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Box

Hedge made of box

Evergreens include a large variety of trees and shrubs which are not conifers and which are known as broad-leaved evergreens. Most of them bear flowers and many can become quite large. Like most conifers, they keep their foliage in the fall, even though some of them may be resting or dormant in winter.

Contrary to conifers, which are more abundant in regions where the winters are more harsh, most of these plants flourish in more temperate regions of the globe. This is because most conifers cannot survive in very dry and warm climates, while many broad-leaved evergreens are killed by sub-zero temperatures.

Hybiscus

Hybiscus flower

Although we tend to think of these plants in general as being cold weather resistant, most of them aren’t. You should consider the fact that winter hardy broad-leaved evergreens often require winter protection. Maybe you’ve heard of semi-evergreens. These are plants that rarely need winter protection, but that will loose their foliage in winter if the temperatures drop too much.

By the way, do you know what kills plants during winter? The cold, you think. Actually, it’s more a combination: the cold AND the sun. Together they can rob a plant of all its moisture and freeze it dry. This is why broad-leaved evergreens that keep their foliage in winter are more sensitive. Each leaf catches the sun’s rays and that lets the plant’s moisture out.

Those winter hardy evergreens that keep their foliage year round and that do need winter protection won’t bring color to your yard during the cold season, of course, but when spring comes and you remove the protection, they will be the first splash of green to remind you that the yearly renaissance of the garden is about to begin. They will give you a head start on the gardening season.

One thing common to many evergreens is their love of acidic soils. Soils can naturally range from very acidic (4.5 pH) to very alkaline (8.5 pH). Hollies, Magnolias and Gardenias do well in a somewhat acid soil (around 6 pH), while Rhododendrons and Azaleas prefer a very acidic soil (5 pH). Finally, a few plants, like Cotoneasters, will actually prefer a more alkaline soil. So if you want to grow thriving evergreens, you should know the level of acidity preferred by each plant and adjust the soil as required. Test probes can be purchased in garden centers and nurseries. Adding sulfur or iron sulfate to your soil will bring up the acidity level. Limestone will make the soil more alkaline. Whatever you use, be sure to use the right concentration to get to your target acidity level. This can be done by mixing the powder with the soil when you first put the plant in the ground, or by spreading the powder on the ground and watering the soil. The wrong level of acidity will make the plant weak, so it will not look as healthy, it won’t make as many flowers, and it may eventually get sick and die.

Many evergreens are also very demanding when it comes to soil nutrients. Peat moss and various types of organic mulch are good fertilizers, plus they tend to slow down evaporation and keep the moisture in the ground. This is good, since most evergreens prefer a soil that remains on the moist side.

Additional pages on evergreens

We have special pages dedicated to evergreens adapted to specific conditions.

Small sun evergreens
Medium sun evergreens
Large sun evergreens
Wet sun evergreens
Small shade evergreens
Medium shade evergreens
Large shade evergreens
Wet shade evergreens

We also have page dedicated to landscaping trees and conifers.

Lists of lists

To make it simpler for you to find the plants that will fit your landscaping plan, we have created lists of plants based on various characteristics.

Note that, in most lists, plants from different climate zones with different growing conditions may be mixed together. Before making a final choice on any given plant, always check all its characteristics to ensure it is the right plant for the right place.

Our favorites

Here are a few plants we particularly like.

Common Box shrubs are slow growers, but they are slow good. Their small, shinny leaves always seem to attract the eyes.
Hibiscus flowers are as varied as they are awesome. Unfortunately for many of us, most varieties are not suited for colder climates.
Hollies are another eye catcher, especially when their bright, shinny green foliage is speckled with bright red berries.
Magnolias are stricking in full bloom. Some have many huge flowers, while others have countless small ones. Some have bright pink flowers, some have pure white ones. So choose your flower, choose your color, choose your magnolia. Note that only some species are evergreens.
The beauty of a Mountain Laurel is full bloom is breathtaking. This plant can survive temperatures well below freezing as well as scorching heat.
There are also many varieties of Rhododendrons and a number of them do survive harsh winters. They are often among the first plants to bloom in the spring and some species literally become covered in blooms.

Really tall plants

This list includes only plants that can grow over 25 feet.

Scientific name Common name Flower color Flower period
Cinnamomum camphora Camphor tree Yellow-orange Spring
Eucalyptus ficifolia Red Flowering Gum Pink-red Summer to spring
Ilex opaca American holly Red fruit Fall
Quercus viginiana Live Oak None None
Schinus molle California Pepper Yellow-orange Summer
Ulmus parvifolia sempervirens Evergreen Chinese Elm – – – –

Tall plants

This list includes only plants that grow between 10 and 25 feet in height.

Scientific name Common name Flower color Flower period
Acaccia baileana Cootamundra wattle Yellow-orange Winter
Aucuba japonica Japanese Laurel Blue-purple Winter
Bauhinia blakeana Hong Kong Orchid Pink-red Fall to summer
Citrus sinensis Sweet orange White Year round
Elaeagnus pungens Thorny Elaeagnus White Fall
Laurus nobilis Laurel White Spring
Olea europaea Common Olive White Summer
Osmanthus heterophyllus Holly Osmanthus White Spring
Viburnum rhytidophyllum Leatherleaf Viburnum White Spring

Medium plants

This list includes only plants that grow between 3 and 10 feet in height.

