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We grow several evergreen holly shrubs here at Puget Sound Plants. They are quite hearty and versatile, making them easy choices for many landscape uses. They work well as hedges and can replace boxwood as a standard filler plant. Some of them stand out more than others but they are all easy to work with and quite durable. To see our full list of Ilex, please visit our online inventory. Here are a few of our favorite Ilex shrubs:

Ilex crenata ‘Aurora’

Height: 15 inches

Width: 18-24 inches


This beauty was developed in Seattle but our nursery is one of the few still growing it! It’s small and compact with tight, stiff branching and its clumped, irregular foliage is lumpy.  ‘Aurora’ is great for rock gardens as a single plant or can be massed together. This is the best Ilex for specimen planting!

Ilex crenata ‘Northern Beauty’

Height: 6-8 feet
Width: 4-6 feet

This holly resembles boxwood, but its growth habit is lower and more spreading. Dark green, glossy leaves have an ovate shape with slightly scalloped edges. Small, black berries appear in the fall but are not showy or messy. It is compact, hardy and low maintenance.

Ilex crenata ‘Compacta’


Height: 4 -6 feet

Width: 5 -6 feet


True to its name, this holly is compact and dense, with flat, dark green leaves. In spring, the new stems are purple then mature to a glossy green, which remains all year round. Help ‘Compacta’ keep its dense form with a little pruning. Otherwise, this shrub is low-maintenance and easy to fit into any landscape.

Ilex crenata ‘Convexa’

Height: 6 -9 feet

Width: 8-10 feet


Another dense evergreen shrub, the ‘Convexa’ gets its name from the leaf shape: each one is convex above and concave below. They appear in the classic glossy green that persist year-round, while offering heavy black fruit production each year, for added attraction. Give this holly fertile soil for best results and be watchful of spider mites, as it is susceptible.

Ilex crenata ‘Helleri’

Height: 4-5 feet

Width: 3-4 feet


This is a dwarf variety that grows in a compact mound with flat leaves. It’s dense foliage becomes covered in attractive black berries in the fall.  It is easy to grow and looks great in a hedge or low border, especially in partially shaded areas. It needs no pruning or other special care.

Ilex crenata ‘Green Luster’

Height: 3 -4 feet

Width: 5 -6 feet


This holly has a compact form with a somewhat flat top. Round, lustrous dark green leaves cover this evergreen shrub, with black fruit in the fall. It has a wide spread and an easy, attractive shape, making it a versatile choice for the landscape. It does well in sun and shade and works as a hedge or border plant.

Ilex crenata ‘Skypencil’


Height: 6 to 8 feet

Width: 6-12 inches

This unusual holly has a narrow, columnar form, packed with dense dark evergreen foliage. It sports a glossy tone and produces black-purple berries in the fall. It is unusual in its growth habit, making it an excellent focal point for large containers or entryways. Try it as a vertical focal point or plant several together for a privacy screen.