Best Small Evergreen Shrubs To Grow

Whether you’re thinking of adding a new specimen to your garden or you simply want to fill that small space to lighten up your home, you can never go wrong with small evergreen shrubs!

Most of them come in interesting foliage formations and colors, plus their growth habit can be easily catered to, given that their height and spread would not go beyond 6 feet.

With their morphological traits differing from one another- wherein some have dark green foliage to light shade needles, compact growth habit, showy flowers and fruits, and erect or soil-hugging form – these shrubs sure have a lot to offer other than a simple garden ornament.

Moreover, the popularity of small evergreen shrubs serving various purposes such as hedges, border plants, ground cover, and a small tree for flower beds is brought about by their low maintenance and relative ease of care.

With that, get to know some of the best small evergreen shrubs that you can easily grow in your garden to turn into a haven in no time!

14 Best Small Evergreen Shrubs You Can Grow In Your Garden

Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar

Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar

An eye-catching small tree with a unique feature, you surely wouldn’t miss the weeping blue atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica)! As the name suggests, this evergreen shrub is native to the Atlas mountains in northern Africa.

Characterized by its drooping and twisted branches, the plant is remarkably known for its whorls of stiff, powdery needles that are about an inch tall. In springtime, a few small cones that grow upright are produced on the branches.

Having a slow growth rate of only about 1 to 2 feet per year, the blue atlas cedar is best planted in the spring or fall as a container plant or as a burlap specimen. For beginners, you might be relieved as they are generally easy to care for.

They can thrive in a variety of soil and watering conditions. However, it is an ideal practice to stake the plant until it is fully established, or as long as you want to modify the growth of the plant to your desired shape.

Fire Chief Globe Arborvitae

Fire Chief Globe Arborvitae @flickr

The Fire Chief Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Congabe’) is an equally gorgeous evergreen shrub that is quite low maintenance. Its rounded and dense growth habit is highlighted by its bright green set of foliage. In spring, this indoor plant would showcase bright gold foliage.

In fall, the thuja plant will flaunt its red-tipped shoots.

Due to its slow growth rate, the plant is ideal for foundation planting, as an accent for rock gardens, and as a border plant. The plant does well under full sun, but can also tolerate some partial shade. Watering should be done once a week for the first two years and adjusted until the plant is well-established.

Fortunately, the fire chief arborvitae is quite resistant to deer, pests, and diseases.

Dwarf Golden Arborvitae

Thuja orientalis 'Aurea Nana'

Dwarf Golden Arborvitae (Thuja orientalis ‘Aurea Nana’) is one of the most popular golden evergreen conifers that grow largely in northern China, Manchuria, and Korea. They have an upright growth habit with a rounded set of golden foliage that interestingly changes to bronze during the winter.

They are ideally planted in pairs and groups, and in borders or informal rows – where they can dramatically add texture to any landscape all year round. Furthermore, their compact formation makes for a perfect privacy hedge, incorporating an appealing accent to a curb at your home.

Similar to most arborvitaes, the ‘dwarf golden’ is also tolerant to some levels of drought. Watering should be done once or twice a week thoroughly, particularly for the first 2 years. It is also important that the soil drains well and that excess moisture is released to prevent root rotting and other diseases.

Moreover, the plant does well under partial to full sun, making sure that the plant is not exposed to prolonged periods of intense heat.

Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce

Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce

Having this beautiful dwarf evergreen shrub in your garden will surely bring in that winter nostalgia! The dwarf globe blue spruce (Picea pungens ‘Glauca Globosa’) is a unique topiary tree that is grafted to a hardy tree stock.

It is often seen in gardens having that lovely lollipop look, but it can also make for a stunning shrub along borders, patios, decks, and even mixed beds.

You may also find it a relief that the dwarf globe blue spruce is quite low maintenance as it appears to be deer resistant and has some level of tolerance to pests and diseases. Moreover, the bluish-green needles retain their color all year long and tend to be brighter during the summer days.

With sufficient watering and the use of humus-rich and mildly acidic soil, the tree would grow as elegantly as it should. Also, take note that the tree adores adequate moisture but can tolerate a bit of drought, particularly when its extensive root system was already well-developed.

Still, it may be best to water and fertilize the dwarf globe blue spruce as needed to keep it happy and vibrant.

