Compact Inkberry HollyIlex glabra ‘Compacta’
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Ilex glabra ‘Compacta’
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Compact Inkberry is a small shrub and a type of holly that grows wild all down the eastern side of North America. It grows especially well in damp or even wet soil, but it will also grow well in ordinary garden soils too. It has glossy evergreen leaves that are attractive in every season, as well as white blossoms in spring and pea-sized black berries in fall, that often last all winter. Although it is a holly bush, it does not have the spines or red berries of the common holly bush. It makes the perfect shrub for any border, or you can plant it along a stream or around a pond. It will grow well in full sun as well as shade, and it will be attractive all year round.
The Compact Inkberry does best in damp, acidic soil, but it will grow well in regular soil, in everything from sand to clay. It is not drought tolerant, so give your Compact Inkberry some water during dry periods. It has no significant pests or diseases and is an easy plant to grow. Plant it with other native shrubs and trees, or clip it into an informal hedge. However and wherever you grow it, the Compact Inkberry will soon become a favorite.
A lot of gardeners struggle with drought, but some gardens are low-lying and damp, or you may be lucky enough to have a stream or pond on your property. If you are looking for plants for damp or even wet soil, then the Compact Inkberry is a great choice. This evergreen shrub grows really well in wet soils of any kind, from sand to clay, plus it will grow well in normal garden soil too, as long as it is well-watered.
The Compact Inkberry is a selected dwarf form of a native plant, which grows wild from Nova Scotia to Florida, and it is widespread throughout the Southeast. So if you like to use native plants, the Compact Inkberry is a great choice for a wild or casual garden, blending in with local plants beautifully. It is an evergreen shrub, with attractive green leaves that stay that way right through the winter.
Many people are surprised to learn that this plant is a holly tree, because its leaves do not have the spines we expect to find on holly, and its berries are black, not red. It’s compact form makes it very useful for small gardens, and for the front of beds, where it can easily be pruned to keep it no more than 2 feet tall. Our plants are grown from specially selected shoots from correctly identified plants, so avoid cheaper seedling plants, that will not have the great compact form of this premium plant.
Growing native shrubs has become something that many gardeners want to do, but it can be hard to find a good range of plants. Here at the Tree Center we found a grower who is carefully producing native shrubs, especially these beautiful Compact Inkberry bushes, which are not often available. They fit perfectly into the wilder parts of your property, along a stream if you have one, or under other trees in an open, woody area. You will love the evergreen beauty of this shrub, and the local bees will love you when it is in bloom, since it is rich in nectar.
Not only is this an attractive garden shrub, it is useful too. A specialist honey is produced by beekeepers in southeast Florida, who release their bees near wild plants while they are flowering, and make a honey called Gallberry honey. A tasty tea can be made from the dried and roasted leaves of your Compact Inkberry bush. This was a drink of the American Indians, and gives the plant its alternative name of Appalachian tea.
The Compact Inkberry grows well in full sun, but it is also shade tolerant, so it will thrive in a variety of locations in your garden. It will grow in all soils, from sandy to clay, provided they do not become very dry, and it will grow directly in wet soil, a great asset in a wet garden. It is also a good choice along a stream or around a pond, along with Dogwoods, Bald Cypress, and other plants that love water. However it will also grow well under regular garden conditions, although it is not drought-resistant. The only requirement is that the soil is acidic, as this bush will not do well in alkaline soils.
The evergreen leaves of the Compact Inkberry are smooth and oval, up to 1½ inches long, and they have no spines. The surface is glossy, giving this shrub a fresh and attractive appearance all year round. In spring small white flowers will appear among the new leaves, and if you have several plants some will produce black berries almost half-an-inch across, which give the bush its common name of Compact Inkberry.
Your Compact Inkberry bush needs no special care, but it can be pruned in spring, before the new growth begins, to keep it even more compact – it can easily be kept to about 2 feet tall. It can also be pruned into an informal hedge, to make a low cover in a casual part of the garden, or to edge a bed in a shady place. It will form a dense bush, with new shoots coming right from the roots to keep it that way. It has no serious pest and diseases and the Compact Inkberry is a great low-maintenance plant for a wild garden, as well as a sturdy addition to a shrub border in any part of your garden, with native or exotic plants.