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How to Trim Inkberry Shrubs

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Inkberry (Ilex glabra) is an evergreen shrub in the holly family. Its deep blue berries are the color of ink, giving the shrub its descriptive name. Inkberry shrubs can be used immediately in front of the house and are often used in combination with other evergreen shrubs in the landscape. Like most shrubs, inkberry can become overgrown, blocking windows or reaching into walkways. Trim inkberry shrubs the same way you prune other holly shrubs. With inkberry, it’s best to prune during the winter when the shrub is dormant. Consider pruning in December when the cuttings can be used for Christmas decorations.

Prune broken, wilted or diseased limbs as they occur. Make an angled cut at least 6 inch from the break or into healthy wood; the cut could also made just above ground level. When cutting diseased wood, cleanse pruners between cuts by dipping them into a 1-to-10 blend of bleach and water.

Prune rogue branches, those that extend well beyond the form of the shrub, to maintain shape. The branch can be cut to the ground or you can make the cut just above new leaves near the exterior of the shrub.

Prune branches in the interior of the inkberry shrub to thin it out. View the shrub 5 to 10 feet back to see where thinning is needed. Look for areas on one side where you can see through the shrub and match the vision on the opposite side.

Prune to the ground only if the shrub has become too tall or too ragged, with leafless branches or uneven growth. Loppers or a chain saw can speed up this task.


Clippings can be used to create a wreath, for fireplace mantel decoration, or small clippings wrapped with a red, silver or gold ribbon can be used as a festive decoration for individual table settings.

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