Planting and Caring for Ilex Nellie R. Stevens Holly

If you're a fan of evergreen hollies, it's time to meet one of the best—the Ilex Nellie R. Stevens Holly. This evergreen shrub from the Monrovia collection is a popular landscaping choice due to its aesthetic appeal and low maintenance requirements.

In this article, we'll go over everything Georgia garden enthusiasts need to know about planting and caring for this holly variety.

Introduction to Ilex Nellie R. Stevens Holly

Nellie R. Stevens Holly

IMAGE: Servescape, Nellie R. Stevens Holly

The Ilex Nellie R. Stevens Holly is a beautiful and versatile shrub that is a hybrid between the Ilex aquifolium and Ilex cornuta. It is a popular choice among gardeners and landscapers due to its striking appearance and easy maintenance.

One of the most notable features of the Nellie R. Stevens Holly is its size. This medium-sized shrub can grow up to 25 feet high and 15 feet wide, making it a great choice for filling in larger spaces in your garden or landscape.

In addition to its size, the Nellie R. Stevens Holly also boasts shiny, dark green leaves that are thick and firm. These leaves provide a beautiful and lush backdrop to the vibrant red berries that the shrub produces in late fall.

The berries themselves are another reason why the Nellie R. Stevens Holly is such a popular choice. These bright red berries are not only visually stunning, but they also attract a variety of birds and other wildlife to your garden or landscape.

Ultimately, the Nellie R. Stevens Holly is a fantastic choice for anyone looking to add some color and interest to their outdoor space. With its size, lush foliage, and vibrant berries, it is sure to be a standout feature in any garden or landscape in the north-central Georgia region.

Choosing the Ideal Location

With its dense foliage, vibrant berries, and easy-to-care-for nature, it's no wonder that this Holly is a popular choice among Atlanta area gardeners and landscapers. However, to ensure that your Nellie R. Stevens Holly thrives, it is important to choose the right location for it.

When selecting a location for your Nellie R. Stevens Holly, there are several factors to consider, including sunlight requirements, soil conditions, and space considerations.

Sunlight Requirements

The Ilex Nellie R. Stevens Holly is a sun-loving plant that requires at least 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. When choosing a location for your Holly, look for an area that receives plenty of sunlight throughout the day. This will ensure that your Nellie R. Stevens Holly grows healthy and strong, with dense foliage and abundant berry production.

Consider planting your Nellie R. Stevens Holly in a spot that receives some shade during the hottest part of the day. This will help to prevent the leaves from scorching in the intense sunlight.

Soil Conditions

Nellie R. Stevens Holly prefers slightly acidic soil, with a pH range of 5.0 to 6.5. If your soil is too alkaline, you can lower the pH by adding organic matter, such as peat moss or compost. It is also important to ensure that the soil is well-draining, as hollies do not like to sit in water.

If you are unsure about the pH or drainage of your soil, you can have it tested by a local garden center or university extension office. This will help you to determine if any amendments are needed before planting your Nellie R. Stevens Holly.

Space Considerations

The Nellie R. Stevens Holly can grow up to 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide, so it is important to choose a location that can accommodate its size. When selecting a planting site, be sure to leave enough space for your Nellie R. Stevens Holly to grow without crowding other plants or structures in your landscaping area.

You may also want to consider a holly’s shape when choosing a location. The Nellie R. Stevens Holly has a pyramidal shape, with a broad base and a narrow top. If you are planting your Nellie R. Stevens Holly as a specimen plant, you may want to choose a location where its shape can be fully appreciated.

Planting Your Nellie R. Stevens Holly

When to Plant

Fall and early spring are the best times to plant your Nellie R. Stevens Holly. The mild weather conditions will assist with root establishment, and your Nellie R. Stevens Holly will be poised for maximal growth during the following growing seasons.

It is important to note that planting during the hot summer months is not recommended as the extreme heat can cause undue stress on the plant and stunt its growth.

Preparing the Soil

To prepare your soil, cultivate the planting area to a depth of at least 12 inches. This will help to break up any compacted soil and allow for better root growth. You can use a garden fork or tiller to do this.

