Sky Pencil Holly

Product Description

The Japanese Sky Pencil Holly shrub quite literally makes an exclamation mark in your landscape! Introduced in 1992 by the National Arboretum in Washington, DC.

The ilex Sky Pencil Japanese Holly features a narrow, columnar form, making it an ideal choice for garden design, small areas, or specimen plants. Its dark green foliage holds it’s color year round, and the small evergreen tree produces showy purple berries in the fall on female plants. Also produces dainty creamy white flowers in early spring.

The Japanese pencil trees grow great for use as a vertical accent plant, near entryways, or as a privacy screen or narrow hedge. You can also plant it in a large container for an elegant, formal appearance. The pencil shrub maintains its columnar shape and growth habit without any pruning.

How to Plant Sky Pencil Holly Plants

This Japanese holly ilex crenata sky pencil, as it is named botanically, prefers slightly acidic soils that are well drained soil types. The plant will grow best in full sun to partial shade needed to keep the green colored leaves. Grow this plant across the United States in the department of agriculture plant hardiness zones 5-9. It is very cold hardy!

Be sure to water well the first year of planting to establish a strong root system. A newly planted holly bush needs at least a gallon of water a week. Sky Pencil plant is a female cultivar that needs a male pollinator to cross pollinate in order to produce berries.

Wondering how fast do sky pencil holly grow? This broadleaf evergreen shrub is a slow to moderate grower. The Japanese Sky Pencil holly growth rate is up to 6-12 inches per year. Because of the vertical nature of this hedge plant, it only gets 2-3 feet wide but can be pruned narrower if preferred. It can reach a mature height of 8-10 feet tall at maturity.

Pruning techniques include keeping the sky pencil tree to the desired size and shape. It is not very fast growing so it is not hard to keep the Sky Pencil Holly tree maintained. You can space them 1-2 feet apart for a beautiful sky pencil holly hedge

Japanese Sky Pencil Holly Care

Sky Pencil Holly problems that may arise include black rot, green leaves turning brown or black, web blight, or leaf spots that turn into yellow spots. Applying a slow release fertilizer once a year to the top of the root ball will help greatly with these problems. Good drainage is essential to help with root rot, wet or soggy soil as well as aerating heavy soils. Good air circulation will help prevent fungal diseases.

Sky Pencil Holly with brown leaves is usually a sign of underwatering. Increase the amount of water they are receiving to fix the problem. Mulching will help to retain moisture when watering the plant. We highly recommend keeping the soil moist during the first year of planting to establish the plant. The plant is deer resistant.

We hope you love our Sky Pencil Holly for sale. Easy to grow, easy to maintain, and free of pests and diseases… it is the package deal!

Check out other Holly Shrubs.


Botanical Name

Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil'

Sunlight Full Sun / Partial Shade
Flower Color Greenish-white
Foliage Color Dark green
Mature Height 8-10 ft
Mature Width 2-3 ft
Growing Zones 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 Growing Zones
Special Features
  • Evergreen
  • Columnar shape
  • Vertical interest
  • Low maintenance

Shipping Info

Once your Sky Pencil Holly order is placed, we will ship your plant(s) within seven business days year round unless during the checkout process you request otherwise in the space provided to do so.

Perfect Plants’ shipping specialists carefully package your plants using a proven packaging method that ensures your plants arrive healthy, colorfully alive and ready to flourish. We’ve coined the term ‘upside down box test’ and we do just that; we carefully package so that regardless of the direction your box is handled, it will not harm your precious plant that’s inside.

upside down test

No shipping process is without a problem from time to time. On rare occasions some plants may experience some of the following during their transit: drooping, minor leaf-loss and/or minimal yellowing/discoloration, minor limb damage, etc. These instances are quite rare, but can happen when shipping plants in boxes.

Plants normally recover within a few weeks after planting. If a damaged box has injured your plant on the inside, please notify us within 5 days of receiving you package(s) by emailing us a photograph of the damage.

We always do our very best to ensure that your plants are packed and shipped in the safest, gentlest and most effective way possible.

Will my plants and trees look like the photographs?

Absolutely! Unlike other online nurseries, our photos are of actual plants and trees we’ve grown here, on our family operated nursery.

our story Lloyd nurseryGrowing our own plants and trees helps to ensure we ship you the best quality plants that are free of pests and diseases.

Your plants and trees may however not ship with flowers on them, like the photographs. This all depends on the time of year you buy your plant or tree. Crape Myrtle trees, for example, only bloom during the summer months, so if you purchase one during the spring or fall, they would ship without flowers. Once planted, your plants will grow and thrive giving you flowers for many years to come!

Pot Sizes

Pot sizes (commonly referred to in gallons) are shipped in the same size nursery trade pots which may vary in actual volume. Some plants may have been at the approximate pot size listed, but require excess dirt to be removed so that you will not be paying any additional shipping costs. This doesn’t happen very often though.

Shipping Fees

Our shipping charges are based on the value of your order.  Please use the chart below to see what your shipping charge will be.

shipping matrix 2-16




The Sky Pencil Holly prefers full sun to partial shade. It does well in average soil, which should be well drained and ideally somewhat acidic. They are somewhat drought tolerant when mature, but should be watered regularly until established.

