The practical alternative to box hedge – Ilex Crenata

For centuries, English Boxwood (Buxus Sempervirens) has been one of our favourite garden plants. Extremely versatile, Box has so many uses in the garden as a superb structural, evergreen plant. So much so, it is difficult to see how we can move on from the devastating development of this most irritating of fungi. Because of Box Blight, our lovely boxwood now is becoming increasingly hard to protect without the constant use of fungicides. And sadly, the future does not look good. At present, there is no known blight resistant variety of Buxus available. The Box Blight fungus causes the leaves to become brown spotted and fall off, leaving the stems of the plant devastatingly bare. Not a pretty sight!

What to do?
Harsh as it may sound, the answer is to stop growing Boxwood in our opinion and remove any infected plants from your garden as they will never really recover from an attack. Ilex Crenata is not just a good alternative to box hedge, in many ways it is a superior plant

Ilex Crenata, in our view, the best alternative to Box Hedge
Ilex Crenata, in our view, the best alternative to Box Hedge, close up of the leaves


Meet Ilex Crenata!

Native to Japan, Ilex Crenata, also known as Japanese Holly or box-leaved holly, looks very similar indeed to Buxus Sempervirens, but if you look closely, you will see a crenate (scalloped) margin.

Ilex Crenata is low maintenance and slow growing. It really is an easy plant to grow and is not prone to the problems that occur with our beloved Buxus. Making topiary or creating shapes is really where this plant comes into its own but it also looks very effective as low to medium height hedge. It is hardy and handsome with its lovely light green new growth, offsetting the darker green of the older foliage. Most of us will know Ilex Crenata as the plant used to create spectacular cloud trees crafted in the ancient Japanese Niwaki style. But there is much more to Japanese Holly than that! Our Ilex Crenata topiary collection offers lots of choice, including Ilex Crenata balls, Ilex Crenata Spirals and Ilex Crenata Lollipops.

Alternative to Box Hedge or Topiary - Ilex Crenata Topiary Balls
Alternative to Box Hedge or Topiary – Ilex Crenata Topiary Balls

We have Ilex Crenata for hedging in many shapes and sizes including Ilex Crenata Convexa and smaller Ilex Crenata hedging plants.

For a more decorative option, Ilex Crenata Pleached Trees. This just illustrates how versatile these plants are.

Ilex Crenata, in our view, the best alternative to Box, pictured here as Niwaki-style Cloud Trees
Ilex Crenata, in our view, the best alternative to Box Hedge, pictured here as Niwaki-style Cloud Trees
Alternative to Box Hedge and Box Topiary - Ilex Crenata Japanese Holly
Alternative to Box Topiary – Ilex Crenata won’t catch blight