Evergreen Shrubs

Evergreen Shrub, Japanese Pittosporum, plant
Add year-round color to your garden with evergreen shrubs. These beauties don't drop their leaves when winter rolls around, and many of them offer spectacular flowers in the spring and summer and colorful berries in the fall. Check out some of our favorites.

Azalea

Simply spectacular! That's the only way to describe a bed of azaleas in their spring finery. Available in a variety of shapes and colors, azaleas thrive in partial shade where they are sheltered from the hot afternoon sun. Growing 2-6 feet tall, azaleas prefer rich, slightly moist acid soil. Use them to line a walk or camouflage a foundation. They can even be grown in containers. Some newer varieties of azalea also rebloom, producing smaller but more frequent flushes of flowers from spring to fall. Some species in northern climates are deciduous.
Botanic Name:
Rhododendron sp.
Zones:
5-9 (depending on variety)
Light:
Partial Shade, Shade

Holly

Prized for its shiny green or variegated leaves and clusters of red or yellow berries, holly makes a colorful addition to any landscape. Hollies are both male and female. To enjoy a plentiful supply of berries, you'll need to have at least one male plant nearby. Size varies, but, on average, most hollies reach 4-8 feet tall. Read the plant label before you buy because some species are capable of growing into tall trees. Plant hollies in a sunny or partially sunny location, with rich, slightly moist soil. The plants require little pruning, although they don't mind being sheared into a hedge or topiary.
Botanic Name:
Ilex sp.
Zone:
3-10 (depending on variety)
Light:
Sun, Partial Sun

Camellia

The Queen of the Southern garden, camellias bloom from fall to spring in a seemingly endless array of single, double, or semidouble flowers. Colors include pink, lavender, white, salmon, red, yellow, and bicolor. Once established, camellias can last for generations, growing bigger and better every year. Most varieties grow between 4-16 feet tall and form a dense, pyramidal shape. The plants prefer a shady location that gets a few hours of morning or filtered sun. Camellias like a rich, slightly moist soil amended with peat moss or ground fir bark.
Botanic Name:
Camellia sp.
Zones:
7-10
Light:
Shade, Partial Shade

Gardenia

Enjoy color and fragrance in your backyard with gardenia. This lovely southern shrub is prized for its shiny, dark green leaves and deliciously scented single or double white flowers that appear in the spring and early summer. Gardenias thrive in slightly moist, well-drained acid soil. They like full or partial sun and good ventilation, so avoid squeezing them into an overcrowded border. Gardenias also do well in containers and, with care, can be kept indoors over the winter in northern climates. Most varieties grow 3-4 feet tall and wide. Feed once a month during the growing season with an acid fertilizer or fish emulsion.
Botanic Name:
Gardenia augusta
Zones:
8-10
Light:
Full Sun, Partial Sun

Nandina

Commonly called Heavenly Bamboo, Nandina is an easy-care evergreen shrub grown for its interesting, bamboolike foliage and large sprays of red berries. Nandina will thrive in full sun or partial shade, eventually growing 3-8 feet tall, depending on variety. It's also drought resistant and will naturalize well on a slope or hillside. Be aware that Nandina is considered invasive in several southeastern states, so check local regulations before planting.
Botanic Name:
Nandina domestica
Zones:
6-9
Light:
Full Sun, Partial Sun

Pieris

Long trusses of sweetly scented white or pink flowers that appear in the late winter and early spring have earned Pieris its common name of lily-of-the-valley shrub. Thriving in shade or partial sun, Pieris is taller than it is wide, so it's easy to tuck into tight spots in your landscape. This handsome shrub can eventually grow 8-12 feet tall and 6-10 feet wide, but dwarf varieties are also available if space is limited. Pieris prefers a rich, slightly moist, acid soil. Mulch with pine needles, shredded pine bark, or leaves to maintain consistent soil moisture. Prune Pieris immediately after flowering.
Botanic Name:
Pieris japonica
Zones:
5-8
Light:
Partial Shade, Shade

Mahonia

Talk about colorful! Mahonia, often called Oregon grape holly, develops large clusters of fragrant yellow flowers in the spring, followed by rich, blue-black berries in the summer and purplish-red foliage in the fall. As a bonus, the new growth in spring starts out bronze-red. Mahonia likes partial shade and has erect, vertical stems that grow 3-6 feet tall. Use Mahonia as a hedge or en masse in a shrub border or woodland garden. It likes rich, slightly moist, acid soil. There are also several dwarf and spreading varieties available.
Name:
Mahonia aquifolium
Zones:
5-9
Light:
Partial Shade, Shade

