The Japanese Holly (Crenata) is generally described as a perennial tree or shrub. This is not n" >

Japanese holly

Japanese holly

The Japanese Holly (Crenata) is generally described as a perennial tree or shrub. This is not native to the U.S. (United States) and has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the mid spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the spring and continuing until summer. Leaves are retained year to year. The Japanese Holly (Crenata) has a long life span relative to most other plant species and a slow growth rate. At maturity, the typical Japanese Holly (Crenata) will reach up to 10 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 4 feet.

The Japanese Holly (Crenata) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, cuttings. It has a none ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have low vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -13°F. has medium tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Most gardeners wrongly consider Japanese holly to be a member of the box family. However, Japanese holly, also known as Ilex Crenata, belongs to the holly family. Japanese holly is an evergreen shrub with soft leaves. It has small, silky, dark green leaves that are oval in shape with little scalloped edges.

Japanese holly is commonly found in gardens of North America, Korea and Japan. It is often planted as an alternative to boxwood. In Japan, locals clip the Japanese holly into pom-poms or intricate cloud shaped bushes. They have calm green gardens with a carpet of moss that serves perfectly as a background for the dark green leaves of the Japanese holly that can live up to a 100 years.

Japanese holly can be used in formal gardens along with other foliage plants. London Pride, black-leaved Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ etc. can all grow well with Japanese holly. Japanese holly has a slow growth, which makes it perfect for small gardens. Here are some tips to grow Japanese holly in your garden.

Japanese holly can be pruned after new growth turns dark green, and will tolerate severe pruning, making it a good choice for hedges. Before the onset of winter, mulch, grass clippings or leaves should be placed around the base of the plant to protect roots from freezing.

Japanese holly can live up to 80 years; the plant becomes increasingly dense with age. Some bushes have been known to grow to a height of 15 feet. Spider mites can pose a problem in hot, dry locations.

Soil and Location

Japanese holly needs a moist, rich, acidic soil with thick mulch and good drainage for its healthy growth. These shrubs are easy to grow on all kind of soils as they adapt easily and tolerate clay and lime.

Like all the other hollies, the Japanese holly has male and female forms, but only the female forms can bear berries. Plant them in a location that has full sunlight along with some shade.

Japanese holly can grow very well in pots, but make sure that you check on it to prevent the roots from freezing. Place them in sheltered pots in bad weather and feed them slow-release plant food to maintain healthy foliage. The Japanese holly shrub can tolerate humidity, wind, slope and heat. The water range should be from normal to moist.


You can grow Japanese holly by stem sections and semi-cuttings. Start looking for new shoots in July to September. Growing Japanese holly from seeds takes around 2 to 3 years for germination.

Cut the shoots up to 1.5 to 12 inches in length and place them in seed trays with 50 percent horticultural sand and 50 percent compost, stripping off the lower leaves. Place the cuttings in a cold frame for a year before placing them in pots individually.

After planting, if it produces a strong shoot of about 12 inches, slash the stem into four parts and place all of them in a 3 inch pot. They will root slowly, but yield larger plants quickly.

You can also grow Japanese holly with spring bulbs in containers, but see to it that you use only small spring bulbs as they can obstruct the height of these low-growing shrubs.

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