Compact Inkberry Holly | Ilex glabra ‘Compacta’

When I say “holly” it probably puts a very specific image in your mind: bright green, shiny leaves with lots of jagged edges, and bright red berries too. Compact Inkberry Holly (Ilex glabra ‘Compacta’) is different, with its dark green leaves and dark bluish purple berries.

Inkberries are American native shrubs. They also tolerate wet soils, making them one of the few evergreen shrubs that do. Inkberry holly can be planted in full sun to partial shade. They will grow in full shade, but they get super thin and woody. A great example of this is along Davis Street in Culpeper, down by the Depot. The inberry have grown large, but the foliage is just this thin “crust” of green along the outside of the plants.

Compact inkberry holly grows to 3 to 4 feet tall and 4 to 6 feet wide. It’s a good evergreen foundation plant as long as it won’t need sheared or hedged. Inkberry’s natural shape just looks better than anything you may force it to be. I also like to use it for massing, especially creating large drifts along the edge of the woodline. Deer tend to leave inkberry holly alone, so it’s a good plant for spots where deer are a concern but you don’t want to use boxwood.


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Dave Marciniak is a landscape designer and speaker. He lives in Culpeper, Virginia and can be found via his website and on Twitter.

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