Nellie R Stevens Holly trees are an evergreen hybrid holly that is a perfect addition to transform your landscape. This tree is a cross between English Holly (Ilex aquifolium) and Chinese Holly (Ilex cornuta). These hybrid holly trees are hardy and require low maintenance, making them an excellent choice for homeowners. Originally cultivated in 1954 in Oxford, Maryland, and named after the owner. So technically, the Nellie R. Stevens is a native plant. We first made the trip to visit the “birth” site back in 2020.
In this blog, we will discuss the characteristics and advantages of Nellie R Stevens Holly trees for transforming your landscape and how to plant and care for them.
Characteristics of Nellie R Stevens Holly Trees
Nellie R Stevens Holly trees are known for their dense, glossy, dark green leaves. The leaves are spineless, and they provide an elegant look to any garden. These trees grow up to ~20 – 30 feet in height and ~15 feet in width and are pyramidal in shape. The tree produces small, white flowers in the spring and bright red berries in winter, which adds to its overall aesthetic.
Advantages of Nellie R Stevens Holly Trees
- Low Maintenance: These trees are easy to maintain and do not require frequent pruning or fertilization.
- Wildlife Attractant: Nellie R Stevens Holly trees produce bright red berries that are a food source for birds during the winter months.
- Privacy Screen: Due to their dense foliage, Nellie R Stevens Holly trees make an excellent privacy screen or a hedge around your property.
- Tolerant of Partial Shade: Nellies do well when they receive partial shade but not in full shade.
Planting and Care
- Planting: Nellie R Stevens Holly trees prefer well-draining soil and full sun to partial shade. It is best to plant the tree in the spring or fall. These trees can grow in a variety of soils, including clay and sand.
- Watering After Establishment: Nellie R Stevens Holly trees do not require frequent watering. Water the tree regularly during the first year after planting. After that, they only require watering during prolonged dry spells, especially through the summer and when planted on slopes.
- Fertilizing: Nellie R Stevens Holly trees do not require regular fertilization. However, adding slow-release fertilizer once a year in the spring will promote growth.
- Pruning: Nellie R Stevens Holly trees require minimal pruning. Prune only to shape the tree or to remove dead, damaged, or diseased branches.
Nellie R Stevens Holly trees are an excellent choice for homeowners looking to add an ornamental tree to their landscape. In our 40+ years of growing and installing Nellie R. Stevens Hollies, we have found these trees to be hardy and low maintenance for the Mid-Atlantic region. We grow the Nellie Stevens Holly locally on our farm in Damascus, MD, from cuttings. Plants that are grown from cuttings in the original growing zone where they are finally established tend to be better adapted to the environment and hardier than those shipped from outside the growing zone. Our evergreens have provided a lifetime of enjoyment and privacy for our customers. Plant a Nellie R Stevens Holly tree to transform your landscape, and you won’t be disappointed.
- The University of Florida IFAS Extension. “Ilex x ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ Nellie R. Stevens Holly.” https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/ST313
- University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. “Nellie R. Stevens Holly.” https://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=C999&title=great-plants-under-20-feet-for-small-spaces