Penland Tree Farm

Nellie R. Stevens Holly

Nellie R. Stevens Holly 01

Nellie R. Stevens Holly 02There are many kinds of hollies, most (but not all) of which are evergreen. Some stay short and are considered shrubs, while others grow tall and are treated as trees. ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly falls into the latter category. It is an evergreen tree of the broadleaf variety.
USDA Plant Hardiness Zones for ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ Holly:
‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly can be grown in zones 6-9.
Characteristics of ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ Holly:
A fast grower, ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly typically reaches a height of about 30′, spreads out about 15′ at its base and has a pyramidal shape (i.e., it’s narrower at the top). ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly bears spiny, dark green leaves and round red berries.
Plant Care for ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ Holly:
‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly maintains its pyramidal shape without much pruning and is usually not susceptible to pest damage, making it a low-maintenance plant.
Sun and Soil Requirements for ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ Holly:
Grow ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly in full sun to partial shade in a soil that is well-drained and slightly acidic.
Uses for ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ Holly:
‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly is commonly used as a specimen tree or in a “living wall” privacy screen. For more on the uses for ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly, see below.
More on ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ Holly:

Nellie R. Stevens Holly 03In the U.S., ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly is especially popular in the South, although it is hardy to zone 6. For the next zone north of that, plant the somewhat hardier Ilex opaca ‘Mac’s Prince,’ zones 5-9. ‘Mac’s Prince’ reaches a height of 15′-30′, with a spread of 10′-20′.

‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly is a wonderful tree for winter interest, both indoors and outdoors. Branches may be pruned, so that the clippings can be brought in and used for holiday decorations. Or just enjoy its evergreen leaves and red berries in the winter landscape.

Before buying a ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly, decide on its function in your yard. It is sold both in tree form (with a single leader ) and bush form (with multiple stems at the base). When ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly is to be treated as a specimen tree, purchase the tree form: this will give you the option of removing the lower limbs so that a trunk shows. But ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly is also used en masse as a privacy screen, in which case the bush form is fine. If a tree form ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly is to be used in a privacy screen, the lower limbs are usually retained.

‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly is a female hybrid plant, a cross between the English holly and the Chinese holly. Hollies are generally dioecious plants, so you usually need both a male and female for fruit production. Strictly speaking, ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly is an exception to this rule, being what is called a partially “parthenocarpic” plant. This means that ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly is able to set some fruit without a male being present, although the fruit will be seedless. Such technicalities aside, it is still better to provide a male: doing so will produce more fruit. The male counterpart to ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ holly is Ilex x ‘Edward J. Stevens.’