Evergreen Shrubs That Look Good In Your Garden All Year Round

Whether you are looking for foundation shrubs, bushes to plant in your front yard or plants to use for a hedge, this list of evergreen shrubs will give you some inspiration. Between their foliage that stays green all year round and the beautiful flowers, you’re sure to find something that will work in your garden.

best evergreen shrubs for your garden

When you’re planning a garden, bushes are the plants that add form and structure to your flower beds.

With their branches and size, they make great foundation plants, provide the backbone of garden beds and can create a privacy screen for your yard.

If you want your bushes to keep their look all year round, then these evergreen shrubs may be just what you’re looking for.

1 | Anise (Illicium parviflorum)

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Anise ©Arsgera - stock.adobe.com
©Arsgera - stock.adobe.com

Zones: 7 to 10
Light: Shade to Part Shade
Bloom Time: Spring
Height: 5' to 15'
Spread: 5' to 10'

Anise (Illicium parviflorum) is an evergreen native plant with insignificant yellow-green flowers in the spring.

With its heat resistance, yellow-green leaves and small star-shaped fruit, this shrub is a stand out in the Southern shade garden.

It is an easy to care for bush that likes moist soil but will tolerate some drought once established.

Find out more about Anise HERE.

Buy it HERE.*

2 | Azalea

White flowering shrubs - Azalea
Deciduous Azalea

Zones: 2 to 9
Light: Part Shade to Sun (depending on the variety)
Bloom Time: Spring, some re-bloom in the Fall
Height: 2' to 6' tall
Spread: 2' to 4' wide

Azaleas are part of the Rhododendron family so many of them have very similar characteristics.

They like acidic soil, many are evergreens and they have very pretty blooms in the spring.

However, some varieties of Azalea prefer the sun, are deciduous and have fragrant flowers so there are many different options available that you may want to try.

Encore Azalea 'Autumn Twist'
Encore Azalea 'Autumn Twist'

The newer Encore varieties will even bloom again in the fall.

Find some more of my favorite Azalea and Rhododendron varieties HERE.

Buy Azaleas HERE.*

3 | Bird's Nest Spruce (Picea abies 'Nidiformis’)

Bird's Nest Spruce (Picea abies 'Nidiformis’) ©Starover Sibiriak - stock.adobe.com
©Starover Sibiriak - stock.adobe.com

Zones: 3 to 7
Light: Sun
Bloom Time: Foliage Only
Height: 2' to 8'
Spread: 3' to 12'

Bird's Nest Spruce is a dwarf variety of the Norway spruce that gets its name from its shape.

It grows slowly to form a flattened sphere that is the perfect size for foundation plantings, rock gardens or to add some year-round structure to the front of a garden bed.

New needles come out as a bright green color that turns to gray-green as they age.

This shrub is deer resistant and very low maintenance. It only requires occasional pruning to maintain its size.

4 | Blackbird Spurge (Euphorbia 'Blackbird')

Blackbird spurge foliage (Euphorbia 'Blackbird') ©nickkurzenko - stock.adobe.com
©nickkurzenko - stock.adobe.com

Zones: 6 to 9
Light: Sun to Part Shade
Bloom Time:
Height: 1' to 2'
Spread: 1' to 2'

Blackbird spurge (Euphorbia 'Blackbird') is a bushy, dwarf evergreen shrub with colorful foliage that looks good all year round.

In the spring, it is topped by yellow-green flowers that put on a show until summer.

This plant is a favorite with gardeners because of its dark-colored leaves that turn almost black in the sun and provide color in the garden all year round.

In addition to being drought-tolerant and deer- and rabbit-resistant, Euphorbia 'Blackbird' also makes a good container plant. A very versatile plant!

Buy it HERE.*

5 | Blue Ice Bog Rosemary (Andromeda polifolia 'Blue Ice')

Blue Ice Bog Rosemary  (Andromeda polifolia 'Blue Ice') ©Taya Johnston - stock.adobe.com
©Taya Johnston - stock.adobe.com

Zones: 2 to 7
Light: Sun to Part Shade
Bloom Time: Early spring
Height: 12" to 24"
Spread: 24" to 36"

As the name suggests, Blue Ice Bog Rosemary (Andromeda polifolia 'Blue Ice') is a small evergreen native shrub with blue leaves that thrives in wet conditions and doesn't mind the cold.

Although the name implies that it's part of the rosemary family, it's actually a cousin of heather and is not edible.

In fact, Bog Rosemary is poisonous so make sure you don't get it confused with the herb.

