Soft touch holly companion plants

Planting the best shrubs in front of your house creates a blossoming welcome mat for guests. Shrubs for full sun, like Ogon or Purple Smoke Bushes, usually soften the severe edge where the house meets the ground. These, along with series Rosa Knock Out and Green-and-White Charmer, are the best shrubs to generate pleasant vibes that show the owners care about the appearance of their personal property.

It is important to know about the suitable mix of such shrubs that can affect a house’s curb appeal in a positive or negative manner

People who have an interest in gardening and farming need to gain better insight about the best shrubs that require full sunlight and can easily survive in front of the house. The list includes prominent names like Soft Touch Holly, Crimson Fire Loropetalim, Creeping Gardenia, Georgia Petite Indian Hawthorn and many more. These are the best shrubs that tie a house with the natural surroundings and enhance the overall image of a property.

The 6 Best Shrubs For Full Sun In Front Of House

Crimson Fire Loropetalum is a relatively new variant of Loropetalum, which stands 2-3′ tall by 2.3′ wide. This particular shrub maintains its unique reddish-purple color all year long and can absorb full sunlight to remain alive and blooming.

2. Soft Touch Holly

On the other hand, Soft Touch Holly shrub usually forms in a naturally smaller size, clocking in at 2′ tall by 3′ wide. It can also take full sunlight and looks similar to shrubs like Carissa Holly, Dwarf Holly, and Japanese Holly.

3. Creeping Gardenia

Creeping Gardenia is another great flowering shrub that reaches 2′ tall by 2-3′ wide. It can take partial to complete sunlight to remain active and survive long in front of the house. Its white flowers make the shrub look even more beautiful and appealing.

4. Georgia Indian Hawthorn

Georgia Indian Hawthorn is also considered one of the best flowering shrubs that can be placed in front of the house to enhance its appearance and give welcoming vibes to others. This particular shrub is small in form and usually blooms in the spring season while reaching the maximum size of 2.5′ in height and 3.5′ in width. It can also survive well in full sunlight and gives a pleasant look when planted in front of a house.

5. Kaleidoscope Abelia

Kaleidoscope Abelia is another colorful shrub that can reach a maximum height of 2.5’ by 3.5′ width. It needs full light of the sun and seems eye-catching when planted along with Loropetalum.

6. Hydrangea

All kinds of hydrangea are very beautiful. If the hydrangea planted is acidic, it is pink; it is light blue when it is alkaline. The gradient scale, depending on the soil’s acidity, is very beautiful.

All these shrubs enhance the scenery of the surroundings and often generate striking impacts on those who pass by them. Whichever you choose, it is important to keep in mind some tips whenever planting shrubs in front of your house.

When a person prepares to plant a shrub, they should think about its suitable size: some shrubs look pleasant in the nursery, but why they are planted in front of the house, they soon lose their attractiveness and wither. Read labels carefully and choose shrubs that are not going to cover the window panes or doorways.

The purpose must be clear before planting shrubs that require full sun, whether the goal is to add beautiful greenery or completely cover an ugly foundation. No matter the goal, the shrubs need to be evergreen and able to survive all through the year. This makes the landscape always appear “greener” and “attractive” as well.

More links:

Ilex crenata ‘Convexa’ Convexa Holly1

Edward F. Gilman2


Dwarf Japanese holly, (Ilex crenata) is one of the finest-textured shrubs available (Fig. 1). These durable hollies are very flexible as landscape plants as they grow well in full sun to light shade. They lend themselves to a variety of soil types and are available at most nurseries and garden centers. The dark green foliage lends a rich air to any landscape, particularly when combined with lighter green turf and shrubs. Plant on three to four-foot centers to establish a row or mass planting.

Figure 1.

‘Convexa’ holly.

General Information

Scientific name: Ilex crenata ‘Convexa’ Pronunciation: EYE-lecks kren-NAY-tuh Common name(s): ‘Convexa’ holly Family: Aquifoliaceae Plant type: shrub USDA hardiness zones: 5B through 8A (Fig. 2) Planting month for zone 7: year round Planting month for zone 8: year round Origin: not native to North America Uses: foundation; screen; mass planting; container or above ground planter; superior hedge; border Availablity: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range Figure 2.