Dwarf Bright Gold Yew

Taxus cuspidata 'Dwarf Bright Gold' @flickr

With its stunning and colorful foliage, the dwarf bright gold yew (Taxus cuspidata ‘Dwarf Bright Gold’) will surely bring in that ethereal garden vibe! Ideal for foundation plantings and an accent plant, the dwarf gold yew has an upright spreading growth habit.

The plant is characterized by its brightly colored foliage and this is intensified by the needles having rich gold bands around the edges. Such features are highly ornamental, thus the plant is considered among the best evergreen shrubs – with colors being retained throughout the winter season.

Generally, the plant grows about 6 feet tall and wide. It has a tendency to spread out right to the ground, able to cover rough edges and any unwanted sights. In choosing an ideal location, be sure that area receives an ample amount of morning sunlight but is shaded in the afternoon.

It may also be beneficial to keep the soil moist but not overly saturated. Watering may increase, however, during the summer season or during an extended drought.

Yew loves loamy or sandy soil that is adequately rich and well-draining.

Dwarf Scotch Pine

Dwarf Scotch Pine

The Dwarf Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris ‘Pumila’) is a conifer known for its incredibly rich blue-green needles which retain its colorful foliage throughout winter. It is quite an attractive specimen owing to its dense horizontal branches and reddish bark. Hence, it is often grown as an ornamental plant that is often trained into a rounded form.

The dwarf evergreen shrub is a staple for foundation planting and hedges and serves as an accent plant outdoors. The plant is reportedly low maintenance and is deer resistant. However, the dwarf scotch pine may be ideally trimmed from time to time so as to remove unwanted, decaying branches and in order to maintain its vibrance.

Over time, the compact evergreen shrub will grow at about 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Having a relatively slow growth rate, the plant may live up to about 40 years or more. Especially when grown under the best conditions such as the full sun to partial shade.

In addition, the conifer shrub is said to be drought tolerant and would do well on an average moisture level, but be sure that the soil is well-draining as the plant cannot stand soggy soil. This characteristic also makes the plant ideal for a moisture-conserving landscape.

Blue Shag Pine

Pinus strobus @flickr

Blue Shag pine (Pinus strobus), also known as Eastern White pine, is a sprightly dwarf cultivar derived from the witch’s broom and was discovered by Dr. Sidney Waxman of the University of Connecticut in 1978.

The blue shag pine is known for producing long, soft, and blue-green needles that may grow in relatively rounded form. The pine can be easily trained to become among those compact evergreen shrubs that are an excellent addition to any landscape.

After about 10 years, mature scotch pines will measure 4.5 feet tall and wide – having an annual growth rate of 4-6 inches. They adore the full sun and well-drained open soil, but they may also tolerate other soil types. Once fully established, they can be quite tolerant to some level of drought, particularly the ones that occur during summer.

Further, the pines do not need much trimming in order to maintain their compact and rounded shape. With this, they may be ideal for growing in container pots, planter boxes, as well as in patios.

Dwarf rhododendrons

Rhododendron minus

Dwarf rhododendrons (Rhododendron minus) are broadleaf evergreen shrubs that grow to a height of about 1 foot and expand at only 1 to 2 feet. The name rhododendron comes from the Greek words rhodo, which means rose, and dendron, which means tree.

A member of the Ericaceae family, the dwarf rhododendrons are native to China. With a woody characteristic, the plant may be propagated through grafting, layering, and seeds. Moreover, the plant possesses a purple bloom that particularly occurs during early spring.

Also, the leathery evergreen leaves are reportedly fragrant and are seemingly the most interesting part of the plant.

Dwarf rhododendrons adore moist, but well-drained and slightly acidic soil. In choosing a growing location, one must avoid prolonged full sun exposure as this can ultimately damage the foliage of the plant. The plant cannot tolerate dense and clumpy soil for this may cause rotting of the root system.

To improve soil texture, add in your organic amendments, and be sure to avoid overwatering.

This small evergreen shrub is ideally planted on border fronts, rock, or woodland gardens. If to be grown as a ground cover, it may be best to plant each at about 15 inches apart as they will later fuse to form a cover. The plant has no known serious insects or diseases.

