Top 21 Evergreen Shrubs for Year-Round Color and Interest

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Evergreen shrubs play a crucial role in landscaping, providing year-round color, texture, and structure to gardens. Their hardiness and resilience make them a popular choice for gardeners looking to create beautiful, low-maintenance landscapes. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best types of evergreen shrubs, from deep greens to vibrant blues and even maroons, that can enhance the beauty of your garden.

Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)

Arborvitae is a tough evergreen shrub with soft, fan-like foliage that adds a unique texture to any landscape. It contrasts beautifully with broadleaf plants and is commonly used as a hedge or screening plant. Arborvitae thrives in full sun to part shade and well-drained soil, making it a versatile and low-maintenance choice for gardens.

Blue Holly (Ilex x meserveae)

Blue holly is a dense evergreen shrub with glossy blue-green foliage and bright red berries in fall and winter. Planting a male cultivar near a female cultivar is necessary for fruit set. Blue holly is ideal for hedges, screening, or as an ornamental plant near entryways, adding color and interest to the garden.

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Boxwood (Buxus spp.)

Boxwood is a classic choice for creating low hedges due to its tiny leaves and dense branching habit. Varieties like ‘Green Gem’ and ‘Green Mountain’ offer different shapes and sizes, making them suitable for various landscaping needs. Boxwood thrives in full sun to part shade and well-drained soil, and its slow growth rate allows for easy shaping into formal shapes.

Camellia (Camellia spp.)

Camellia is a slow-growing evergreen shrub known for its large, dark green leaves and beautiful winter or early spring flowers. The flowers come in a variety of colors, including white, red, pink, or bicolors, adding a splash of color to the garden. Camellias prefer part shade and rich, moist, well-drained soil, making them perfect for mixed borders or flowering hedges.

Common Juniper (Juniperus communis)

Common juniper is prized for its adaptability to various growing conditions and slightly prickly foliage. It responds well to pruning and can be trimmed into formal shapes or left to grow naturally. Common juniper is available in low-growing varieties for ground cover or upright types for vertical interest, making it a versatile choice for landscapes.

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Dwarf Blue Spruce (Picea pungens ‘Globosa’)

Dwarf blue spruce is a slow-growing shrub with striking blue-gray needles that add year-round color to the garden. It is ideal for foundation plantings or mixed shrub borders, providing a unique texture and color contrast. Dwarf blue spruce thrives in full sun to part shade and well-drained, dry soil, making it suitable for a variety of garden settings.

Evergreen Euonymus (Euonymus japonicus)

Evergreen euonymus, also known as box-leaf or Japanese euonymus, is a tough shrub that adapts well to different growing conditions. It is available in several cultivars with variegated or solid-colored foliage, adding visual interest to the garden. Evergreen euonymus is perfect for hedges or mixed shrub borders, thriving in full sun to part shade and average soil.

False Cypress (Chamaecyparis spp.)

False cypress is a coniferous shrub with soft foliage and good deer resistance, making it a great choice for gardens with wildlife. It comes in various varieties with different foliage colors, including chartreuse and grass green, adding diversity to the landscape. False cypress prefers full sun to part shade and well-drained soil, making it suitable for a wide range of garden settings.

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Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)

Gardenia is prized for its glossy, evergreen leaves and bright white, fragrant flowers. It is available in several small varieties that are perfect for container gardens or small planting spaces. Gardenias prefer full sun to part shade and well-drained soil, adding beauty and fragrance to any garden.

Glossy Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora)

Glossy abelia is an evergreen or semi-evergreen shrub with springtime flowers and small leaves. It works well as a hedge or screen, thanks to its upright, mounding habit. Glossy abelia’s lush flower clusters attract pollinators, including butterflies, making it a valuable addition to any garden.

Indian Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica)

Indian hawthorn is an easy-care, low-growing shrub with sweetly fragrant pink or white flowers in spring and blue-black berries in late summer. Its dense, mounding habit and leathery, dark green leaves provide year-round interest, making it a versatile choice for landscaping.

