Save on Pinterest

10 Best Evergreen Shrubs

Evergreen shrubs can add year-round beauty to your yard and garden. Which type will you plant this spring?

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

1 / 10

Small tui trees, cypresses stand next to each other.Tatiana Stepanishcheva/Getty Images


One of the best shrub arborvitaes is ‘Mr. Bowling Ball‘, Thuja occidentalis ‘Bobozam.’ This dwarf shrub only grows two to three feet tall and wide with feathery evergreen foliage that covers all the way to the ground.

As its name implies, it grows into a rounded shape without pruning. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 3 through 8, it prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soils.

If you’re looking for a larger shrub arborvitae, up to four to five feet, try ‘Little Giant.

2 / 10

Taxus baccata European yew is conifer shrub with poisonous and bitter red ripened berry fruitsIva Vagnerova/Getty Images


When considering evergreen shrubs, many people immediately think of yews because they were popular for many decades. Yews are generally hardy in USDA Zones 4 through 7. One popular variety, Taxus x media ‘Densiformis,’  reaches full size at four feet tall and four to six feet wide. To keep it smaller, prune it annually after its flush of spring growth.

Yews are popular because they tolerate conditions ranging from full sun to shade, and they aren’t picky about the soil type.

3 / 10

Virginia Juniper and Blue Berries of AutumnMarcia Straub/Getty Images


There are dozens of juniper shrubs to choose from. Although they often have bluish-green evergreen foliage, sometimes it’s tipped in yellow. One is Gold Lace juniper, Juniperus x chinensis ‘Gold Lace,‘ which will grow up to five feet tall and six feet wide.

Junipers are hardy in Zones 4 through 9 and prefer full sun with well-drained soil.

Keep this juniper and others like it slightly smaller by trimming back larger branches in early spring. Junipers look best after type of pruning, which helps keep their loose shape.

4 / 10

Buxus balls for salefotolinchen/Getty Images


Boxwood features small green leaves that stay through the winter. Varieties include Buxus microphylla japonica ‘Winter Gem.’ This particular boxwood is known for winter hardiness in Zones 5 through 9.

Many people first see boxwood as tightly trimmed hedges or fancy topiary shapes and wonder who has the time for that kind of pruning. If you let this evergreen boxwood shrub grow without pruning, it will grow up to four feet tall. Or shear it back in spring to maintain a more formal look.

5 / 10

Red Camellia FlowersMasahiro Makino/Getty Images


A distinctly Southern shrub, camellia comes in many varieties, with rose-like blooms ranging from white to pink to red. They’re larger than many other evergreens, six feet and taller. Generally hardy in Zones 7 through 10, they grow best in partial shade with well-drained soils. Flowers appear from fall to early spring, depending on the variety.

To give your camellia its best chance, keep it watered the first year until it becomes established. For a smaller camellia, prune it in early spring after it finishes blooming.

6 / 10

Norway Spruce (Picea abies Pumila Glauca)...DEA / RANDOM/Getty Images

Bird’s Nest Spruce

Bird’s nest spruce, Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’ doesn’t require pruning to keep its size and shape, about three feet tall with a spread of four to five feet. Hardy in Zones 3 through 7, this shrub is almost “plant it and forget it.”

Plant in full sun and well-drained soil, then water until it becomes established. It grows slowly, so plan on it taking quite a while to reach its mature size.

7 / 10

Lawsons Cypress Triomf van BoskoopNahhan/Getty Images

False Cypress

Many false cypress shrubs, like Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Cream Ball,’ are naturally dwarf and don’t require pruning to keep their size and shape. ‘Cream Ball’ only grows one to two feet tall and wide. Its evergreen foliage is tipped in cream, helping it stand out in the garden.

False cypress generally grow in Zones 4 through 8, prefering full sun and well-drained soil. They all have soft, feathery evergreen foliage. Gardeners sometimes confuse them with junipers. They look similar, but false cypress has softer looking foliage.

8 / 10

Japanese holly flowers.undefined undefined/Getty Images

Japanese Holly

While many holly plants grow almost as tall as a small tree, several dwarf varieties like compact Japanese holly, Ilex crenata ‘Compacta’, stay much smaller. This particular holly is hardy in Zones 6 to 9, prefering slightly acidic, well-drained soil.

Japanese holly also grows in full sun to partial shade. To keep it smaller than its mature height (four to five feet), prune it back in late winter, then lightly prune it to maintain its shape. Some people plant Japanese holly instead of boxwood.

9 / 10

White gardeniasSantiago Urquijo/Getty Images


Gardenia grows well in Zones 7 through 10. There are many varieties available, including Gardenia jasminoides ‘Frostproof‘ which grows up to five feet tall and three to four feet wide.

Gardenia prefers full sun and slightly acidic, well-draining soil. Some gardeners mound up soil and plant their gardenias on top of the mound to ensure they aren’t left in standing water. Plant gardenia where you can enjoy the fragrance, one of its best features.

10 / 10

Mountain Pine - Pinus MugoMassimo Ravera/Getty Images

Mugo Pine

Mugo pines can become much bigger than many people realize. But a dwarf variety, Pinus mugo var. pumilio, hardy Zones 2 through 8, is a good choice. It will take many years to reach its mature size, three to five feet tall and wide.

It grows in full sun to partial shade. Mugo pine also tolerates urban conditions, where air pollution can be tough on some plants.

To keep it more compact, pinch off new growth on the tips of the branches in the spring.

Carol J. Michel
Carol J. Michel is an award-winning author of several books including five gardening humor books and one children's book. As the holder of degrees from Purdue University in both horticulture and computer technology, she spent over three decades making a living in healthcare IT while making a life in her garden. She started writing about gardening on her blog called May Dreams Gardens which lead to numerous magazine articles, her books, and a podcast called The Gardenangelists. She was recently named a GardenComm Fellow by Garden Communicators International.