During the winter, it's needle-like leaves add texture to your garden. And the blue really stands out against the snow.

Then the unusual pink blooms arrive in early spring to add another pop of color.

It only has one requirement: That you keep it well watered.

Plant as a ground cover or border plant to add winter interest and structure to your garden.

Buy it HERE.*

6 | Boxwood (Buxus)

Trimmed boxwood maze
Boxwood

Zones: 4 to 10
Light: Shade to Sun
Bloom Time: Foliage only
Height: 1' to 12' (depending on the variety)
Spread: 2' to 8'

Boxwood (Buxus) is an evergreen shrub that thrives in the shade.

We most often associate it with clipped hedges and balls in formal gardens.

However, it is such an easy plant to grow I think it deserves a place in any kind of border, especially since it is evergreen and grows so well under trees.

Adequate water and 3 inches of mulch take care of its maintenance needs.

Aesthetically, Buxus looks much better pruned so that its small evergreen leaves become denser. It grows slowly so once the desired shape is established, it only needs an annual shearing.

Boxwood - Green garden balls in France | © wjarek - stock.adobe.com
Boxwood - Green garden balls in France | © wjarek - stock.adobe.com

Boxwood is also deer-resistant.

Which is a good thing. If I spent a bunch of time making them into balls like this garden in France, I'd be really upset if a deer came along and wrecked it all!

Click HERE to learn more about growing Boxwood.

Buy Boxwood HERE.*

7 | Camellia

Debutante Camellia blooming
Camellia 'Debutante'

Zones: 6 - 10
Light: Part Shade to Shade
Bloom Time: Fall, Winter, or Spring (depending on the variety)
Height: 18" to 25' tall
Spread: 18" to 8' wide

Camellias are an easy-to-grow bush (or small tree if you cut off the lower branches as they grow) with dark green, evergreen leaves.

Besides their gorgeous flowers, the big claim to fame for Camellias is that they flower when most other plants are dormant: Anytime between the end of October and the beginning of May, depending on the variety.

Be sure to check the bloom time when you are buying the plant as it varies considerably between cultivars.

Camellia japonica 'April Remembered'
Camellia japonica 'April Remembered'

It does take them a couple of years to get going after they have been planted, but once established, they are covered in blooms.

Find out more about growing Camellias HERE.

Buy Camellias HERE.*

8 | Chinese Fringe Flower (Loropetalum chinense)

Zones: 7 to 10
Light: Sun to Part Shade
Bloom Time: Spring
Height: 3' to 10' (depending on the variety)
Spread: 3' to 8'

Chinese Fringe Flower (Loropetalum chinense) is a fast-growing evergreen shrub that produces lots of flowers in the spring and then scattered blooms through the rest of the season.

There are two types of this shrub - one with white flowers and green leaves, and another with pink flowers and purple leaves that turn green as they mature.

Plant Chinese fringe flower in acidic soil and it will be easy to grow with few problems

Prune after the spring flowers have faded to control the size.

9 | Daphne

Zones: 5 to 10
Light: Shade to Part Shade
Bloom Time: Late Winter to Early Spring
Height: 3' to 5'
Spread: 3' to 5'

Daphne is a compact, shade-loving, deer-resistant shrub with very fragrant pink or white blooms.

Most varieties have evergreen leaves and produce flowers in late winter or early spring.

Daphne with variegated leaves

Some even have variegated leaves, which provides a little more interest when they aren't blooming.

It can be a little tricky to get started. But keeping the plant well-watered, applying a generous layer of mulch in the spring, and pruning out the old wood once a year will help keep it alive and well.

And once it is established, Daphne is a very low maintenance bush.

Click HERE to find out more about Daphne. 

Buy Daphne HERE.*

10 | Gardenia

Gardenia
Gardenia

Zones: 6 to 11
Light: Shade to Part Shade
Bloom Time: Late spring to early fall
Height: 2' to 8' (depending on the variety)
Spread: 4' to 5'

Gardenia is a small to medium-sized evergreen shrub with beautiful white flowers that fill the air with their perfume in late spring or early summer.

And with their glossy, evergreen leaves, they even look good in the winter!

They like humid weather (which is perfect for the South) but don't do well with cold winters, so you may have to grow them in pots and bring them in if you live further North.

Gardenia 'August Beauty'
Gardenia 'August Beauty'

To make the most of their fragrance, I like to plant them close to the door and walkway.

That way anytime I leave the house, I walk right by them and can't help but smell their perfume.

Learn more about them HERE.

