There are many beautiful hollies that do well in moderate climates but Nellie Stevens is one of the best. It combines a highly desirable conical shape with glossy dark green foliage, abundance of bright red berries, and fast growth. As a hybrid of English holly (I. aquifollium) and Chinese hollies (I. cornutum) it combines the beauty of the former and the drought tolerance of the latter. It can be used as a hedge, screen, or specimen and its branches are lovely in holiday arrangements.

Type: Evergreen tree.

Outstanding Feature: Fast grown, conical shape, shiny foliage, red berries.

Form: Conical.

Growth Rate: Rapid.

Bloom: Small inconspicuous white flowers in spring mature into bright red berries by fall.

Size: 20-25’ H x 10-15’ W.

Light: Sun to partial shade but stays more compact in full sun.

Soil: Prefers moist well-drained, acidic soil but adapts to less if wet feet avoided.

Fertilizer: Apply a slow release fertilizer in spring or early fall being careful not to over fertilize.

Hardiness: Zones 6-9.

Care: In the early years prune in winter or early summer to produce an attractive shape; remove dead fallen leaves and keep mulched year round.

Pests and Diseases: Scale insects, aphids, and leaf miners can be a problem.

Propagation: Semi-ripe cuttings in summer or early fall.

Comments: May produce some fruit even if not pollinated but pollination by I. cornuta will ensure berry production. Birds such as woodpeckers, robins, cedar waxwings, and mockingbirds like ‘Nellie Stevens’ for both food and nesting.

Plant profiles pointer

By Karen

2 thoughts on “Plant Profile: Nellie Stevens Holly (Ilex x ‘Nellie R. Stevens’)”
  1. Nellie R. Stevens- We planted six of these last Fall. Big fifteen gallon plants. They have been doing well all along. Bright & glossy leaves all through the winter. Right now the plants are full of white buds/flowers & they look healthy.
    However,……… just today I noticed some tinges of yellow on some of the leaves. I am worried. Is this normal or is there a problem ? What should I do ?
    Thank you.
    Sarala Rao
    2615 Creek Manor Drive
    Waxhaw, NC 28173

    1. Sarala Rao
      Several possibilities; They like acid soil so if your soil is neutral or basic give them some Holly Tone which will fertilize them as well as help with the pH. To find our more about your soil, get a soil test done through your county extension office (its free but will take a while at this time of year). Another possible cause of your problem could be the depth at which the shrubs were planted. Make sure that the ball is at the same height or slightly above the soil level so that no part of the stem is covered with soil or mulch. Some plants can stand high soil line or mulch but hollies can’t.

      Hope this helps.

Comments are closed.