Nelly R Stevens Holly

Scientific name: Ilex x ‘Nellie R. Stevens’

‘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.

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. It is not reliably winter hardy throughout the St. Louis area where it should be sited in a protected location.