Best of the Tall Screening Shrubs

If you’re looking for a tall, screening shrub for privacy and sound deadening, Nellie R. Stevens hollies are the best for Texas in general. True, in East Texas, you pick up a few other candidates that thrive in acidic soils, but the best tall evergreen overall is this popular large holly.

Nellie R. Stevens hollies grow to 15 to 20 feet tall and 8 to 12 feet wide, although many people maintain them at 8 or 10 feet in height by infrequent pruning. They’re adapted to a wide range of Texas soils (acidic and alkaline), and they’re suited to both sun and shade. They’re not especially prickly, and once they’re reasonably mature, they’re reliable berry producers. Their fruit is almost marble-sized, making them some of the largest of all holly fruit. Each plant is capable of producing fruit, unlike other hollies that bear male flowers on one (fruitless) plant and female on another.

You’ll find Nellie R. Stevens hollies in all sizes in nurseries, from small 3-gallon containers, all the way to big boxed specimens that are 100 gallons in size. You’ll even occasionally find them "limbed up," that is, trained as tree-form plants with lower branches removed.

Determine if Nellie R. Stevens hollies are right for your job, then determine the spacing you’ll want for them. It’s usually best to plant them two-thirds as far apart as you intend to let them grow. Plants that will grow to 12 feet should be spaced 8 feet apart, 15 foot plants should be 10 feet apart.

The magnificent specimen in the photo is at the Addison City Hall, behind Houston’s Restaurant on Belt Line Rd. The closer photo with fruit was taken recently in the Sperry landscape.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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