Shaded area represents potential planting range.


Height: 6 to 10 feet Spread: 8 to 20 feet Plant habit: vase shape; spreading Plant density: dense Growth rate: slow Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: alternate Leaf type: simple Leaf margin: serrulate Leaf shape: obovate Leaf venation: pinnate Leaf type and persistence: evergreen Leaf blade length: less than 2 inches Leaf color: green Fall color: no fall color change Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: white Flower characteristic: spring flowering


Fruit shape: round Fruit length: less than .5 inch Fruit cover: fleshy Fruit color: black Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not particularly showy; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems Current year stem/twig color: green Current year stem/twig thickness: thin


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun Soil tolerances: slightly alkaline; clay; sand; acidic; loam Drought tolerance: high Soil salt tolerances: unknown Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: usually not a problem Winter interest: no special winter interest Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding Invasive potential: not known to be invasive Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

The dwarf Japanese hollies are best used in mass groups as low shrubs, low hedges, or tall groundcovers. The compact habit of growth, slow growth rate, and small leaves make these ideal plants for use as clipped, formal hedges. Adjacent plants will often grow together looking like a row or group of green mounds. Eventually, the crowns grow completely together forming a sea of green.

Cultivars: ‘Convexa’ grows to about eight feet in a vase or rounded form and has cupped, glossy leaves; ‘Compacta’ has a compact growth habit and grows to about five feet tall; ‘Helleri’ has a slight grayish cast to the foliage which sets it apart from other Japanese hollies; ‘Northern Beauty’—improved cold tolerance, reaches a height and spread of three feet; ‘Rotundifolia’—dense habit, large size, to 12 feet.

Propagation is by cuttings.

Pest and Diseases

Pest problems are many, including scale, spider mites, spittle bugs, and nematodes, but these are often of minor consequence.

No diseases are of major concern.


This document is FPS-267, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county’s UF/IFAS Extension office.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.

Welcome To The Blog That Gives You The Plant Grower’s Perspective!

Boxwoods are incredibly popular in the landscape, but could the recent appearance of boxwood blight threaten their place in our gardens? Only time will tell how devastating boxwood blight will be to the boxwood population. Until then it might be good to consider these 5 great boxwood alternatives that are not susceptible to the fungal pathogen that causes boxwood blight.

5 Great Boxwood Alternatives

Boxwoods have become a staple in the landscape industry. You can hardly find a neighborhood or shopping center without a single boxwood in the landscape. Why do people like boxwoods so much? Maybe it’s because they are a low maintenance plant with year-round interest. They are also a diverse plant since they can be sheered into formal spheres or hedges. It doesn’t hurt that the deer tend to leave them alone. The uses of boxwoods are endless; however, a new complication has arisen for the boxwood population.

Boxwood blight, a fungal pathogen, was discovered in Connecticut in a residential landscape in 2011. It quickly spread to other states and after trials it was discovered to infect Pachysandra terminalis as well. States with confirmed infections of boxwood blight are Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Oregon, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. This list is growing constantly, which makes it hard to say exactly how many states boxwood blight has made it to. Just a few months ago, boxwood blight cases were confirmed in Indiana in October of 2018 and in Michigan in December of 2018. Boxwood blight can be devastating to boxwood crops since the disease is contagious and easily spread between susceptible plants. The tale-tell signs that a boxwood has been infected are black spots on the leaves followed by black stem cankers and defoliation of the plant. There is no treatment method once the plant is diagnosed, there are only methods to try and prevent an infection. Plant pathologist recommend buying susceptible plant material from trusted growers only. If you are buying boxwoods from a gorwer, you should ask them what methods they are using to prevent the spread of boxwood blight. Sanitation practices are very important. At our nursery, sheers are cleaned in between each trimming. We also require anyone who enters a house with boxwoods to spray their boots with a Lysol disinfectant spray when they enter the house and when they exit the house. If boxwood blight does happen to infect a plant, the plant needs to be burned so the fungus can not spread to other susceptible plants. Perhaps the best way to avoid the headache of boxwood blight is to plant alternative plants that are not susceptible to the fungal pathogen.

