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'Densa' Is a Native Inkberry Holly With a Full Shape

Virtues: We love Ilex glabra ‘Densa’ for its lustrous, dark green foliage that creates a dense display all year round. White flowers bloom from early spring into summer followed by tiny, rounded jet-black fruits in fall through spring, often enjoyed by wildlife.

inkberry holly ilex glabra

Common name: 'Densa' inkberry holly; dense inkberry

Botanical name:Ilex glabra ‘Densa’

Flowers: In late spring to summer, white, inconspicuous flowers bloom followed by small, black inkberries during fall lasting until the following spring. However, this tidy shrub is more commonly known for its lovely, verdant foliage.

Foliage: Narrow, leathery rich green leaves cover the upright branches of these lush, sumptuous shrubs, perfect for mass plantings or as stand-alone plants adding a touch of opulent green color. While the species and some inkberry selections lose their lower leaves, creating a stretch of bare stems at the base, 'Densa' retains its lower leaves for full coverage.

Habit: Densa inkberry holly has an ovate, compact habit usually reaching 4 to 6 feet in height with a similar spread.

Season: These slow-growing shrubs have year-round interest with their charming, evergreen foliage.

Origin: Cultivar of a plant native to the eastern region/coast of North America

How to grow Ilex glabra ‘Densa’: Dense inkberry can grow successfully in most average soils but will thrive in acidic, moist, well-drained soil with regular watering. They prosper in full sun, but are known to be shade tolerant. These shrubs are very responsive to pruning and can be fed a general fertilizer in spring, before new growth begins. USDA Zones 5–9.

Image: Phillip Merritt
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