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Ilex glabra Strongbox®
ENLARGE IMAGE Durable, easy-care evergreen.

Ilex glabra Strongbox®

Neatly shaped evergreen, no pruning required
ZONE 5,6,7,8,9
As low as $14.99
  • Native evergreen looks like boxwood
  • Lush and full to the ground
  • Tiny white flowers in late spring
  • Naturally grows with a neat, rounded shape
  • Makes a shapely specimen or nice low hedge
  • Ship size: Starter Quart
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Ilex glabra Strongbox® Description

Strongbox® inkberry holly (Ilex glabra) is yet another innovative boxwood alternative from Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs. Like its sister plant Gem Box® inkberry holly, it’s a native evergreen with a neat, dense habit that looks like boxwood but is more durable and disease resistant. Strongbox® is more squat and “tuna can”-shaped than Gem Box, which is more of a globe. It needs no trimming to maintain this tidy shape and lends the perfect semi-formal accent to any kind of landscape. Especially nice in native plant and pollinator gardens!

Plant inkberry holly as a low hedge, specimen, or use it as an edging. Though it is not quite as shade tolerant and deer resistant as boxwood, it’s more adaptable and of course, more disease resistant.

History buffs, take note: this plants is called “inkberry holly” because Civil War soldiers used its berries to make a crude ink to write letters home.

You may also want to check out Gem Box inkberry holly, which is similar to Strongbox but offers a rounded, globe-like shape.

Special features: Evergreen, Boxwood substitute, Native plant, Low hedge

Quick Facts

  • Botanical name: Ilex glabra 'ILEXFARROWTRACEY'
  • Common name:
    Inkberry holly
  • Zone:
  • Sun exposure:
    Full sun (min. 6 hrs/day) to part shade (4-6 hrs/day)
  • Delivery:
    See schedule
  • Ship form:
    Starter quart
  • Soil type:
    Moist, well-drained soil.
  • Soil moisture:
    Average. Leaves can brown if it becomes too dry too often.
  • Height x width:
    2-3' tall and wide
  • Flower color:
  • Foliage color:
  • Season of interest:
  • Uses:
    Hedge, Low hedge, Specimen, Containers, Formal gardens, Native plant gardens
  • Cannot ship to:
    AK, HI
  • Patent:USPP 27,554



Soil:  Moist but well-drained soils are best. Though inkberry holly can take some dryness, foliage will begin to brown if it drys out frequently or severely. Occasional standing water or very wet soil is ok.  
Light: Full sun (6+ hrs/day) to part shade (4-6 hrs/day).
Water:  Average to abundant (as long as soil is well-drained).
Space:  2-3' apart, depending on landscape role.
Fertilizing:  If desired, fertilize in early spring, once the ground has thawed, with a granular rose fertilizer. A second application may be made in late spring/early summer as well.
Winterizing:  2-3" of shredded bark mulch is important to protect the shallow roots and minimize water loss. Do not allow plants to enter winter "thirsty" – dry soil during cold, windy weather is the main cause of leaf browning or even the plant dying.
Maintenance:  Trim as needed to maintain shape and size desired. Save major pruning for mid-late spring, after new growth has emerged but before it becomes hard and woody.