  1. Ilex glabra

Ilex glabra is an evergreen holly commonly called inkberry. This plant is a great alternative to a boxwood since it looks and behaves similarly. The leaves on an inkberry are small and elongated, giving it the illusion of a boxwood from a distance. Inkberry also has a similar habit to boxwoods and maintains a somewhat rounded habit without sheering. Both inkberries and boxwoods are deer resistant and ideal for creating a hedge. As an added bonus, inkberries grow faster than boxwoods giving you the hedge you want faster. Additionally, inkberries are a native plant making them an even better alternative to the non-native boxwood. At Home Nursery, we currently grow three varieties of inkberries including: Ilex glabra ‘Nigra,’ Ilex glabra Gem Box® (pictured to the left), and Ilex glabra Strongbox™. ‘Nigra’ is the larger of the three measuring about 3-4’ tall and wide. It has small white flowers in spring followed by little black berries giving it more seasonal interest. If you are looking for something smaller, consider Gem Box® or Strongbox™, both of which are selections from Proven Winners®. These two both measure 2-3’ tall and wide and maintain a dense rounded habit. Strongbox™ is supposedly less rounded and more elongated than Gem Box®. Strongbox™ is a new plant for us and we are excited to see how it compares to both Gem Box® and ‘Nigra.’

  1. Ilex crenata

Another great boxwood look-alike is Ilex crenata commonly called Japanese holly. This is an evergreen shrub with rounded glossy green leaves. Similar to boxwoods, Japanese holly are deer resistant and make an excellent hedge. We grow four varieties of Japanese holly at Home Nursery, two columnar varieties, and two mounded varieties. The two columnar varieties, Ilex Patti O™ and Ilex ‘Sky Pencil,’ would be great replacements for the columnar boxwood ‘Graham Blandy.’ Of the two, ‘Sky Pencil’ is the larger getting up to 10’ tall and 3’ wide, while Patti O™ only gets 4’ tall and 2’ wide. If you want something for a container, Patti O™ would be the better option, but if you need a tall hedge, ‘Sky Pencil’ is the way to go. Both of these columnar varieties give the landscape a formal look and are a great choice to frame doorways or other focal points. The two mounded varieties of Japanese holly are ‘Green Luster’ and ‘Soft Touch.’ ‘Green Luster’ (pictured above) is the larger of the two getting up to 4’ tall and 5-8’ wide which makes it perfect for a small hedge. Meanwhile, ‘Soft Touch’ is only 2-3’ wide and tall. It is aptly named for its unique almost soft texture. This variety is great if there are lots of children around because with its texture and name people can’t keep their hands off of it. As an added bonus, both of the mounded varieties produce black berries that attract birds.

  1. Thuja occidentalis

While American arborvitae do not have a similar leaf shape to boxwoods, there are several varieties of Thuja occidentalis that have the nice rounded habit that is popular with boxwoods. Thuja occidentalis is another great choice if you are looking for a native evergreen species to plant instead of the non-native boxwood. We grow five varieties of globe shaped arborvitae that would make excellent alternatives to a boxwood. Tiny Tot™ is one of the smallest at only 1-2’ tall and wide. It is rather cute and perfect for a tight space in the landscape. ‘Hetz Midget’ and ‘Little Giant’ are a little bit bigger averaging out at about 4’ tall and wide for both. ‘Hetz Midget’ grows wider than it grows tall making it a good option for rock gardens while ‘Little Giant’ has ideal structure for a small hedge. However, if you are looking for a boxwood alternative with a bit more color, arborvitae have options for that too! Anna’s Magic Ball® and Fire Chief™ are great choices if you want something with vibrant year-round color. These two cultivars are incredibly popular with our customers, and if you see them you will know why. Anna’s Magic Ball® (pictured above) is such a bright shade of yellow that it almost seems to glow. Additionally, it’s small size, only about 1’ tall and wide, makes it perfect for a tight space in the landscape. Fire Chief™ is blazing shades of orange, yellow, and green and turns a lovely coral red in the fall. Fire Chief™ is a bit larger, growing to 2-4’ tall and wide.

