Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 499 Ilex x 'Nellie R. Stevens'

Common Names: Nellie Stevens holly Family: Aquifoliaceae (holly Family)

'Nellie Stevens' holly


This evergreen holly with its handsome glossy leaves has been a popular landscaping item across the American South for decades. It is a large shrub that grows in a neat pyramidal shape 15-25 ft (4.6-6.1 m) in height. 'Nellie Stevens' is probably a hybrid between English holly (I. aquifolium) and Chinese holly (I. cornuta). Leaves are thick and have teeth typically associated with the holly leaf. Flowers of 'Nellie Stevens' can be pollinated by those of Chinese hollies in the area, which bloom at the same time in spring. This female holly is extremely fruitful and colorful when loaded with bright red berries in winter. It provides both food and nesting habitat for birds, including cedar waxwings, mockingbirds, robins, and woodpeckers.


Ilex x 'Nellie R. Stevens' was developed in Maryland and released to the nursery trade in 1954, it is quite popular in the southern United States.


Like other hollies, it prefers acidic soil but is quite adaptable. Keep soil moist for a few months after planting. Looks best with little or no pruning. Light: Good sun is best but tolerates part shade. Moisture: Average to dry. 'Nellie Stevens' holly is unusually drought resistant when established and tolerant of heat. Hardiness: USDA Zones 6 - 9. Propagation: Cuttings at any time of year.
'Nellie Stevens' holly


Use this holly as a specimen shrub or in a mixed hedge with other bird-attracting plants. Enjoy it's handsome profile best by planting against a light background or leave space around it to set it off to best advantage. If planted in a bed with lower shrubs, leave 3-4 ft (0.9-1.2 m) clear around the holly.


'Nellie Stevens' is an easy to grow evergreen shrub whose neat shape requires little pruning. It is heavy berrying and is quite attractive with the colorful fruit held against glossy, toothed leaves. It is similar to Burford's (I. cornuta 'Burfordii') and 'Mary Nell' (Ilex 'Mary Nell') hollies.

Jack Scheper 12/04/97; updated 11/26/98, 5/7/09

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Ilex species profiled on Floridata:

Ilex 'Mary Nell'

( Mary Nell holly, Mary Nelle holly )

Ilex cassine

( Dahoon holly )

Ilex crenata

( Japanese holly,box-leaved holly,boxleaf holly )

Ilex decidua

( possumhaw, possum haw )

Ilex glabra

( gallberry, inkberry, bitter gallberry, evergreen winterberry, inkberry holly, Appalachian tea )

Ilex myrtifolia

( myrtleleaf holly, myrtle holly, myrtle dahoon, myrtleleaf dahoon )

Ilex opaca

( American holly )

Ilex verticillata

( common winterberry, black alder, coralberry, Michigan holly )

Ilex vomitoria

( yaupon, yaupon holly )

Ilex x 'Nellie R. Stevens'

( Nellie Stevens holly )

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