Compact Japanese Holly

Ilex crenata 'Compacta'

2 Reviews

Compact Japanese Holly

Ilex crenata 'Compacta'

2 Reviews


How are the heights measured?

All tree, and nothin' but the tree! We measure from the top of the soil to the top of the tree; the height of the container or the root system is never included in our measurements.

What is a gallon container?

Nursery containers come in a variety of different sizes, and old-school nursery slang has stuck. While the industry-standard terminology is to call the sizes "Gallon Containers", that doesn't exactly translate to the traditional liquid "gallon" size we think of. You'll find we carry young 1-gallons, up to more mature 7-gallons ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 6ft.

How does the delivery process work?

All of our orders ship via FedEx Ground! Once your order is placed online, our magic elves get right to work picking, staging, boxing and shipping your trees. Orders typically ship out within 2 business days. You will receive email notifications along the way on the progress of your order, as well as tracking information to track your plants all the way to their new home!

Why are some states excluded from shipping?

The short & sweet answer is: "United States Department of Agriculture Restrictions." Every state has their own unique USDA restrictions on which plants they allow to come into their state. While we wish we could serve everyone, it's for the safety of native species and helps prevent the spread of invasive disease & pests. We've gotta protect good ole' Mother Nature, after all.

About Me


The Compact Japanese Holly is a fantastic substitute for boxwood in hotter, humid areas where boxwood does not thrive, and an excellent dense evergreen bush for any location. It has small, rounded leaves and clips easily into rounded specimens up to 5 feet tall and across. It also makes an excellent low to medium-sized hedge. It is highly resistant to ocean salt spray, so it is a good choice for coastal cottages and beachfront locations. The black berries that are produced in fall and persist through winter are a valuable food for birds, who will be attracted to your garden. It grows much faster than boxwood, so even in areas where boxwood grows, this plant allows you to develop a good-sized hedge in a shorter time.

  • Small foliage like boxwood on a faster-growing plant
  • Heat, humidity and drought tolerant
  • Grows well in coastal locations
  • Black winter berries for birds
  • Trims well into specimens or hedges

Plant the Compact Japanese Holly in a sunny or partially shaded location, in ordinary garden soil that is well-drained. This plant needs some initial care with watering, but once well-established it is very drought-tolerant as well as resistant to pests and diseases. In colder areas the roots should be well-watered and mulched for winter. It can be trimmed at any time, but do not trim in winter in colder areas.

Plant Hardiness Zones 6-9
Mature Width 6-9
Mature Height 5-7
Sun Needs Full Sun, Partial Sun
Zones 6-9

Evergreen shrubs with small leaves that can be clipped into different shapes are very valuable in the garden. These accents give structure and form to almost any garden. You do not have to have a strictly formal garden to benefit from accents, which calm the eye and create a focal point, even in an informal setting. Oftentimes Boxwood is a common choice, but there are other good options, and the Compact Japanese Holly is a top one for medium-sized accents, and especially in areas where boxwood does not grow well. This attractive plant can be trimmed into round shapes, grow into a hedge, or left to grow naturally as a more relaxed but dense and rounded shrub. It is a good choice for the foundation planting around the house, for background planting in shrub beds, for boundary hedges or as clipped lawn specimens.

The Compact Japanese Holly is a popular plant, especially in the south, where it grows well in hot, humid conditions. We know that our stocks will not last long, especially since we have an excellent supply of top-quality plants. If you want a fast-growing alternative to boxwood for hotter areas, or an top-quality evergreen for any garden, then order now or you could easily be disappointed.

Appearance of the Compact Japanese Holly

When most of us think of holly bushes we picture a plant with large, spiny leaves and red winter berries – a favorite for Christmas decorating. There are however many different holly bushes, and the Compact Japanese Holly is certainly very different. The oval-shaped leaves are small, about one inch long, with a smooth, glossy surface in a rich-green that always looks attractive.

At first they seem to have smooth edges, with no spines like other holly bushes, but closer examination will reveal minute serrated teeth along the edges of the leaves. Small white flowers are produced in spring, and in fall clusters of shiny black berries appear. These add charm to the bush, and they are a valuable winter food for birds, who will visit your garden to enjoy the treat.

Growing Compact Japanese Holly Bushes

Use the Compact Japanese Holly as a natural background shrub without any need to trim it. It will rapidly grow into a rounded form that will soon reach 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide, growing eventually to as much as 8 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Most gardeners prefer to clip it into a rounded shape, making a beautiful accent, or a specimen on the lawn. It can also be planted as a hedge, by spacing the plants 3 feet apart in a row. Start clipping in the first year of growth to encourage the plants to grow bushy and form a solid hedge with good structure.

The great advantage of the Compact Japanese Holly compared to boxwood shrubs is the rapid rate of growth. While boxwood adds just a few inches a year, this holly bush can add up to 2 feet of growth in a single season when the plants are young, well-watered and fertilized. Place your plants in a sunny or partially shaded location, in any ordinary garden soil that is well drained. This plant is very resistant to ocean salt spray, so it is an ideal bush for seaside locations. It is also moderately resistant to road salt, so it can be planted near highways.

When you first plant your bushes, it can be hard to tell if they need water, as they will not wilt as most other plants do. So water regularly, twice a week or even daily during hot weather. Use a mulch to keep the soil cool. Once established this plant is very drought resistant, but young plants need some care so that they develop deep root systems. In colder areas, mulch the root zone in fall, to protect the soil from freezing. This plant is unusual because the top growth is more cold-resistant than the roots, which is opposite to the situation for most plants. In fall always make sure the plant is well-watered before the ground freezes, and after watering, apply mulch over the whole root zone.

History and Origins of the Compact Japanese Holly

The Japanese holly (Ilex crenata) is a native plant from China, Japan and Korea. Although usually a large bush, it can sometimes grow into a tree with a thick trunk. The Compact Japanese Holly is a special selection of this plant, which remains a bush and grows rapidly into a broad, rounded plant. Our plants are grown by rooting pieces of selected dense and compact plants, not from seed. Cheaper seedling trees will be very variable and could grow very tall, ruining the layout of your garden.

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Compact Japanese Holly

Ilex crenata 'Compacta'

2 Reviews