  1. Ligustrum spp.

Privets make excellent deer resistant hedges, making them a great alternative to boxwoods. However, these plants are semi-evergreen meaning their ability to hold on to their leaves in the winter varies based on geographic location, placement in the landscape, and cultivar. Generally, in the Midwest these plants are deciduous. Even so, a great cultivar is Ligustrum x ‘Vicaryi’ which is commonly called golden vicary privet. It is on the larger side, getting 6-12’ tall and 7-10’ wide. It also grows much faster than a boxwood would. The foliage is bright yellow and obtains a pink blush in the fall that deepens to purple in the winter. This shrub tolerates sheering into a formal hedge but can also be left un-sheered for a more low-maintenance hedge. Ligustrum ‘Sunshine’ is a non-invasive cultivar that might be a better option if you are concerned about invasive species. ‘Sunshine’ is much smaller than golden vicary at 3-6’ tall and 3-4’ wide. The foliage is a similar bright yellow, but with much smaller leaves giving it a finer texture and better resemblance to boxwoods. ‘Sunshine’ also develops the lovely pink blush color in the fall (pictured above). Another option if you want something with a columnar habit is Ligustrum Straight Talk™. This cultivar can get up to 12’ tall and 2’ wide and unlike the other privets mentioned, it has deep green foliage.

  1. Ilex x meserveae

If you are looking for something with a little bit more winter interest, a more traditional blue holly might be the way to go since they have a great onset of red winter berries. Ilex x meserveae ‘Blue Princess’ and ‘Blue Prince’ are reliable cultivars of blue holly with a glossy blue/green evergreen foliage. These shrubs can get about 10’ tall and wide. In order for berry production to occur, you will need 1 or 2 male plants for every 5 females. The berries attract birds and provide a source of food for them in the cold winter months. Proven Winners® has two blue hollies called Castle Spire® and Castle Wall® of which Castle Spire® is the berry producing female. As added winter interest, the foliage of the Castle Wall® develops a nice purple tint in the winter (pictured above). These cultivars are slightly smaller at about 8’ tall and 3-4’ wide. They also have a more formal pyramidal habit. All of these options of blue hollies make great hedges and are subsequently a good option to take the place of boxwoods.

These are just a few options to use instead of boxwoods, there are many many more shrubs that make great alternatives to boxwoods. If boxwood blight is giving you a headache, don’t let it! There are so many other valuable plants that can be used if your boxwood becomes infected with boxwood blight or if you choose to plants something else before you even come in contact with the disease.

Works Cited

Bach, Casey. “Alternatives to Boxwoods and Traditional Dwarf Hollies.” Randy’s Perennials Water Gardens, 30 May 2016,

“Gem Box Ilex Glabra.” Proven Winners, Grand Rapids, MI,

Holly Comparison: Which Ilex is best?

We grow several evergreen holly shrubs here at Puget Sound Plants. They are quite hearty and versatile, making them easy choices for many landscape uses. They work well as hedges and can replace boxwood as a standard filler plant. Some of them stand out more than others but they are all easy to work with and quite durable. To see our full list of Ilex, please visit our online inventory. Here are a few of our favorite Ilex shrubs:

Ilex crenata ‘Aurora’

Height: 15 inches

Width: 18-24 inches

This beauty was developed in Seattle but our nursery is one of the few still growing it! It’s small and compact with tight, stiff branching and its clumped, irregular foliage is lumpy. ‘Aurora’ is great for rock gardens as a single plant or can be massed together. This is the best Ilex for specimen planting!

Ilex crenata ‘Northern Beauty’

Height: 6-8 feet
Width: 4-6 feet

This holly resembles boxwood, but its growth habit is lower and more spreading. Dark green, glossy leaves have an ovate shape with slightly scalloped edges. Small, black berries appear in the fall but are not showy or messy. It is compact, hardy and low maintenance.

Ilex crenata ‘Compacta’

Height: 4 -6 feet

Width: 5 -6 feet

True to its name, this holly is compact and dense, with flat, dark green leaves. In spring, the new stems are purple then mature to a glossy green, which remains all year round. Help ‘Compacta’ keep its dense form with a little pruning. Otherwise, this shrub is low-maintenance and easy to fit into any landscape.

Ilex crenata ‘Convexa’

Height: 6 -9 feet

Width: 8-10 feet

Another dense evergreen shrub, the ‘Convexa’ gets its name from the leaf shape: each one is convex above and concave below. They appear in the classic glossy green that persist year-round, while offering heavy black fruit production each year, for added attraction. Give this holly fertile soil for best results and be watchful of spider mites, as it is susceptible.

