Ilex glabra / Inkberry holly

Ilex glabra Inkberry hollyA darn nice alternative to boxwood is the equally tough and hardy inkberry holly. Here you see the increasingly popular short variety ‘Shamrock’,

It’s indigenous from Nova Scotia to Florida and west to Mississippi.


  • Prefers wet soils.
  • Full sun to moderate shade.
  • Grows to 6-8′ x 8-10′, with ‘Shamrock’ reaching only 5′ .
  • Hardy to Zones 4-9.


  • Because it’s listed as preferring wet soils, I’ll be keeping mine watered during periods of drought.
  • Inkberries are notorious for becoming leggy with age, as they lose leaves on the lower stems. Even the more dwarf ‘Shamrock’ needs renewal pruning to reduce the height and maintain bushiness after it’s reached its full size. This can be accomplished by cutting back to 8-12 inches from the ground in March, or by shearing to reduce overall size.