Evergreen shrubs keep your yard vibrant all year with lush hues and foliage. Certain varieties can be trimmed into different shapes while others can grow freely to fill in hedges and rocky spaces. Some offer cooling shade, privacy, and coverage from wind and snow as well.
Growing evergreen shrubs is a worthy investment in your local environment as they add perennial visual appeal, help purify the air, and curb erosion. These plants are typically as hardy and low-care as they are beautiful. Plant some of these evergreens to enjoy years of delight and protection.
Aucuba grows six to 10 feet tall with vibrant green and gold foliage. It can grow in USDA zones 7-10. It grows slowly, but that means less pruning. In deeper shade, the leaf colors are brighter. It loves moist, well-drained soil but can tolerate moderate drought. Use cold water as hot water from a hose can promote disease.
Insects rarely bother aucuba, but watch out for scale insects and scrape them off with a fingernail. Spray the shrub with neem oil or insecticidal soap in early spring. Aucuba is toxic if ingested; avoid planting in areas where children play.
Winter heath grows up to a foot in height and spread, producing pink or purple flowers for almost half the year, including wintertime. It’s beautiful in containers and makes a lovely groundcover on a slope or in a rock garden. This shrub likes full sun to partial shade is suitable for USDA zones 5-7. Winter heath needs sandy, loamy, well-draining soil with medium moisture. Winter heath is quite resistant to disease and pests, but watch for root rot, rust, wilt, and powdery mildew.
Winter daphne can reach up to four feet tall and six feet wide over many years, exuding an unforgettably lush fragrance. The Aureomarginata variety produces amber-edged leaves and light pink blooms. The Daphne odora alba cultivar has solid green leaves with white blooms. It grows well in USDA zones 7 and 8 in light shade.
This shrub needs plenty of air around the roots, so it thrives in loose, porous soil with organic matter. Water infrequently to avoid root rot. Winter daphne is toxic; avoid planting where children or pets play.
False cypress makes a low-maintenance accent shrub with its typical pyramidal shape and hues of dark green, blue-gray, gold, or other colors. Some cultivars grow tall and wide enough to form privacy hedges, while others grow lower and can work well in rock gardens. While many varieties can grow in partial shade, their colors are usually more vivid in full sun. False cypress is hardy in USDA zones 4-8.
False cypress is cold- and heat-tolerant with soft, fern-like needles. It prefers moist, well-draining, and neutral to slightly acidic soil. Water when the soil dries. Watch for scale insects, aphids, and spider mites.
Round form varieties of arborvitae, or arbs, are dwarf evergreen shrubs that grow 12 to 24 inches in height. They have soft foliage that is green or yellow throughout the year, with a fragrance similar to lemons and cedar. They grow in USDA zones 3-8 and are especially hardy in cold climates. These deer-resistant shrubs are ideal for wind protection or privacy hedges. They like well-drained, moist soil in full sun or partial shade. Look out for blight; prune and destroy infected twigs and branches.
Fast-growing, deer-resistant sprinter boxwood produces glossy, green foliage. It grows upright between two and four feet tall and wide to fill in hedges quickly. This popular shrub has small, dense, and pliable leaves that are ideal for topiary, mixed border plantings, and containers. It thrives in sun or shade and is hardy in USDA zones 5-8.
Sprinter boxwood likes moist, loamy soil with excellent drainage. Use a controlled-release fertilizer in the spring. It needs to be sheltered from strong winds, full winter sun, and heavy snow accumulations. This shrub is susceptible to decline disease, root rot, nematodes, and blight.
Inkberry holly naturally forms a dense, ball shape that doesn't need shearing. It can grow five to eight feet tall and wide and produce tiny white flowers in the spring. This shrub can thrive with at least four hours of direct sun each day and grows well in USDA zones 4-10. Inkberry holly is dioecious; there are separate male and female plants. A single male plant is usually all that’s needed, but females need a male pollinator to produce the berry-like fruits. This shrub likes rich, acidic soils kept consistently moist. It can be vulnerable to blight; prune and destroy infected branches and apply a fungicide to protect the plant.
Wintercreeper makes a beautiful low hedge or foundation on slopes to control erosion. It grows up to two feet tall with a spread of up to four feet. Many varieties have variegated leaves laced with white or gold and green which turn pinkish to red in the winter. It grows in USDA zones 5-8.
This evergreen thrives in full sun to full shade and average, medium moisture, well-drained soils. Look out for Euonymus scale, crown gall, mildew, and aphids. Wintercreeper has been reported as invasive in the eastern half of the US.
People often keep dwarf Alberta spruce trees in containers, but these plants can grow up to 13 feet tall and 10 feet in spread. These conifers thrive in USDA zones 2-6, especially in areas with cool summers and cold winters. They love full sun but can handle some shade. Dwarf Albert spruce trees need moist, well-drained soil. Water when the top three inches of soil are dry and fertilize young plants once a year. Dwarf Alberta spruce trees don’t fare well with high heat, humidity, salt spray, or air pollution. Spider mite attacks can kill them; an annual pesticide treatment may prevent this.
For year-round vibrant, cascading foliage, consider the dwarf Japanese garden juniper. This groundcover grows to flow over walls, rocks, or containers with hints of green-blue and purple. It reaches only six to 12 inches in height and spreads up to six feet. This shrub is hardy in USDA zones 5-9.
Dwarf Japanese garden junipers are tolerant of pollution, salt spray, deer, and drought. It is also disease and pest resistant and grows in any well-drained soil. This sturdy evergreen thrives in full sun to partial shade. Water deeply twice a week for the first month, then only water during hot, dry spells.
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