Scientific name Common name Flower color Flower period
Abelia grandiflora Glossy Abelia Pink-red Summer and fall
Camelia japonica Common Camelia Pink-red Fall to summer
Ceanothus thysrsiflorus California Lilac Blue-purple Spring
Gardenia Jasminoides Gardenia White Spring to winter
Hebe speciosa Showy Hebe Pink-red Summer
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Chinese Hibiscus Pink-red Year round
Ilex cornuta burfordii Burford Holly Red Fall
Ilex crenata Japanese Holly Black Fall
Kalmia latifolia Mauntain Laurel Pink-red Spring
Myrtus communis compacta Dwarf Myrtle White Summer
Pieris japonica Japanese pieris White Spring
Rhododendron ‘America’ America Rhododendron Pink-red Spring
Rhododendron smirnowii Smirnow Rhododendron Pink-red Spring
Rhododendron ‘fedora’ Fedora Azalea Pink-red Spring

Small plants

This list includes only plants that remain under 3 in height.

Scientific name Common name Flower color Flower period
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Bearberry Pink-red Spring
Cotoneaster dammeri Bearberry Cotoneaster White Spring
Daboecia cantabrica Irish Heath Blue-purple Spring to winter
Daphne cneorum Rose Daphne Pink-red Spring and fall
Erica herbacea Spring heath Pink-red Fall to summer
Mahonia aquifolium Oregon Holly Grape Yellow-orange Spring
Plumbago capensis Cape Plumbago Blue-purple Year round
Rhododendron laetevirens Wilson Rhododendron Pink-red Spring
Santolina chamae-cyparissus Lavender Cotton Yellow-orange Summer

Ground cover

This list includes plants that make a good ground cover.

Scientific name Common name Flower color Flower period
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Bearberry Pink-red Spring
Carissa grandiflora ‘Green Carpet’ Natal Plum White Year round
Cotoneaster dammeri Bearberry Cotoneaster White Spring
Erica herbacea Spring heath Pink-red Fall to summer
Leucothoe fontanesiana Drooping Leucothoe White Spring
Pachistima canbyi Canby Pachistima Green Summer
Pieris floribunda Mountain Andromeda White Spring

Plants for hedges

This list includes only plants that are known to be good choices for hedges.

Scientific name Common name Flower color Flower period
Berberis julianae Wintergreen Barberry Yellow-orange Spring
Buxus sempervirens suffruticosa Edging Box – – – –
Callistemon citrinus Lemon Bottle Brush Pink-red Year round
Camelia japonica Common Camelia Pink-red Fall to summer
Cinnamomum camphora Camphor tree Yellow-orange Spring
Elaeagnus pungens Thorny Elaeagnus White Fall
Escallonia fradesi Pink Princess Escallonia Pink-red Year round
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Chinese Hibiscus Pink-red Year round
Myrtus communis compacta Dwarf Myrtle White Summer
Pittosporum tobira Japanese Pittosporum White Spring
Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary Blue-purple Fall to summer
Santolina chamaecyparissus Lavender Cotton Yellow-orange Summer
Viburnum rhytidophyllum Leatherleaf Viburnum White Spring
Xylosma senticosa Xylosma – – – –

Plants for colder climates

For those regions where the winter can get kind of harsh, the plants listed below are good bets.

Scientific name Common name Flower color Flower period
Andromeda polifolia Bog Rosemary White Spring
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Bearberry Pink-red Spring
Buxus sempervirens Common Box – – – –
Calluna vulgaris Scotch Heather Rosy Fall
Cotoneaster dammeri Bearberry Cotoneaster White Spring
Daphne cneorum Rose Daphne Pink-red Spring and fall
Daphne caucasica Caucasian Daphne White Spring
Epigaea repens Trailing Arbutus Pink Spring
Erica herbacea Spring heath Pink-red Fall to summer

Plants that prefer dryer climates

For those locations where the soil tends to dry out, the plants listed below are good bets.

Scientific name Common name Flower color Flower period
Acacia baileyana Cootamundra Wattle Yellow-orange Winter
Arbutus unedo compacta Compact Strawberry Tree White Fall and winter
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Bearberry Pink-red Spring
Ceanothus thysrsiflorus California Lilac Blue-purple Spring
Eucalyptus ficifolia Red Flowering Gum Pink-red Summer to spring
Leucophyllum frutescens Texas Sage Blue-purple Spring and summer
Olea europaea Common Olive White Summer
Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary Blue-purple Fall to summer

Plants that do well in alkaline soils

Contrary to other evergreens, the plants listed below do well in locations where the soil is more alkaline.

Scientific name Common name Flower color Flower period
Callistemon citrinus Lemon Bottle Brush Pink-red Year round
Carissa grandiflora ‘Green Carpet’ Natal Plum White Year round
Cinnamomum camphora Camphor tree Yellow-orange Spring
Elaeagnus pungens Thorny Elaeagnus White Fall
Jasminus mesnyi Primrose Jasmine Yellow-orange Fall to summer
Laurus nobilis Laurel White Spring
Myrtus communis compacta Dwarf Myrtle White Summer
Pittosporum tobira Japanese Pittosporum White Spring
Plumbago capensis Cape Plumbago Blue-purple Year round
Pyracantha coccinea lalandei Laland Fire Thorn White Spring
Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary Blue-purple Fall to summer
Santolina chamaecyparissus Lavender Cotton Yellow-orange Summer
Schinus molle California Pepper Yellow-orange Summer
Ulmus parvifolia sempervirens Evergreen Chinese Elm – – – –
Xylosma senticosa Xylosma – – – –

Have you considered all the options available to you? If not, then have a look at our Landscaping plants page.

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