Stevens Holly Tree Planting


Stevens holly tree is a hybrid cultivar of two species of holly, known botanically as Ilex aquifolium and Ilex cornuta. Properly named Nellie R. Stevens holly, it has very deep green glossy foliage, bright red berries and a symmetrical pyramidal form that grows quickly to reach 30 feet high while retaining its elegant proportions sans pruning. It will produce large berry harvests when pollinated by a nearby male holly such as Ilex cornuta and works well as a screening plant in open areas or as a specimen in urban settings, according to the University of Florida.

Step 1

Select a planting site with a full sun or partial shade exposure that can accommodate the holly at its mature size of 15 feet in spread with 30 feet of overhead clearance. Plant it where it will not need to be pruned and its natural form will be shown off to best effect.

Step 2

Excavate a planting hole twice to three times the diameter of the root mass in moist but easy draining and slightly acidic soil.

Step 3

Slide the holly from it nursery pot or burlap wrap and set it into the planting hole. Add soil under the root ball if needed to bring the top of the root ball level with the surrounding soil. Orient the plant in the hole so its most pleasing aspect is facing the direction from which it will most commonly be viewed.

Step 4

Back fill half of the excavated soil around the root mass and tamp down gently with your heel to collapse any air pockets and secure the tree upright and perpendicular to the soil. Fill in the remaining soil and press down lightly.

Step 5

Create a watering moat with the remaining soil with the outer edge of the moat at the branch tip drip line of the tree. Fill the moat with water and allow the water to percolate into the soil before filling a second time. Keep the soil moist at all times, especially until the tree is well rooted into the new soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Water


  • North Dakota State University: Transplanting Trees and Shrubs
  • University of Florida IFAS and U.S. Forestry Service: Nellie Stevens Ilex
Keywords: Nellie Stevens holly, planting ilex shrubs, transplanting ilex holly

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.