Ilex crenata ‘Helleri’

Height: 4-5 feet

Width: 3-4 feet

This is a dwarf variety that grows in a compact mound with flat leaves. It’s dense foliage becomes covered in attractive black berries in the fall. It is easy to grow and looks great in a hedge or low border, especially in partially shaded areas. It needs no pruning or other special care.

Ilex crenata ‘Green Luster’

Height: 3 -4 feet

Width: 5 -6 feet

This holly has a compact form with a somewhat flat top. Round, lustrous dark green leaves cover this evergreen shrub, with black fruit in the fall. It has a wide spread and an easy, attractive shape, making it a versatile choice for the landscape. It does well in sun and shade and works as a hedge or border plant.

Ilex crenata ‘Skypencil’

Height: 6 to 8 feet

Width: 6-12 inches

This unusual holly has a narrow, columnar form, packed with dense dark evergreen foliage. It sports a glossy tone and produces black-purple berries in the fall. It is unusual in its growth habit, making it an excellent focal point for large containers or entryways. Try it as a vertical focal point or plant several together for a privacy screen.

Ilex Crenata Green Lustre Japanese Holly

Available Sizes to buy online All Prices Include VAT Height Excluding Pot:
80-100cm (2ft 7-3ft 3)

Pot size: 10 Litres

Plant ID: 2825 64
Was £40.00 40% Off – Now £24.00
Height Excluding Pot:
60-80cm (1ft 11-2ft 7)

Pot size: 20 Litres

Plant ID: 7436 2
Click to view photo of this size

Ilex Crenata Green Lustre Japanese Holly

This image displays plant 60-80 cm tall.

Height Excluding Pot:
60-80cm (1ft 11-2ft 7)

Pot size: 20 Litres

Plant ID: 7436 2
Was £100.00 40% Off – Now £60.00

Was £100.00 40% Off – Now £60.00

Ilex Crenata Green Lustre, more commonly known as Japanese Holly Green Lustre, is a compact, evergreen shrub. This particular variety is prized for its attractive mounded habit and glossy foliage, which make for a splendid low-growing hedge. The foliage of this petite shrub is quite dense, consisting of lustrous, dark green, tiny leaves. The shiny leaves stay throughout the year, offering multiple seasons of interest. Although Ilex Crenata Green Lustre blossoms in the summer, the minuscule white flowers, and the black fruit that follows them, are not considered to be main attraction, which is without doubt the rich evergreen foliage.

Staying compact as it matures, this dwarf variety of Ilex Crenata grows to be around 50 centimetres to 1 metre high. Even though Ilex Crenata Green Lustre is not fussy when it comes to optimal growing conditions, it does perform best in full sun to partial shade, and well-drained, slightly acidic soil. To ensure foliage stays healthy and retains its rich green colour year round, avoid planting this evergreen shrub in a location exposed to drying winds or scorching sun. Trouble-free, this variety of Ilex Crenata is usually not affected by pests and diseases.

Native to northeast Asia, Japanese Holly Green Lustre doesn’t mind if the temperature drops to 20 degrees below zero in the winter months, and it is fully hardy in Britain and Ireland.

Unlike other Ilex Crenata varieties, who have a bushy habit, Green Lustre cultivar forms a compact mound as it develops. This formal, stylish natural form makes it ideal for hedges and borders, as it offers splendid texture and uniform shape without extensive pruning and trimming. Low-maintenance and easy to grow, this evergreen shrub is best left unpruned, unless there are dead or damaged twigs that need to be removed. Plant it en masse, for a textured, glossy, low-growing hedge, or in a mixed border, where it can complement showy flowering shrubs. Japanese Holly Green Lustre can be grown in containers as well, so it can be used to provide colour and interest to patios and balconies throughout the year.

If you’re looking for cultivars ideal for compact and dwarf hedges, make sure to check our collection of low-growing shrubs. For more plants that offer multiple seasons of interest, take a look at our selection of evergreen shrubs and trees.

FREQUENTLY BOUGHT WITH >>Ilex Crenata HedgeIlex crenata BlondiePittosporum Tenuifolium Golf Ball Juniperus Scopulorum Moonglow Topiary

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