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joshoc 09-19-2009 04:05 PM

How to get bottom of Inkberry Hollies to grow
The Inkberry Holly shrubs in front of my house are bare on basically the bottom 40% of the plant and only have leaves above the 40% line.
How can I get leaves to grow down on the lower part of the plant?

Some people say to trim the shrub really low and then that makes the leaves grow on the lower part of the shrub, but it doesn't seem like that would work. The bottom 40% of these shrubs are sort of thick wood and I don't see how leaves could grow on that.

The Inkberry Holly shrubs are too high relative to the shrubs in front of them, aesthetically speaking. I could trim the Inkberries low, but then that would really just leave woody sticks showing, not very many leaves.

Nashville, TN

joshoc 09-20-2009 11:30 AM

I found my answer:

"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."


Nashville, TN

downunder 09-20-2009 05:48 PM

All hollies have an abundance of dormant buds along the branches and many are chainsaw pruned about a foot high. If you don't want to see them bare, try pruning (thinning) some of the top out to allow more light to the lower branches.

I would not do any pruning right now. Any new growth will be susceptible to freeze damage. My usual practice for renewal pruning is to fertilize a few weeks beforehand with a common 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 which will allow the shrub to have plenty of nutrition for the expected growth spurt. Wait until about the first of May for warmer weather. By the way, after pruning would be an excellent to replentish mulch.

joshoc 09-21-2009 04:32 PM


Originally Posted by downunder (Post 330142)
All hollies have an abundance of dormant buds along the branches and many are chainsaw pruned about a foot high.

Do the larger canes at/near the bottom of the shrub have dormant buds too? These canes at/near the bottom are about 3/4 inch thick.

I might replace these Inkberry Holly shrubs with something else that grows dense in the interior of the shrub and has light green leaves. What would be good to replace it with? Winter Gem Boxwoods?


downunder 09-21-2009 06:34 PM

Yes. The buds are along all the branches. If you cut it back to two inches high, it would put back out. Actually you will not find many, if any at all, that will grow denser in the inside. That's just the nature of the beast. The permanent foliage of evergreens also permanently shades the interior buds.

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