The Sky Pencil maintains its narrow, columnar shape naturally and requires very little pruning. If preferred however, this Holly can be pruned while dormant in the winter months to maintain a somewhat shorter or narrower appearance.

Because of its narrow nature, the Sky Pencil can be planted as closely as every 3 feet and also does well potted.


Dig a hole approximately twice as wide as your new plant’s root ball and deep enough so that the top of the root ball is equal with the ground level.

Loosen the root ball using a small garden spade or by hand. Breaking smaller outer roots can encourage growth into the new soil, but take care to not damage large primary roots.

Place the plant in the hole and ensure that it is situated evenly upright. Use the excavated soil to fill in around the root ball, using your foot to pack it in firmly. Thoroughly soak with a hose as you fill in the dirt. Take great care to not leave any gaps or air spaces around the root ball as this could kill the plant.

A 2-4 inch layer of mulch is strongly recommended to help retain moisture and discourage weed growth. Apply mulch over the entire planting area but keep away from the stems or trunk by a few inches. Ensure that the plant and surrounding soil is completely soaked with water.

To ensure the proper nutrients are available for the life of your Sky Pencil holly, our proprietary Perfect Plants Special Blend Soil and a once yearly application of Nutricote Total 360 Fertilizer are great considerations for your new plants!

13 reviews for Sky Pencil Holly

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Showing 10 of 13 reviews (5 star). See all 13 reviews
  1. Heather Heansley

    I received my trees within a week and very well packaged. The trees were extremely in great shape and better than I had expected. I’m extremely happy with my trees And I’m so pleased with how everything was package so securely and the trees were in perfect shape. I’m certainly going to buy more plants in the spring from this company!,! Now..I just hope these little trees will hold up through our winter for I live in northern Illinois. Wish me luck! Oh. And a fantastic price…these trees were in better shape than any nursery close to me!!

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  2. Raymond Schmarge

    2nd order—all great plants—thank you

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  3. Tom Malone

    I bought the 4-5ft for containers around my pool. Very pleased with my order as they came very well packaged. First time online plant shopper but will buy from Perfect Plants again.

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  4. Linda Manuel (verified owner)

    After having an impossible time trying to find a Japanese Sky Pencil over 3 ft tall, on May 19th I ordered a Japanese Sky Pencil from My Perfect Plants. I specified that The tree had to be between 4 and 5 feet tall or I did not want it. Elisa guaranteed me that it would meet my specifications. Six days later my plant arrived and I was more than pleased with my purchase. I can not thank Elisa and the team at the nursery for delivering exactly what they promised. I highly recommend My Perfect Plants and will recommend to friends.

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  5. Clay Mathile

    A note was included in my box letting me know that they will send a free packet of fertilizer if you leave a review.
    Here is my review: We ordered 12 of these and they came packed two per box. The shipping method was very thought out, as each tree had a bamboo stake and string to help hold it in place. Someone took time to make sure these trees shipped properly. You won’t be disappointed buying from this online nursery.

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  6. Greg V

    Ordered two 2′-3′ plants and very happy. They arrived on time, well packaged and in excellent condition. Height exactly as advertised.

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  7. Mary H.

    This was my first purchase of a plant via online shopping. The plants were in top-notch condition – super healthy looking. Packed extremely well. The ball of the plant was in a plastic planter, but then covered with thick plastic ( I assume to keep the root ball from drying out. I’m very happy. Also came with a fertlizer particular to the plant I bought – a sky pencil holly.

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  8. Gayle Larson (verified owner)

    I received my Sky Pencil Holly in perfect condition. I was having problems finding a Pencil Holly for sale that was fairly large and wasn’t extremely expensive. When I found it on, I engaged in a chat with them as to what the “real” size was. To my amazement and delight, the shrub I received was exactly as described: 4-5 feet tall from the TOP of the container to the top of the plant (not measured from the bottom of the container, which is how most suppliers measure). And, the plant is perfect. It is very refreshing to find an online supplier that is honest and keeps their word. I will definitely purchase more plants from Perfect Plants.

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    • Perfect Plants (store manager)

      We are so happy you are pleased with your new Sky Pencil Holly. Happy planting!

  9. Jaimie B. (verified owner)

    Verified reviewVerified review - view originalExternal link

    Our plant was delivered promptly with no issues and it was in perfect shape upon arrival. Would definitely recommend!

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    Image #1 from Jaimie B.
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    • Perfect Plants (store manager)

      Hi Jaimie, thank you for your feedback on the Sky Pencil Holly. We are glad you love it!

  10. Brian Davidson (verified owner)

    Verified reviewVerified review - view originalExternal link

    Really beautiful plant. Ordering plants online is a little more tricky because you cannot pick the one you want, you just know it is between x and x ft. tall. I have ordered a few plants online and while I am always within the promised height it is just barely. My plant from Perfect Plants was on the big size which really surprised me. I am not sure if I got lucky or if this is common from them but it is nice to really feel you got everything you paid for.

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    • Perfect Plants (store manager)

      Hi Brian, thank you for supporting our small family business. We are so glad you love your new Sky Pencil Holly bushes and hope they look wonderful in your landscape.

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