Ilex aquifolium 'NIGRICANS'

Ilex aquifolium
Ilex aquifolium 'NIGRICANS'
English holly - male
SIZE/TYPE medium-sized shrub
 taller shrub
LEAVES evergreen broadleaf
LOCATION full to partial sun
SOIL TYPE acidic (peaty)
SOIL MOISTURE REQUIREMENTS evenly moist (dislikes drought)
USDA zone (lowest) 5b   (down to -27°C)
FOR ZONE 5+6 Code of winter protection zone 5+6
FOR ZONE 7 Code of winter protection zone 7
BELONGS TO CATEGORIES Evergreen broadleaf
náhled fotonáhled foto

Nigricans is a rare variety of English holly which belongs to aquifolium group but produces foliage that is much closer to blue hollies (x meserveae hybrids). Its evergreen leaves are highly glossy, leathery, narrowly ovate to broadly elliptic, dark green with a conspicuous light green midrib and gently serrated margins. We cannot talk about spiny foliage here at all as the leaves are rather pleasant to touch. Some are borne almost entire, without any or just a few tiny spines. You can tell that it’s not a blue holly in winter because the leaves remain green unlike most blue hollies which turn dark purple blue from autumn till early spring.

Nigricans is a male holly flowering profusely but not producing berries. However, plenty of pollen from its flowers pollinates many other female hollies around which then set fruit. They can be from any group – aquifolium, meserveae, altaclerensis etc. It grows moderately (20-25 cm per year) and strictly upright, forming a rather columnar habit of about 4m height. It can be pruned to be kept smaller. Spring pruning enhances branching, midsummer pruning is for shaping. And it is no problem to cut a few branches in winter for Christmas decorations.

Grow hollies in moist but well-drained, fertile soil. They can take periods of drought once established but dislike compacted, heavy-clay-based soils that turn very dry in summer, and often too wet in winter. If your soil is such, dig the planting hole only half the depth of the root ball, refine what you dig out and mix well with quality substrate of highly acidic level (low pH value). Using this mixture make a gradual slope from the stem to the original ground level and tamp it down as much as you can. Your root ball should not look like a molehill but more like a wide and flat mound. Mulch it well and keep watering it more often as it will be more prone to drying out as opposed to most common flat-in-the-ground transplanting.

Hollies do best in full sun but can also grow in shade where they will lose their compact habit. This variety proved very hardy even in full sun in winter. However, if you live in a region with cold winters and long-lasting frost we recommend growing it in position sheltered from drying winds, and preferably shaded from winter sun. Before and during winter when the soil is not frozen provide good watering. Hardy to about -27°C (USDA zone 5b).

Last update 02-12-2020

Ilex x meserveae
Ilex x meserveae
Ilex x meserveae (Castle Wall™)
  • STANDARD QUALITY - Plants of this group are 1st class quality with number of branches and overall density adequate to their size and age, considering they were container grown.
  • DE LUXE QUALITY - This label guarantees a luxurious quality of manually selected plants that, compared to their height and age, are exceptionally dense and beautiful.
  • EXTRA - These plants are usually mature and bigger specimens with exceptional overall appearance.
  • STANDARD (as described in the plant form) means a tree with a trunk of 190-210 cm and a crown at the top, unless specified differently. The commercial size for trees is their girth measured in the height of 1m from ground.
  • HOBBY - These plants are of the same quality as our standard-quality plants but younger and therefore cheaper.
  • SHRUB - a woody plant with branches growing bushy from the ground level.
  • HALF-STANDARD or MINI-STANDARD - a small tree with shorter trunk, its size is usually specified.
  • FEATHERED - These are trees with branches growing already from the base of the trunk and up along the stem.
  • GRASSES and PERENNIALS - Sizes given usually read the diameter of the pot or the clump, as specified.
LARGE PLANTS over 150 cmspecimens, screening and hedging shrubs

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