Simply Trees

Sky Pencil Holly

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Once a weekFull sunDeer resistantSummer to fall


  • Architectural Elegance: The Japanese Sky Pencil Holly stands tall with its unique columnar form, effortlessly bringing structural beauty to gardens.
  • Year-Round Brilliance: With lustrous, deep green leaves throughout all seasons, this Holly variety ensures unending visual interest.
  • Landscape Versatility: Ideal for tight spaces, borders, or as a privacy screen, it also thrives in containers, showcasing adaptability to a wide range of garden settings and design aspirations.

More Details

Sky Pencil Holly, scientifically classified as Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil', stands as an emblem of vertical elegance in the world of evergreen shrubs. Recognized for its slender, skyward growth, this plant serves as a verdant punctuation mark in modern gardens and classic landscapes alike. Flourishing in a myriad of climates, the Sky Pencil Holly becomes the focal point in outdoor settings, making it an indispensable choice for gardening enthusiasts aiming to add a touch of sophisticated greenery to their exterior spaces.

Growth rate: Slow to moderate grower; reaches a height of 6-10 ft and approximately 1-3 ft wide at maturity

Please note: Images on our website depict plants and trees at full maturity to showcase their expected grown characteristics. These images are illustrative examples only and do not represent the size of plants or trees upon delivery.

Pruning: Generally low-maintenance in terms of pruning. To retain its slender shape or desired height, engage in light pruning during early spring.

Fertilization: Feed with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring to foster vibrant growth and leaf color.

Winter Protection: In areas where winters are particularly harsh, or there's a prevalence of strong winds and heavy snowfall, consider protective measures. This could include wrapping or using shields to prevent potential damage.

Select a location with good drainage and either full sun or partial shade. Dig a hole approximately double the width of the root ball, ensuring its depth is the same as the root ball's height. Position the Holly in the center of this hole, making sure the root ball's top aligns with the soil surface. Refill the hole with the excavated soil, pressing down gently to eliminate air pockets. Provide a generous amount of water post-planting. A mulch layer around the base, kept slightly away from the trunk, will assist in moisture retention and weed deterrence.

Position the Sky Pencil Holly in an area where it can receive ample sunlight, preferably full sun to partial shade. Regular watering, especially in its formative stages, ensures optimal growth, though established plants can handle occasional droughts.

We process and ship your order as quickly as possible, typically within 1-3 business days. You will receive a shipping confirmation with tracking information once your item(s) ship.

We have perfected packaging and shipping plants & trees! That is why we DO NOT use any third-party fulfillment like most other online retailers. Your trees go straight from our farm to your door, safely packaged by our team of seasoned professionals. Our process ensures your plants leave our facility and arrive to your door in the best condition possible!

In cases of extreme cold or hot weather, we may temporarily delay shipping to ensure the well-being of your plants. Our primary focus is on delivering healthy and thriving plants to you. Rest assured, we'll make every effort to notify you of any delays promptly.

Please allow additional ship times during inclement weather and sale periods. We do not process or ship orders on the weekend or U.S. Holidays. Simply Trees is not responsible for delays due to carriers, local disruptions, or weather.

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At Simply Trees, we're committed to your satisfaction. If your plants arrive considerably damaged or sustained damage beyond the point of recovery, please contact us within five days at with clear photos for assistance. Our 30-day guarantee covers issues after planting, subject to our terms and conditions. We can't cover plants in the wrong climate or with inadequate care, but we're here to help in other situations. For a detailed understanding of our 30-day guarantee and how we ensure a fair process, click here to learn more.


Zones 5-9

Sky Pencil Holly thrives in USDA Zones 5-9. These areas are marked by moderately cold winters and temperate summers. The shrub's slender design coupled with its adaptability to varying soil types makes it a preferred ornamental choice in these zones.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sky Pencil holly is prized for its unique vertical growth habit and compact size, making it a popular choice for narrow spaces and formal landscapes. Here's a general overview of its size:

Height: Sky Pencil holly typically grows to be around 6 to 10 feet tall at maturity. However, it's important to note that growth can vary depending on environmental conditions, cultural practices, and pruning.

