Common names: Nellie R. Stevens
Botanical names: Ilex x Nellie R. Stevens
Large pyramid shaped evergreen shrub with bright red berries. Full sun to partial shade. Berries are produced by female plants. Almost all Nellie R Stevens sold commercially are female. Prefers well drained, slightly acidic soil, but is generally tolerant of typical North Texas growing conditions including heat and occasional drought. Makes a good screen or border.
Size: up to 25 feet tall and 15 foot spread
Flowers: white insignificant flowers
Bloom time: spring
Berries: bright red in winter
Leaves: 2 to 3 inches long; shiny, dark green with spikes
Pests and Disease: no significant pest or disease problems
According to the University of Arkansas, Nellie R. is the result of a chance crossing between the Chinese holly (Ilex cornuta) and English holly (I. aquifolium). Nellie R. Stevens (1866-1942), a schoolteacher from Oxford, Md. took a few berries on a visit to the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. in the fall of 1900. However, the plant was not known outside the family until 1952 when Nellie’s niece decided it was time to remodel the garden.
Growing in North Texas
Plant in well-drained soil amended with compost. Dig a hole as deep as the plant in its container and about twice as wide. Center the plant and backfill with soil. Firm soil around the root ball and water thoroughly. Water only as needed after the shrub is established – usually weekly in the summer heat. Prune for aesthetics.
“Easy Gardens for North Central Texas”; Steve Huddleson; Color Garden Publishing; 2009
“Plants of the Metroplex”; John Howard Garrett; University of Texas Press; 1998
“Texas Gardener’s Resource”; Dale Groom; Cool Springs Press; 2009
“Texas Gardening – Answers from the Experts”; Laura Martin; Taylor Publishing’ 1998
Keywords (tags): shade, perennial, flowering, shrub