Sky Pencil

Sky Pencil holly is abroad leaf evergreen shrub. A related shrub is Ilex crenata ‘Hetzii’. Both are types of Japanese holly, which is valued for its small, tightly-packed leaves; many a casual observer has been duped into thinking these shrubs to be boxwoods, which exhibit a similar foliage.


Sky Pencil holly is a relatively slow-growing, columnar shrub that reaches 4-10 feet in height, with a width only about 1/3 of that. When my own shrub reached 6 feet tall, its width was only 14 inches at the widest point. The “column” is narrowest at the base, slowly tapering out along the plant’s ascent skyward.

These shrubs are dioecious, and you can learn how to tell male and female holly apart. But the male plant needed to pollinate a female does not have to be another Sky Pencil: any type of holly plant will do. The small, greenish-white flowers are unimpressive; but when pollination does occur, a few black berries will be produced (the same color as on Ilex crenata ‘Hetzii’ and the aptly named “inkberry”).

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