11 | Magnolia

White flowering bush - Pieris Japonica in the wild

Zones: 4 to 12
Light: Full to Part Sun
Bloom Time: Late Winter, Spring or Summer (depending on the variety)
Height: 10' to 30' tall
Spread: 10' to 30' wide

In the South, people tend to think of Magnolias as the very large shrubs (or trees) with leathery, evergreen leaves and huge white flowers that bloom in the summer.

However, there are many different types of Magnolias that will thrive from the colder areas of zone 4 all the way through the tropical heat of zone 12.

Some bloom in late winter, some in the spring, and some in the summer.

Many are fragrant and all have beautiful flowers.

Click HERE to find out more about Magnolias.

Buy them HERE.*

12 | Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel shrub with white flowers

Zones: 3 – 11
Light: Full shade to Part Sun
Bloom Time: Late Spring to Early Summer
Height: 3′ to 12′ tall (depending on the variety)
Spread: 3′ to 12′ tall

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is a native North American shrub that has beautiful white or pink flowers in the late spring or early summer.

It's evergreen, thrives in the shade and is easy to grow. All characteristics I love to use in my garden!

Close up of Mountain Laurel flower
Mountain Laurel

It is another one of the evergreens for shade that requires acidic soil, sheltered conditions, and mulch to keep the soil evenly moist.

But is generally low maintenance and disease-resistant.

Find out more about Mountain Laurel HERE.

Buy Mountain Laurel HERE.*

13 | Pieris Japonica

White and pink pieris japonica | © PATARA - stock.adobe.com
White and pink pieris japonica | © PATARA - stock.adobe.com

Zones: 5 to 8
Light: Shade to Part Shade
Bloom Time: Early spring
Height: 3' to 10' (depending on the variety)
Spread: 3' to 10'

Pieris Japonica is a shade-tolerant, deer-resistant evergreen that has pendant-like flowers in early spring.

Pieris Japonica 'Red Head'
Pieris Japonica 'Red Head'

In addition to the pretty blooms, this shrub puts on a show with its leaves that start out red, then change to pink and cream before becoming lime green. Which helps to add interest to your garden all year round.

It likes acidic sandy soil which is characteristic of many of the shrubs that grow well in shade.

Pieris can be toxic to pets, so if you have a dog that likes to chew on your plants, you may want to be careful about planting this.

Learn more about growing Pieris Japonica HERE.

Buy Pieris Japonica HERE*.

14 | Rhododendron

White flowering bush - Rhododendron ©Zanoza-Ru - stock.adobe.com
©Zanoza-Ru - stock.adobe.com

Zones: 3 to 9
Light: Shade to Part Shade
Bloom Time: Spring
Height: 2' to 12' (depending on the variety)
Spread: 3' to 12'

Rhododendrons were one of the very first plants I planted in my very first garden. And they're still one of my favorites.

They are easy to maintain (no pruning required!) and have beautiful flowers in the spring.

To grow healthy Rhododendrons, plant them in acidic soil, keep them well watered and provide a layer of mulch to keep the roots cool.

Rhododendron flowers come in a wide range of colors that bloom from early to late spring depending on the variety.

Rhododendron 'PJM'
Rhododendron 'PJM'

'PJM' is a compact variety that is covered in blooms in the spring.

And it's one of the only deer-resistant Rhododendrons.

You can buy it HERE.*

Rhododendron 'Yaku Prince'
Rhododendron 'Yaku Prince'

'Raku Prince' is another small plant but it has beautiful two-toned pink and white flowers.

You can buy it HERE.*

With so much variety to choose from, it's hard to have only one!

Click HERE for some tips on growing Rhododendrons.

Find more Rhododendrons HERE.*

15 | Spotted Laurel (Aucuba japonica)

Aucuba japonica 'gold dust' ©simona - stock.adobe.com
Aucuba japonica 'gold dust' ©simona - stock.adobe.com

Zones: 7 to 9
Light: Shade
Bloom Time: Foliage Only
Height: 6' to 10'
Spread: 6' to 10'

Spotted Laurel (Aucuba japonica) is a broad leaf evergreen bush that makes a great hedge or back-of-the-border shrub in the shade.

It produces clusters of maroon flowers in the spring that turn into bright red berries if you have both a male and female version planted together.

But most people grow it because of its beautiful foliage.

Even without the flowers and berries, this shrub's gorgeous green and yellow leaves add interest to your shade garden.

Find out more about Aucuba HERE.

