Ilex crenata 'Compacta' is the botanical name of the dwarf variety of the Japanese holly. This broadleaved evergreen shrub has both male and female plants, with only the latter producing 1/4-inch black berries. This short plant has a mounding growth habit that gives you the impression you're looking at a large upside-down green bowl. Dwarf Japanese holly only reaches 2 feet in height but it spreads 5 feet.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Find a planting site under full or partial sun that offers fast drainage. Dig a hole 8 inches deep and fill it with water. If the water disappears into the ground within 24 hours, that site drains well.
Amend the top 8 inches of soil with 3 cubic yards of compost or other organic matter to provide adequate aeration underground, especially if your soil is heavy clay or sand. Use a shovel and pickaxe to incorporate the matter and rake the surface to make it smooth after you finish.
Dig a hole twice as wide as the holly's root ball. Make it deep enough to support the plant with its root crown positioned at soil level.
Examine the roots of a container-grown holly and cut them loose vertically with a knife if they've become root-bound. Unwrap a bare-root shrub, tucking the edges of the burlap -- unless it's synthetic -- under the root ball. Discard synthetic material and anything used to keep the burlap in place around the root ball.
Plant the shrub in the centre of the hole. Fold natural burlap under the roots to decompose underground and add organic matter to the soil.
Backfill the hole with topsoil. Tap around the base of the shrub with your hands to remove air pockets.
Apply 1 inch of water to the shrub at planting. If the ground settles, add more topsoil and irrigate the area again. Repeat this step until the surface no longer sinks. Continue to hydrate the shrub once a week with 1 inch of water.
Build a 2-inch-deep ring of wood chips or other mulch material 1 foot away from the shrub to help reduce weeds and evaporation.
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