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Inkberry (Ilex glabra)

Inkberry is a tough, native broadleaf evergreen shrub that tolerates wet planting sites and heavy clay soil. It has small leaves and a compact growth habit similar to boxwood, making it ideal for mixed shrub borders or formal hedges. Inkberry thrives in full sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil, adding color and interest to wet, challenging planting areas.

Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata)

Japanese holly is a hardworking shrub with small foliage and a dense growth habit, making it ideal for hedges or mixed border gardens. It tolerates drought, shade, and poor soils, including clay, making it a versatile choice for various garden settings. Japanese holly’s narrow, columnar form adds height to small spaces, making it a popular choice for vertical interest.

Japanese Pieris (Pieris japonicus)

Japanese pieris, also known as lily-of-the-valley bush and andromeda, is prized for its lush ropes of bell-shaped flowers in spring and colorful berries. Its upright, slow-growing habit and glossy green foliage add texture and interest to the garden. Japanese pieris prefers part shade and moist, rich, well-drained soil, making it suitable for mixed borders or flowering hedges.

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Nandina (Nandina domestica)

Nandina, also called heavenly bamboo, has bamboo-like foliage that often turns reddish in spring and fall, depending on the variety. It bears clusters of showy red berries from late summer into winter, adding color and interest to the garden. Nandina thrives in full sun to part shade and average soil, making it a low-maintenance shrub for any garden.

Oleander (Nerium oleander)

Oleander is a flowering tropical evergreen shrub that makes an ideal screen or informal hedge in warm climates. It blooms from early summer until mid-autumn and is well-suited for seaside gardens, thanks to its tolerance of salt spray. However, all parts of oleander are highly toxic if ingested, so caution is advised when planting it in gardens with children or pets.

Oregon Grape Holly (Berberis aquifolium)

Oregon grape holly is a drought-tolerant native shrub with glossy, holly-like leaves and showy yellow flowers in spring, followed by blue-black berries in summer. It provides food and shelter for birds and can be planted in groups for a woodland garden or shaded spot. Oregon grape holly thrives in part to full shade and moist, well-drained soil, adding year-round interest to the garden.

Rhododendron

Rhododendrons are shade-loving evergreen shrubs known for their vibrant flowers in shades of red, pink, purple, and white. They thrive in dappled light or morning sun and afternoon shade, making them perfect for large shade gardens. Compact varieties are suitable for planting on the north or east side of a home, adding a splash of color in spring and clean green foliage year-round.

Scarlet Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea)

Scarlet firethorn is named for its fierce thorns and bright red berries in fall and winter. It tolerates heat and drought well, growing fast and providing year-round interest. Scarlet firethorn is evergreen in warmer zones and semi-evergreen in colder areas, making it a versatile choice for landscapes. Some varieties offer additional winter hardiness and orange-red fruit, adding diversity to the garden.

Viburnum

Viburnums are valuable habitat plants that provide food and shelter for many species. David viburnum is a low-growing evergreen variety ideal for small spaces, while Burkwood viburnum is prized for its spicy-sweet fragrance. Viburnums thrive in full sun to part shade and well-drained soil, adding beauty and diversity to any garden.

Yew (Taxus spp.)

Yews are reliable evergreen shrubs for shade, with new varieties that can thrive in sites with minimal sunlight. ‘Emerald Spreader’ is a low-maintenance variety with chartreuse foliage, perfect for spreading wide in small spaces. Yews are ideal for part shade and well-drained, dry to moist soil, making them versatile and easy to care for in a variety of garden settings.

Evergreen shrubs are essential elements in landscaping, providing year-round color, texture, and structure to gardens. With a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes available, there is an evergreen shrub suitable for every garden setting. By choosing the right evergreen shrubs and providing them with the proper care, you can create a beautiful and low-maintenance landscape that will be the envy of your neighborhood.

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