Schwoebels Upright HollyIlex crenata 'Schwoebel Upright'
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Ilex crenata 'Schwoebel Upright'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
Schwoebel’s Upright Japanese Holly is a slender pyramidal evergreen bush that grows to perhaps 8 feet, with a spread at the base of no more than 4 feet. It is densely-branched, and it remains bushy and compact without any trimming. It is also easy to trim for hedges or neat, formal specimens. Although a holly, it has no spines, and it looks more like a boxwood, with thick, glossy leaves Grow it alone or in clusters, or as a hedge. It makes a great specimen for contrast in shrub beds, a useful lawn specimen in smaller gardens, and a plant for large containers.
Plant Schwoebel’s Upright Japanese Holly where it is in full sun or partial shade. It grows in sheltered spots in zone 5 and in all warmer zones with ease. Almost any soil is suitable, with some preference for moist, well-drained acidic soils. Water regularly when young (it won’t wilt to tell you it is in trouble), but one established it is drought resistant. It has excellent resistance to salty sea breezes, and good resistance to road salt. As well, pests and diseases are rare, and deer usually leave it alone.
Tough, reliable evergreens for structure in our gardens are always welcome. Since evergreens are a little more likely to burn in winter or in summer, it is important to choose the right plant for your area. In moderately warm zones which are ‘not too hot, not too cold’, you are perfectly placed to grow Japanese holly. This reliable evergreen doesn’t look much like our image of holly – the leaves are free of spines, with just a serrated edge. This plant looks much more like a very healthy boxwood, with small glossy leaves that are a wonderful dark green. It usually forms a broad bush, but for a great upright plant, just the right height for small hedges or accents in your beds, the best choice is Schwoebel’s Upright Japanese Holly – a wonderful and easy to grow shrub for everyone who wants simple beauty and minimal care.
Schwoebel’s Upright Holly is a densely-branching evergreen shrub with a naturally slender upright form. It will grow to 6 or 8 feet tall, and have a spread of only 3 or 4 feet. Usually the Japanese holly is as broad as it is wide and needs lots of trimming to have an upright form – but not when you grow Schwoebel’s. It needs very little, if any, trimming to maintain this elegant form, and it stands out in beds as an excellent accent. The rounded glossy leaves are about an inch long, with a rich, dark-green color that is stable and reliable all through summer and winter. In spring, with the new leaves, the color is a little brighter and lighter green. At first glance the leaves are smooth, like a boxwood, but look closely and you can see tiny serrations along the edge, showing this plant’s relationship to more familiar, spiny holly bushes.
In spring, clusters of tiny white flowers may be seen among the branches, but these are not very showy, and usually won’t appear at all if you trim your bushes. The flowers might be followed by small, blue-black berries, but usually not. The berries are not showy, and this plant does not produce the familiar bright-red holly berries of Christmas. Any berries that are produced will be taken by birds once they ripen.
Wherever you need a sturdy upright evergreen – that is where to plant Schwoebel’s Upright Holly. In smaller beds one plant is perfect to fill a corner, or feature in the center of a bed. In large beds plant in clusters of 3 or 5 for a striking effect. For an attractive hedge plant in a row, spacing plants 2 feet apart. Trim or not – it will always be upright and neat. Plant a pair or clusters on either side of a doorway or gate, or even grow it as a smaller lawn specimen bush. It is an excellent choice for coastal areas, and in warm zones it grows well in planters too.
Schwoebel’s Upright Holly grows perfectly in zones 6, 7 and 8, with ease and no damage. In zone 9 it may suffer a little during hot and humid weather, but overall it will grow well. In zone 5 it should be planted in a sheltered place and watered deeply in late fall. There the roots should be thickly mulched over winter, to protect from winter scorching of the leaves.
Full sun or partial shade – Schwoebel’s Upright Holly doesn’t mind at all. Plants in full sun should be watered regularly, especially during the first summer or two, but established plants have reasonable drought tolerance. The best soil is moist and well-drained, but generally this hardy plant will grow well in most soils, from sand to clay and from wet to rather dry.
Because Schwoebel’s Upright Holly has such tough and durable leaves, you should keep a watch on it during the early seasons. Plants don’t wilt, so they can become very dry and not be noticed at all. Water at least twice a week, and every second day in dry, hot weather, in the first season. Mulch well to conserve moisture and keep the soil cool.
For a formal hedge or a neat, pyramidal look, trim as needed. Trim in spring, after the first flush of new leaves has matured a little, and again in late summer if you wish. Don’t trim past early fall, as new growth may not become mature enough to survive winter undamaged. Pests and diseases don’t usually bother this bush, and deer leave it alone. The leaves are very resistant to ocean salt breezes, and moderately resistant to road salt, so this is a great choice for coastal homes or cottages.
Japanese holly, Ilex crenata, grows naturally in the forests and mountain slopes of Sakhalin Island, off the coast of eastern Russia, and in Japan, Korea and northern China. It was first introduced into America in 1864, following the opening of Japan to trade by Admiral Perry. It was immediately popular, and since then many varieties have been developed. Sadly, the origin of the variety called ‘Schwoebel Upright’ has been lost, but Mr. Schwoebel must have been a busy holly breeder because he is also responsible for a spreading variety called ‘Schwoebel Compacta’. The variety ‘Excelsa Schwoebel’ is probably the same as ‘Schwoebel Upright’. Whoever he was, we thank Mr. Schwoebel for his excellent and useful plant.
It is hard to have too many structural evergreens in your garden, and Schwoebel’s Upright Japanese Holly is one of the very best. This quality variety is not often available, but we have tracked down some excellent specimens. Order yours now, while our limited supply holds up – it won’t be for long.