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Nellie Stevens Holly

Ilex 'Nellie R. Stevens'

Photo: Nellie Stevens Holly

Common Name: holly
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 15 to 25 feet
Spread: 8 to 12 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Greenish-white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Air Pollution


Grow in organically rich, slightly acidic, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prune in winter if needed. Ilex ‘Edward J. Stevens’ and Ilex cornuta males reportedly will serve as good pollinators for this female plant. However, ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ can bear some fruit without fertilization from a male pollinator because it is parthenocarpic (from Greek parthenos meaning virgin and karpos meaning fruit). This plant has better heat tolerance than many of the hollies, and is a good selection for hot southern areas.

Noteworthy Characteristics

‘Nellie R. Stevens’ is a hybrid between I. aquifolium and I. cornuta. It typically grows as a large broadleaf evergreen shrub with dense, conical form to 15-25’ tall and 8-12’ wide. It also can be trained to grow as a small tree. Oblong, glossy, dark green leaves (to 4” long) have spiny margins (typically 2-3 spines per side). Small greenish-white flowers appear in spring (April), but are generally inconspicuous. Flowers give way to often abundant amounts of berry-like bright red fruits (to 1/3” diameter) which ripen in fall and persist into winter.


No serious insect or disease problems. Potential insect problems include holly leaf miner, spider mites, whitefly and scale. Potential disease problems include leaf spot, leaf rot, tar spot and powdery mildew.

Garden Uses

Hedge, screen, windbreak, barrier or border. Specimen. Small tree.


500 - 850 cm
Full sun, Partial shade