Ilex is genus of over 400 species of evergreen and deciduous trees, shrubs and climbers from woodland in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions. Spiny-leaved varieties have coarse growth that can look unattractive as bonsai, however there are some Ilex species which carry small leaves with ‘smooth’ entire margins that are very suitable. Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants; specimens of each sex are required to obtain berries on female forms.
ILEX CRENATA/ Japanese Evergreen Holly
Ilex crenata is an evergreen shrub or small tree with minutely scalloped dark-green leaves upto 2-3cm long and fine twiggy growth. It carries very insignificant white flowers that produce shiny, black berries. I. crenata is native to Japan, Korea and parts of Russia (Sakhalin) where it can reach heights of 5metres and spread upto 4 metres. There are many varieties available for use as bonsai such as I.crenata ‘convexa’, I.crenata ‘Stokes’ and I.crenata ‘Ivory Tower’.
ILEX SERRATA/ Japanese winterberry
Ilex serrata is a deciduous shrub with slender purple twigs and elliptic, very finely toothed, dull green leaves to 5cm long. It bears bright pink flowers, followed by red and sometimes white or yellow fruit. As with Ilex crenata, a male form of Japanese Winterberry is needed to pollinate a female form. Ilex serrata is native to China and Japan where it reaches heights of 5metres with a 3metre width.
BONSAI CULTIVATION NOTES
POSITION: Sun or Shade, some protection in temperatures below -5°C is necessary.
FEEDING: Every two weeks during the growing season.
REPOTTING: Annually in Spring as new buds extend, use a basic soil mix.
PRUNING: Trim to shape; Ilex crenata has brittle branches and care should be taken when wiring.
PROPAGATION: Sow seed outside in Autumn. Germination can take 2-3 years. Take semi-ripe cuttings in late Summer or early Autumn.
PEST AND DISEASES: Young shoots can be attacked by aphids, scale insects on Ilex crenata.
STYLING: Suitable for all forms and sizes