Width: This holly cultivar maintains a narrow, columnar form, with a spread of only 2 to 3 feet. Its slender profile and dense foliage make it well-suited for planting in tight spaces or as an accent plant in mixed borders and container gardens.

Sky Pencil holly's compact size and upright growth habit make it an excellent choice for vertical accents, narrow hedges, or framing entrances and pathways. It adds architectural interest to the landscape while requiring minimal maintenance. Additionally, its evergreen foliage provides year-round visual appeal and serves as a backdrop for other garden plants.

Proper siting and care, including adequate sunlight, well-draining soil, regular watering, and occasional pruning, can help ensure Sky Pencil holly thrives and maintains its desired size and form in the landscape.

Sky Pencil holly is known for its slow to moderate growth rate. Under optimal growing conditions, it typically grows about 6 to 12 inches per year. However, growth rates can vary depending on factors such as environmental conditions, soil quality, and cultural practices.

This holly cultivar has a narrow, columnar growth habit, which contributes to its slow growth rate compared to other holly varieties. While it may take some time to reach its mature height, Sky Pencil holly's slender form and dense foliage make it an attractive choice for vertical accents, narrow spaces, or formal landscapes.

To promote healthy growth, provide Sky Pencil holly with proper care, including adequate sunlight, well-draining soil, regular watering, and occasional fertilization. Additionally, pruning can help maintain its desired shape and size while encouraging denser growth. Overall, patience is key when growing Sky Pencil holly, as its slow growth rate contributes to its longevity and durability in the landscape.

The best place to plant Sky Pencil holly is in a location that meets its specific requirements for sunlight, soil, and space. Here are some considerations:

Sunlight: Choose a site that receives partial to full sunlight. Sky Pencil holly prefers full sun but can tolerate some shade. Ensure it gets at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal growth and dense foliage.

Soil: Plant Sky Pencil holly in well-draining soil with good fertility. It prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil pH. Amending the soil with organic matter, such as compost, can improve soil structure and fertility, providing an ideal growing environment.

Space: Sky Pencil holly has a narrow, columnar growth habit, making it suitable for tight spaces, such as narrow garden beds, along walkways, or as a vertical accent in mixed borders. Ensure adequate spacing between plants to allow for proper air circulation and prevent overcrowding as they mature.

Protection: Consider planting Sky Pencil holly in a location protected from strong winds, particularly in regions with harsh winters. Wind protection helps reduce the risk of winter damage and maintains the plant's upright form.

Aesthetics: Sky Pencil holly's unique vertical growth habit makes it an excellent choice for adding height and architectural interest to landscape designs. Plant it as a focal point, specimen plant, or in groupings for a dramatic effect. It also works well in containers, where its upright form can create a striking vertical element on patios or decks.

By selecting a suitable planting location based on these factors, you can ensure the Sky Pencil holly thrives and enhances the beauty of your landscape.

When planting Sky Pencil Holly, proper spacing is essential to ensure healthy growth and an attractive appearance. Here are the recommended spacing guidelines:

Distance Between Plants: Space Sky Pencil Holly plants about 2 to 3 feet apart. This spacing allows each plant enough room to grow without overcrowding while maintaining their columnar shape.

Hedges and Screens: If you are planting Sky Pencil Holly to create a hedge or screen, you can space them closer together, about 2 feet apart, to achieve a denser look more quickly.

Consider Mature Size: Keep in mind that Sky Pencil Holly can reach a height of 6 to 10 feet and a width of about 1 to 3 feet at maturity. Providing adequate spacing helps to ensure proper air circulation and reduces the risk of disease.

By following these spacing guidelines, you can ensure that your Sky Pencil Holly plants grow healthily and achieve the desired aesthetic effect in your landscape.

Caring for Sky Pencil holly involves providing the right growing conditions and regular maintenance to ensure its health and appearance. Here are essential care tips for this plant:

Sunlight: Plant Sky Pencil holly in a location with partial to full sunlight. While it tolerates some shade, it typically performs best in full sun, which promotes dense growth and maintains its upright form.

Soil: Ensure well-draining soil with good fertility. Sky Pencil holly prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil pH. Amending the soil with organic matter such as compost can improve soil structure and fertility.

Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, especially during the plant's establishment period. Once established, Sky Pencil holly is moderately drought-tolerant but benefits from regular watering during dry spells, particularly in hot climates.

Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as shredded bark or wood chips, around the base of the plant. Mulch helps retain soil moisture, suppresses weed growth, and regulates soil temperature. Maintain a mulch layer of about 2-3 inches, ensuring it doesn't directly touch the plant's stem.

Fertilization: Feed Sky Pencil holly with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring before new growth emerges. Follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding application rates and frequency. Avoid fertilizing late in the growing season, as this can stimulate new growth vulnerable to frost damage.

Pruning: Regular pruning helps maintain the plant's shape and size, encourages dense growth, and removes dead or diseased branches. Prune Sky Pencil holly in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Use sharp, clean pruning tools and follow proper pruning techniques to avoid damaging the plant.

Pest and Disease Control: Sky Pencil holly is relatively resistant to pests and diseases. However, occasional issues such as leaf spot, powdery mildew, and scale insects may occur. Monitor the plant regularly for signs of pests or diseases and treat promptly using appropriate methods, such as pruning affected areas or applying horticultural oils or insecticidal soaps.

Winter Protection: In regions with harsh winters, consider providing winter protection for Sky Pencil holly, especially for young or newly planted specimens. Mulch around the base of the plant and consider wrapping the plant with burlap or providing a windbreak to shield it from cold winds and reduce the risk of winter damage.

By following these care guidelines, you can help ensure the health, vitality, and beauty of your Sky Pencil holly plant.

Pruning Sky Pencil holly helps maintain its desired shape, promote healthy growth, and manage its size. Here's how to prune this plant effectively:

Timing: Prune Sky Pencil holly in late winter or early spring before new growth emerges. This timing allows the plant to recover quickly and minimizes stress.

Tools: Use sharp and clean pruning shears or hedge trimmers suitable for the size of the branches you're cutting. Disinfect the tools before and after use to prevent the spread of diseases.

Remove Dead or Diseased Branches: Start by inspecting the plant for any dead, damaged, or diseased branches. Use pruning shears to remove these branches back to the nearest healthy junction or main stem. This helps improve the plant's overall health and appearance.

Shape the Plant: Sky Pencil holly is often grown as a vertical accent or in a formal hedge. To maintain its desired shape, prune the outermost branches lightly to encourage dense growth. Use hedge trimmers to create a neat and uniform appearance, trimming slightly narrower at the top than at the bottom to allow sunlight to reach the lower branches.

Reduce Size if Necessary: If the Sky Pencil holly has outgrown its space, you can prune it back to control its size. Cut back the branches selectively to the desired height and width, making sure not to remove more than one-third of the plant's total foliage at once to avoid stressing the plant.

Regular Maintenance: After the initial shaping, perform light pruning throughout the growing season as needed to maintain the desired shape and size. Avoid heavy pruning during the summer months, as this can stimulate new growth that may be vulnerable to frost damage in winter.

Safety Precautions: Wear gloves and protective clothing when pruning to protect yourself from the plant's sharp leaves and branches. Also, be mindful of any wildlife, such as nesting birds, before pruning to avoid disturbing them.

By following these pruning guidelines, you can keep your Sky Pencil holly healthy, attractive, and well-maintained throughout the year.

The best time to plant Sky Pencil holly is during the early spring or early fall. Planting during these seasons allows the holly to establish its root system before the onset of extreme temperatures in summer or winter.

Here's why planting during these times is preferred:

Spring Planting (Early to Mid-Spring): This is an ideal time for planting because the soil is starting to warm up, which encourages root growth. Planting in early spring gives the holly time to acclimate to its new environment and establish its roots before the heat of summer arrives. Aim to plant after the last frost date in your area.

Fall Planting (Early Fall): Planting in early fall allows the holly to take advantage of the still-warm soil while air temperatures are cooler. The cooler temperatures reduce stress on the plant while it focuses on root establishment. Fall planting also gives the holly a head start on root growth before the onset of winter dormancy. Aim to plant at least six weeks before the first frost date in your area.

