llex Crenata (Japanese holly)

Are you looking for a winter hardy, evergreen hedge plant that is also resistant to the boxwood moth and boxwood caterpillar? Then the Ilex Crenata, or the Japanese holly, is extremely suitable. A nice tight hedge as a partition or a hedge for decoration in the middle of your garden? Both are possible.

Ilex Crenata (Japanese holly)

This Japanese holly is very popular. That is not without cause. The great thing about this hedge plant is that you can also enjoy it in winter. The hedge is never arid, but always fresh and green. And it is a nice alternative to the boxwood, which often falls prey to the boxwood moth. With the Ilex Crenata you don't have to worry about that. Although crenata means serrated in Latin, the leaves are oval and smooth. These are very similar to those of the boxwood. This plant blooms in May and June. Beautiful, white flowers will appear. Black currants appear in the autumn. You have to look closely, because they are hardly noticeable. You will see that butterflies and bees like to come for the flowers; a little later in the year the berries will attract birds.


As with many plants, there are several varieties of the Japanese holly. They are quite similar, but they have their differences. Things like color and the way they grow. Choose the hedge that suits your garden and home.

Ilex Crenata Dark Green is a small, evergreen, densely branched shrub. The oval leaves start fresh green and slowly turn dark green. In the spring there will be white flowers and later on, inconspicuous black currants will attract many birds to your garden.

Ilex Crenata Convexa is best planted as a lower hedge. You get a nice, classic, compact hedge due to the dense branching shape. The Convexa is one of the best boxwood substitutes.

Ilex Crenata Green Hedge has branches that grow straight in the air. The leaves are small and shiny. You can create a hedge of up to 2 meters high from this plant.

Ilex Crenata Blondie is distinguished by its beautiful, golden yellow glow. This Japanese holly gives your garden that little bit of extra shine.

Ilex Crenata Caroline Upright has a naturally small, compact upright shape. This hedge plant attracts bees and butterflies.

Ilex Maximowicziana Kanehirae grows quite quickly and therefore produces a dense hedge pretty fast. Furthermore, the hedge plant can withstand temperatures well below zero and remains beautifully green in winter.

This hedge plant is native to Japan and Korea. But a long time ago it was also seen in many other parts of the world. Also in Europe. The Japanese holly is a welcome "guest" here, because it is very suitable as a hedge plant.

Why choose a Japanese holly hedge?

  • We wrote it before: the Japanese holly is winter hardy and stays beautifully green even in winter.
  • It is a good alternative to the boxwood, which is vulnerable to the boxwood moth.
  • The hedge can be used for all kinds of purposes: as a fence between your garden and that of your neighbors, but also in the middle of your garden as an ornamental hedge.
  • You can keep the hedge low or about 3.5 meters high. And of course all heights in between.
  • Do you like a tight hedge? This hedge is very delicate. It is easy to prune. Would you like to create a special shape? This is also possible.
  • The Ilex Crenata is very easy to maintain.

When is the best time to plant the hedge?

It is best to plant the hedge between September and May. But beware: never when it is freezing outside.

How do you plant a Japanese holly hedge?

  1. Make sure you have removed all weeds from around the hedge. The Japanese holly needs all the moisture and nutrients from the soil.
  2. Dig a trench that is not that deep. And preferably one that is nice and straight. Tip: stretch a rope between two sticks before digging. That helps.
  3. Put some potting compost in the trench for a good start. This way, the hedge has slightly more minerals and nutrients to grow out of.
  4. Put some of the excavated soil on the potting soil. This way the roots are on loose, well-drained soil, which they like very much.
  5. Place the Ilex Crenata alongside the trench first, in the position where you want to plant it.
  6. Are you satisfied with the distribution? Then you can place the hedge plants in the trench. Make sure to place the plants upright and in the center of the trench. This is really important. Otherwise your hedge will grow crooked.
  7. Fill the trench with soil. Press it down well.
  8. Then water the plants sufficiently. And keep this up until the hedge has started to grow.


Plant the hedge in the sun or partial shade.

The Ilex Crenata prefers to be in slightly moist soil. Water sufficiently twice a week in dry, warm periods. Make sure the soil is not too wet, otherwise the roots can rot.

Calcareous soil are reay bad the the plant.


The Japanese holly can grow up to 3.5 meters high. It is therefore important that the individual plants have enough space to grow.

You need around three to five plants per linear meter, depending on the size of the plant.

Advice & Care

  • Water the hedge sufficiently, but make sure it is not in soil that is very wet.
  • Fertilize the Japanese holly hedge every spring. Use an environmentally friendly organic fertilizer for this. The nutrients of this fertilizer are slowly released into the roots. As a result, the hedge plant never gets too much at once. We prefer organic fertilizer over chemical fertilizer. With the latter, the roots suddenly receive all the nutrients, which they cannot absorb all at the same time. As a result, a lot of fertilizer is lost when it rains.
  • Prune the Ilex Crenata at least twice a year between the months of May and September with sharp, clean pruning shears. Do this in cloudy weather. Why not when it’s sunny outside? The leaves can burn.

Treating known conditions

The Japanese holly is a strong hedge plant. It is known for his extremely good health. It has little or no trouble with (fungal) diseases and vermin.

Advantages and disadvantages of the Ilex Crenata


  • The Japanese holly hedge remains beautifully green in winter.
  • The plant is winter hardy, which makes it very easy.
  • It is easy to prune.
  • It gives you a lot of privacy, due to its compact habit and dense branching.
  • The Japanese holly is a good alternative to boxwood.
  • The hedge is lives long, so you will enjoy it for many years.
  • A high hedge of up to 3.5 meters or a small, elegant hedge and everything in between. Anything is possible.


  • The plant grows slightly faster than the boxwood. So you will have to prune more often.
  • Do not water the hedge  only a little, but certainly not too much.
  • Make sure you do not place the Ilex Crenata in calcareous soil. It likes acidic soil.
  • The berries are poisonous. So be careful with small children and pets.


The Ilex Crenata is an ideal hedge plant if you like beautiful, tight hedges that require little maintenance. You can also enjoy this hedge in winter, as it remains green for 365 days. Did you know that the Ilex Crenata is a perfect replacement for boxwood? Not only does it look like it, but this plant is a lot stronger and the boxwood moth and boxwood caterpillar skip this hedge. Ideal.

Are you looking for a beautiful hedge plant that you can enjoy for a long time? Order it immediately. Do you have any questions? Please contact Haagplanten Heijnen.