Culture: Easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Adaptable to both light and heavy soils. Prefers rich, consistently moist, acidic soils in full sun. Good shade tolerance, however. Inkberries are dioecious (separate male and female plants). Female plants need a male pollinator in order to produce the berry-like drupes that are characteristic of the species and cultivars. Prune to shape in early spring just before new growth begins. Needs minimal pruning unless used as a hedge (perhaps best grown as an informal hedge). Remove root suckers regularly if colonial spread is not desired.
Noteworthy Characteristics: Ilex glabra (inkberry) is a slow-growing, upright-rounded evergreen shrub in the holly family. It typically grows 6-8 feet tall but can spread by root suckers to form colonies. ‘Shamrock’ is a compact rounded cultivar that grows 3-4 feet tall and suckers less than the species. Obovate to oblanceolate, spineless, glossy dark green leaves (to 1.5 inches long) usually remain attractive in winter unless temperatures dip well below zero. Greenish white flowers appear in spring, but are relatively inconspicuous. If pollinated, female flowers give way to pea-sized, jet black, berry-like drupes (inkberries as it were) which mature in early fall and persist throughout winter to early spring unless consumed by local bird populations. Zones 4 to 9.
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