Regardless of the planting season chosen, it's essential to provide the Sky Pencil holly with proper care after planting. Ensure the soil is well-drained, water the holly regularly during the establishment period, and apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to conserve moisture and regulate soil temperature.

Sky Pencil Holly can be either male or female. However, it is most commonly available as a female plant. Here are some key points about its gender characteristics:

Female Plants: Female Sky Pencil Holly plants can produce small, black berries if there is a male Japanese holly nearby to provide pollen.

Male Plants: Male Sky Pencil Holly plants, if available, do not produce berries but are necessary for pollinating female plants to enable berry production.

In many landscapes, Sky Pencil Holly is valued for its columnar shape and evergreen foliage rather than its berries. If berry production is desired, ensure there is a male Japanese holly cultivar in proximity to your female Sky Pencil Holly plants for successful pollination.

Sky Pencil holly thrives in USDA hardiness zones 6 to 8. This indicates its adaptability to a range of climates, from mild to moderately cold. It prefers temperate climates with mild winters and relatively moderate summers. However, it can tolerate occasional fluctuations in temperature and humidity.

In terms of specific climate preferences:

Temperature: Sky Pencil holly prefers moderate temperatures and is not well-suited for regions with extreme heat or cold. It can tolerate some frost but may suffer damage in prolonged periods of freezing temperatures.

Humidity: While Sky Pencil holly can tolerate a range of humidity levels, it generally prefers moderate to high humidity. In areas with low humidity, regular watering and mulching can help maintain adequate moisture levels around the plant's roots.

Sunlight: Sky Pencil holly performs best in partial to full sun conditions. It can tolerate some shade but may become leggy or less dense in overly shaded areas. Providing ample sunlight ensures healthy growth and vibrant foliage.

Soil: Well-drained soil with good fertility is ideal for Sky Pencil holly. It can adapt to various soil types, including loamy, sandy, or clay soils, as long as they provide adequate drainage. Amending the soil with organic matter can improve its texture and fertility.

Overall, Sky Pencil holly is a versatile and adaptable plant that can thrive in a range of climates within its preferred hardiness zones. With proper care and attention to its environmental needs, it can add beauty and structure to gardens, landscapes, and container plantings.

Brown leaves on a Sky Pencil holly can indicate various issues that may affect the plant's health. Here are some common reasons why the leaves of a Sky Pencil holly might turn brown:

Watering Issues: Overwatering or underwatering can stress the plant and lead to brown leaves. Ensure that the soil is well-drained and water the plant appropriately, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings.

Environmental Stress: Extreme temperatures, particularly hot and dry conditions, can cause leaf browning in Sky Pencil hollies. Providing some shade during the hottest part of the day can help mitigate stress.

Soil Conditions: Poor soil quality or pH imbalance can affect nutrient uptake and lead to brown leaves. Test the soil to ensure it is well-drained and amend it with organic matter if necessary.

Pests and Diseases: Infestations by pests such as spider mites, scale insects, or diseases like leaf spot can cause leaf discoloration and browning. Inspect the plant regularly for signs of pests or diseases and treat them promptly with appropriate methods.

Root Issues: Damage to the roots, whether from overwatering, poor drainage, or physical damage, can impact the plant's ability to absorb water and nutrients, resulting in brown leaves. Ensure the plant is planted at the correct depth and has adequate root space.

Pruning Stress: Improper pruning or pruning at the wrong time of year can stress the plant and lead to leaf browning. Follow best practices for pruning hollies and avoid excessive or unnecessary pruning.

Nutrient Deficiency: Lack of essential nutrients, particularly nitrogen, can cause leaf yellowing and browning. Consider fertilizing the plant with a balanced fertilizer according to the recommended schedule.

By addressing the underlying cause of the brown leaves on your Sky Pencil holly and providing appropriate care, you can help restore its health and vitality.

Our Process

We have perfected packaging and shipping plants & trees! That is why we DO NOT use any third-party fulfillment like most other online retailers. Your trees go straight from our farm to your door, safely packaged by our team of seasoned professionals. Our process ensures your plants leave our facility and arrive to your door in the best condition possible!