Buy it HERE.*

16 | Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)

Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei) growing up a fence in the garden

Zones: 4 to 9
Light: Sun to Shade
Bloom Time: Spring
Height: 2' to 4' as a shrub; up to 60' as a vine
Spread: 4' to 10'

Wintercreeper (Eonymus fortunei) is a broadleaf evergreen shrub that can also be grown as a ground cover or a vine.

With it's variegated leaves that take on a pink tint in the winter, wintercreeper adds interest to your garden all year round.

It has insignificant greenish-white flowers in the spring but is usually grown for its foliage.

Euonymus fortunei is very easy to grow, tolerating drought and pretty much any kind of soil except bog conditions.

It requires pruning to maintain its size and shape since it can become invasive if left to its own devices.

Buy it HERE.*

17 | Yews

Yew
Yew

Zones: 4 to 9
Light: Part Shade
Bloom Time: Foliage Only
Height: 1′ to 25′ (depending on the variety)
Spread: 3′ to 25′

Yews (Taxus) are very reliable drought tolerant evergreens for shade that have inch long needles and red berries in the fall.

Unlike conifers, they don’t mind being pruned, so their size and shape can be easily maintained.

If you don’t want to do diligent pruning, avoid ‘Hills’,’ Hicks’, and ‘Browns’ yews because they grow too large for a border.

Yews provide all season interest and stand out in the winter garden as a green respite among the deciduous branches.

It should be noted that the berries and needles are poisonous to humans and animals.

Yews generally do not like wet conditions.

Taxus x media ‘Tauntonii’ is a dwarf yew that is perfect: it grows slowly, is very tidy and has a very dark green hue.

Yew "Emerald Spreader"
Yew "Emerald Spreader"

Taxus cuspidate ‘emerald spreader’ is another good bright green choice that gets denser if pruned annually.

Taxus Canadensis is a tough, small native that will grow in dense shade.

Click HERE to learn more about growing Yews.

Buy Yews HERE.*

Other Plants You Might Like

Do you have other suggestions for evergreen shrubs? Tell us in the section below.

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7 Responses

  • Hi Wanda, I live in New Jerseay and I’ve been wanting to get a magnolia tree but I have a lot of sun and I was under the impression that they needed shade. But this article mentions part to full sun so that’s good news for me!

    • Hi Elizabeth…There are lots of different varieties of Magnolias, so check that you’re buying one that will grow in the sun and you should be good 🙂

  • Hi Wanda. I’m the South Jersey transplant right here in Simpsonville.
    This is a really helpful list, but so many are “shade”. I’m looking to replace some Wine & Roses weigelas growing behind our patio – they’re so ugly in the winter. Love dwarf conifers but realize it’s too hot here for many. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Steve…Junipers are my needle-bearing evergreen of choice here, especially the blue ones. I’ll have to add them to the list 🙂 There are a lot of varieties to choose from (different sizes and shapes) and they’re pretty tough (I’ve had the same blue star junipers growing along my front walkway for almost 20 years and I never have to do anything with them). The only thing to be careful of is they can get bigger than the tag says if you let them. I planted a couple of taller ones along the fence in the back that were supposed to grow to 8 feet tall and now they’re up to about 25 feet.

  • I already have 10 Grey Owl junipers around my 2 Carolina Sapphire Arizona Cypress, so yes I know junipers do well in our hot summers.
    Also have 3 Cryptomeria & 5 Emerald Green arborvitae, together with some Ever Red Loropetalums and a Kousa Dogwood. All these are between my back fence and the back of my patio – designed to screen our patio from the neighbors behind us. The junipers are growing faster than I’d like & I had to trim them back hard end of last summer to gain some control. The weigelas I’m thinking of moving are in the foreground of all these, so I’m looking for dwarf & low I think. Blue Star, Birds Nest spruce and the like are on the short list. I’ll look at various junipers as per your suggestion. Thanks!

    • Wow! You do have a lot of evergreens 🙂 I was also thinking if you want to add more color, I have a couple of Encore Azaleas growing in full sun that are doing quite well (and a little easier to keep in check than the junipers), so that might be another option.

  • Good to know! I have an Encore along the side of the house (part sun) that is doing well. I planted another last fall in the back (full sun) to see if they really can take our sun. Also put in a Little Gem magnolia, 2 gold mop cypress, and 2 Little Lime hydrangeas. These are along the side fence line between a Chinese fringe tree and a Sioux crape myrtle. We’ll see how they do in the full sun as well. It’s taken me a while to learn how hot our summer sun is here. Lost a red twig dog wood and an oakleaf hydrangea to it the 1st year here. I have an Autumn Blaze maple growing out back that will eventually provide an area of shade.

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