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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - February 22, 2016

From: Mesquite, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs, Trees
Title: Two Holly Cultivars for a Texas Front Landscape?
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

We are starting a new with our landscape. All existing 30-year-old plants are going to be removed. We would like a focal point at the front door area and are considering 'Savannah' or 'Nellie R. Stevens' hollies. Which would you recommend?

ANSWER:

'Savannah' Holly is an Ilex x attenuata cultivar. It is not a cultivar of a native North American plant.

The USDA has the following information: 'Savannah' holly is a beautifully shaped tree, with a narrow, open pyramidal to columnar form. A 35-foot-tall tree can be eight feet wide in 40 years, indicating a moderate growth rate. The spiny, dull, dark green leaves have wavy margins and are accented in fall with heavy clusters of red berries which persist throughout the fall and winter. Male and female flowers appear on separate trees and must be located in the same neighborhood to ensure production of berries.

'Nellie R. Stevens' is a hybrid between Ilex aquafolium and Ilex cornuta (non-natives). 'Nellie R. Stevens' Holly has kept the best traits of both parents, with lustrous, dark green leaves and abundant fruit production. Leaves are among the darkest of any plant. Vigorous and fast growing, this holly quickly grows into an attractive, broad pyramidally-shaped evergreen shrub, 20 to 30 feet
high and 10 to 12 feet wide. It will need a male holly nearby to ensure pollination and production of the vivid red berries.

Either should be a fine plant for your front landscape (although they are not natives!) if you have adequate space for the plant where it can get good sun and air circulation on all sides. Be careful of planting your new plant too close to the house or walk.

If you would like to see a selection of native possibilities take a look at the Native Plant Database and search for those native to Texas in your height range.

 

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