Cotoneaster

Where space is limited, try adding cotoneaster to your landscape. This low, spreading shrub is covered in shiny dark green leaves and generous clusters of bright red berries. Use cotoneaster as a groundcover on a slope or hillside or try flanking a walk or drive with this hardy ground hugger. Some cotoneaster varieties are deciduous so read the plant label before you buy if you are looking for an evergreen form. Cotoneaster grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. Height and width varies by species.
Name:
Cotoneaster sp.
Zones:
4-7
Light:
Sun, Partial Sun

Daphne

Sometimes the smallest shrubs pack the biggest impact in the landscape. Daphne, for example, only grows 2-3 feet tall and wide, yet its profusion of sweetly scented white flower clusters will perfume your entire garden. Plus, Daphne provides two seasons of bloom; you get a big show in the spring and another in the fall. Daphne grows in partial to full sun and prefers rich, slightly moist soil. The plants are deciduous if winter temperatures happen to drop below zero degrees F.
Name:
Daphne sp.
Zones:
6-9
Light:
Partial Sun, Sun

Boxwood

Traditionally used in formal gardens, boxwood can play a starring role in any backyard. That’s because this adaptable plant is easily shaped or pruned into a hedge, topiary, specimen, or container plant. Boxwood is prized for its soft, bright green leaves that retain their color all year long. It’s relatively slow growing, so buy the largest plants you can afford if you want immediate impact. Boxwood does best in a sunny to partially shady location where the plants will be protected from drying winter winds.
Name: Buxus sp.
Zones: 4-9 (depending on variety)
Light:
Full Sun, Partial Shade

Pyracantha

Eye-popping clusters of orange, red, or yellow berries make pyracantha a must-have plant for your landscape. This handsome evergreen has an upright growth habit that allows plants to be easily trained against a wall or fence. Because it’s a member of the rose family, pyracantha has thorny branches, so wear gloves when pruning. In the spring, pyracantha develops big clusters of white flowers that turn into the colorful fall berries that songbirds, such as waxwings and mockingbirds, feast on. Pyracantha is prone to both scab and fire blight, so be sure to buy disease-resistant cultivars. Left unpruned pyracantha will grow 8-12 feet tall and 6-8 feet wide.
Botanic Name:
Pyracantha sp.
Zones:
7-9
Light:
Full Sun

Wintercreeper

Often sold as a groundcover, wintercreeper will form low shrublike mounds that will climb and clamber over boulders and low fences. This ground-hugging charmer is a snap to grow and makes a colorful addition to foundation plantings, rock gardens, and containers. Depending on the variety, the foliage color is solid green or splashed with generous helpings of yellow, white, or silver. Wintercreeper has a slow, but steady growth rate so it won’t encroach on its neighbors. Plant in partial to full sun and water only when the soil dries out completely.
Botanic Name:
Euonymus fortunei
Zones:
4-9
Light:
Partial Sun, Full Sun

Rhododendron

If you love a big spring color show, plant rhododendrons. These magnificent evergreen shrubs form huge mounds of pink, white, rose, purple, yellow, or bicolor blooms atop dark, leathery green leaves. Rhododendrons look terrific planted singly near an entry or lined up to create a spectacular flowering hedge. These beauties thrive in partial to full sun if they are protected from extreme summer heat and drying winter winds. They also like slightly moist, acid soil. Heights vary by variety, but on average, rhododendrons grow 6-10 feet tall and wide.
Botanic Name:
Rhododendron sp.
Zones:
4-8 (depending on variety)
Light:
Partial Sun, Sun

Japanese Pittosporum

One of the best evergreen shrubs for mild, coastal locations, Pittosporum is a low-maintenance option for hedges, foundation plantings, or privacy screens. The plants sport eye-catching dark green or green-and-white foliage as well as small, intensely fragrant white flowers in the spring. Pittosporum can grow 10 feet tall and 5 feet wide, but is easily pruned to any height. It's not fussy about soil type and will tolerate sand and salt spray.
Botanic Name:
Pittosporum tobira
Zones:
8-10
Light:
Full Sun, Partial Shade

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