University of Florida

Ilex x 'Nellie R Stevens' (Nellie R Stevens Holly)

Nellie R Stevens Holly

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  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 6A - 9B
  • Mature Height: 20 to 30 ft
  • Mature Spread: 10 to 15 ft
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Availability: Generally available
  • Drought Tolerance: High
  • Salt Tolerance: should be about moderate
  • Light Requirements: Full sun to partial sun.
  • Native Origin: Not native to North America. Invasive potential has not been assessed.
  • Soil Drainage: Tolerates well-drained sites to sites with extended flooding.
  • Foliage: Evergreen tree with no showy fall color.
  • Flowers: White, not showy flowers in the spring.
  • Pests: Free of serious pests and diseases.

Description: A hybrid between Ilex aquifolium and Ilex cornuta, Nellie R Stevens Holly has kept the best traits of both parents, with lustrous, dark green leaves and abundant fruit production. Leaves are among the darkest of any plant. Vigorous and fast-growing, this Holly quickly grows into an attractive, broad pyramidally-shaped evergreen, 20 to 30 feet high and 10 to 15 feet wide. It will need a male Holly nearby to ensure pollination and production of the vivid red berries. Chinese Holly, Ilex cornuta, will flower at the proper time and may be used for this purpose. Nellie R Stevens Holly is one of the best Hollies for the warmer regions of the country, and is ideally-suited for use as a screen or border. It maintains a nice, uniform shape without pruning.

It is now becoming widely available and is one of the best plants for making a screen due to its very dense, symmetrical habit. Locate it where it will have enough space to spread since trees become wide at the base. Lower branches can be removed to create a clear trunk for planting along a walk or near a patio, but the tree really shines as a specimen or screen allowed to develop with all branches intact to the ground. Nursery operators grow the tree either as a multi- stemmed clump or with one central leader. Multi-stemmed trees may not hold up in ice storms as well as those with a central leader. Main branches on single-leadered trees are usually well-secured to the trunk, making the tree sturdy and a permanent fixture for almost any landscape.

Nellie R Stevens Holly should be grown in full sun or partial shade on well-drained, slightly acid soil. Plants are drought-resistant once established.

Gainesville Observations: This has been a good performer in most regions where the plant has been used; our experience has been similar. Trees should make good candidates for planting near power lines where their larger size can be accommodated. Plants retain deep dark green foliage year round and trees are very drought tolerant. Plants have grown well after planting. Many bee surround the tree each spring when trees are in flower. This should be an excellent tree for planting near power lines.

Fact Sheet (pdf)
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