Amend the soil with organic matter, such as compost or peat moss, to ensure optimal nutrition and drainage. This will provide the necessary nutrients for your Nellie R. Stevens Holly to grow and thrive.

Planting Steps

When planting your Nellie R. Stevens Holly, it is important to follow these steps to ensure proper growth and establishment:

  1. Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. This will give the roots plenty of room to grow and spread out.
  2. Remove the plant from its grower's container, and gently massage the roots to loosen from their bound growth pattern. This will help the roots to establish in the new soil.
  3. Ensure that the root ball is at ground level, and backfill with soil around the root ball, tamping down as you go to prevent air pockets from forming. This will help to anchor the plant and prevent it from toppling over.
  4. Water generously. Your Nellie R. Stevens Holly will need plenty of water to establish its roots and begin growing. Be sure to water deeply and regularly, especially during the first few weeks after planting.
  5. Lastly, add a small layer of mulch above the root ball, keeping it away from the stem of the plant. This will help to retain moisture in the soil and prevent weeds from growing around the base of the plant.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your Nellie R. Stevens Holly will have the best chance of thriving in its new home. 

Caring for Your Nellie R. Stevens Holly

Nellie R. Stevens Holly

With proper care and attention, your Nellie R. Stevens Holly can grow to its full potential. Here are some tips on how to care for this beautiful plant.

Watering and Irrigation

When it comes to watering your Nellie R. Stevens Holly, it's important to strike the right balance. During the initial growth stage, ensure that the soil is moist but not waterlogged. Once your Nellie R. Stevens Holly is established, check it regularly to evaluate its watering needs. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases, so be careful not to overdo it.

In addition to regular watering, consider using an irrigation system to ensure that your Nellie R. Stevens Holly gets the right amount of water. Drip irrigation is a great option, as it delivers water directly to the roots without wasting any water.


Like all plants, Nellie R. Stevens Holly requires proper nutrition to thrive. These evergreen shrubs prefer slow-release, balanced fertilizers in early spring to maintain optimal nutrition. Avoid using high-nitrogen fertilizers, as they can lead to lanky growth and poor berry production.

It's also important to keep your Nellie R. Stevens Holly's soil pH in the right range. Holly prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.5. You can test your soil's pH using a soil testing kit, which can be purchased at most garden centers.

Pruning and Shaping

Pruning your Nellie R. Stevens Holly is an important part of maintaining its health and beauty. It's best to prune your Nellie R. Stevens Holly once a year, in early spring, to maintain a tidy, compact shape. Remove dead and diseased branches, shaping the shrub to your desired height and width.

When pruning your Nellie R. Stevens Holly, be sure to use sharp, clean pruning shears. This will help prevent the spread of disease and ensure a clean, smooth cut.

Pest and Disease Management

While Nellie R. Stevens Holly varieties are generally tolerant of most pests and diseases, it's still important to keep an eye out for any signs of trouble. Some common pests that can affect the Nellie R. Stevens Holly include spider mites and scale insects. Treat infestations promptly with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

In addition to pests, Nellie R. Stevens Holly can also be susceptible to fungal diseases such as leaf spot and powdery mildew. To prevent these diseases, be sure to keep your Holly's foliage dry and avoid overwatering.

Encouraging Optimal Growth and Berry Production


For optimal berry production, it's best to plant more than one Nellie R. Stevens Holly variety within 50-75 feet of one another to enable optimal cross-pollination. This will help ensure that each plant is able to produce the maximum amount of berries possible.

Seasonal Care Tips

In winter, cover your Nellie R. Stevens Holly with burlap in extreme weather conditions. This will help protect the leaves and prevent desiccation from salt spray and harsh winds.

In conclusion, Monrovia’s Nellie R. Stevens Holly is a great choice for Georgia gardeners seeking a low-maintenance, evergreen shrub with beautiful foliage and bright berries. By planting these hollies in the right location and providing good care and maintenance, you can enjoy the benefits of these plants for years to come!

Nellie R. Stevens Holly

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