addition of a mix of compost and granulated cow manure. Stand your Japanese holly in a sunny spot. Protect young plants from harsh winter winds. Once established, your Japanese holly will be perfectly hardy.
Japanese holly (Ilex crenata) as hedging Dig a trench for your Ilex crenata hedge. Soak the plants roots overnight in a bucket of lukewarm water. Improve the soil with a mix of well-rotted manure and some granulated cow manure. Add sharp sand to clay soil. Divide the plants over the trench - you need 5-8 Japanese holly plants per metre. You could plant a double row too - alternating the plant along the trench. The top of the root ball should come to just below soil level. Keep in mind that the ground will give a little. Fill the trench with soil, heel all the plants well in and water enough to make it all marshy. We advise pruning the very tops off the bushes immediately after planting. Water regularly in the first year after planting.
Young holly plants need weekly watering. The root system is just below soil level so a young plant will be sensitive to drought – never allow the young plant to dry out and water them extra in their first year when the weather is dry.
Young plants should be given some wind protection. After a few years as they mature, they will become more wind tolerant.
Pruning Japanese holly (Ilex crenata) is easy to prune. Like box, (Buxus sempervirens) they make a great hedge and are fabulous used in topiary, where height often doesn't matter. Ilex crenata can be kept at 40 cm or it can grow to 4 metres high. This bush can easily reach 3 metres over 10 years. As it adapts well to pruning, you can still create low hedging or low topiary but it is also possible with full height hedging of 4-5 metres! This also applies to a solitary bush, either potted or in the garden.
Japanese Holly hedging can be pruned 2-4 times a year. This will keep it in good shape and not too wide. Try and keep the base wider than the top and work your way up from the bottom with your shears. Use a string spanned along the length of the hedge at the top to keep a nice straight finish. The first prune should be done in April and a good time for the 2nd cut is early to mid-June. After 21st June (the longest day) the bushes will start to shoot and you will have created room for this with that last pruning. Give your Japanese holly hedge another pruning in August and October to keep it tight.
A solitary standing Japanese Holly bush only needs pruning when you think it’s really necessary.
For hedging, Japanese holly has the advantage over boxwood because it will never be troubled with the dreaded disease that affects boxwood and can destroy whole hedges and topiary in no time. Japanese holly is resistant to the disease responsible for this (Cylindrocladium buxicola en Volutella buxi).
Ilex is classified under Aquifoliaceae.
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