Plant of the Week: GEM BOX® and STRONGBOX® Inkberry holly

Ilex glabra is a great plant for a number of reasons. It’s a species native to North America, which appeals to people. It’s a great plant in its own right, too, being a durable choice that tolerates both wet feet and salt spray.

Ilex glabra is a great plant for a number of reasons. It’s a species native to North America, which appeals to people. It’s a great plant in its own right, too, being a durable choice that tolerates both wet feet and salt spray.

The problem with Ilex glabra is that many cultivars get leggy and hollowed out as they age. That was an opportunity for us to develop a cultivar that retained good branching and a nice, compact habit. The result is not just one, but two new varieties of Ilex glabra: Gem Box® (left) and Strongbox® (right).

Both of these new varieties stay about 2-3′ tall and wide and maintain a nice rounded habit. Like other Ilex glabra they will grow in full sun or partial shade and have good deer-resistance.

The leaves of Strongbox® are a little bigger than those of Gem Box® but both look a lot like boxwood and can be sheared or shaped just like Buxus.

Turning a problem into an opportunity.
Sometimes we face a challenge that has the potential to really mess up our plans. A flight delay that leads to an extra few hours in an airport – that’s a problem. But maybe you can use that time to explore a new city for the afternoon – what a great opportunity!

Boxwood is facing some challenges that are a lot more serious than a missed connection. Boxwood blight is just one of them; the boxwood tree moth has wreaked havoc across European Buxus fields and has the potential to do the same here in North America. These are serious threats, and it’s hard to find the opportunity in them.

Some nurseries are developing blight-resistant cultivars, we have some in the Proven Winners ColorChoice catalog as well.

Taking charge of the situation is the best first step. One action is to start using alternatives to boxwood where possible. Gem Box® and Strongbox® Ilex are two excellent options.

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