Moon Frost Hemlock

Moon Frost Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis ‘Moon Frost’) has a beautiful bright glow that is similar to a moonlit night, hence the name ‘moon frost’. Its delightful appearance is attributed to its needles with light tones that give an off-white shade to its foliage.

During the winter, the foliage would subtly turn pink but will then turn green by the following spring.

Over time, the ‘moon frost’ broadens and tends to spread but it remains a dwarf plant. In the middle of winter, the ‘moon frost’ would have a transcendental glow that adds to its frosty appearance. Being a true dwarf conifer, the plant grows only about 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

Meanwhile, the lighter-toned needles are flat and slightly tapered, while the bark is brown and deeply fissured.

The plant may be subjected to pruning only when you want to maintain a restrictive planting. Also, it is best to grow the plant in moist but well-draining areas under partial sun.

You may also use some organic amendments to help improve the nutrients of the soil from where the plant is growing.

Japanese Cedar

Japanese Cedar

The Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) is a timeless specimen that transcends culture, history, and architecture for centuries. Native to Japan, the coniferous evergreen tree that is visually impressive has an upright form and relatively straight trunk. For years, Cryptomeria japonica serves as an ideal timber source in Japan.

However, its pleasing appearance and aesthetic value have made the tree a highly coveted specimen for landscape designs and outdoor gardens.

Belonging to the cypress family, the cedar is a monotypic genus that has no other counterparts. Among its features are the vibrant foliage, peeling bark, cones, and multiple arrow-straight trunks.

Thankfully, Japanese cedar is easy to care for. First, select an ideal planting space, noting that the tree will eventually expand and become massive. Choose an area with moist but well-draining soil and a pH level of 5 to 6.5.

Allow the tree to receive an ample amount of light but also some afternoon shade to protect it from scorching.

Watering may be done twice or thrice a week, depending on the weather. Just be sure not to make the soil soggy as this predisposes the tree to root rotting. Further, the Japanese cedar may also benefit from fertilization, particularly when using a slow-release type of fertilizer at the end of winter or early spring.

‘Fire Power’ Heavenly Bamboo

Nandina domestica 'fire power

Nandina domestica ‘fire power’ is a remarkable plant known for its attractive set of foliage accessorized by very few flowers or fruit. As an evergreen shrub, the ‘firepower’ only grows about 2 feet tall and wide. Interestingly, the leaves usually retain their vibrant red color throughout winter. 

The most appealing feature of the nandina is its contrasting foliage color where the new shoots appear green while the aged leaves develop red highlights, hence the name ‘firepower’. It has become apparent that the red foliage forms in the fall and are retained throughout winter.

For landscapes, the ‘firepower’ is ideally grown among compact evergreen shrubs. With a mounded growth habit, the plant proves to be terrific for borders and containers, adding year-round interest to any garden.

Add to this, the ‘firepower’ is delightfully low maintenance as they require little care and are quite resistant to any damaging pests and diseases.

Grow your ‘firepower’ in rich, but well-draining soil. Water regularly and thoroughly, particularly during the initial growing season. Once established, you may reduce watering based on the weather.

You may also want to apply some fertilizer and organic amendments to keep the plant vibrant and healthy. Additionally, the ideal planting season may be from fall to spring.

Blueberry Delight Juniper

Blueberry Delight Juniper

(Juniperus communis var. depressa) is a multi-stemmed evergreen shrub often grown as an ornamental plant due to its extremely fine and delicate texture that makes for an ideal landscape specimen. Native to Dakota, the plant has sprawling, dense, and shimmering foliage that will surely bring delight to any garden.

The plant is characterized by its two-toned foliage that is silvery blue in the upper portion and dark rich green in the base. Serving as an incredible ground cover, the evergreen shrub could easily hug the soil, grow at only 1 to 2 feet, and spread from 3 to 5 feet.

The shimmering foliage gives a year-round interest with foliage colors subtly changing in each season.

In autumn, for example, the blueberry delight gives off coppery hues.

Yet other than its pleasing look, the blueberry juniper provides shelter for songbirds, as they tend to use the plant to build nests away from predators. You may also find it a relief that deer and other animals would not care for the blueberry delight juniper.

However, the plant is quite susceptible to spider mites so some measures, such as the use of natural insect spray and manual control can be done to avoid distress to the plant.

In addition, the plant does well in full to partial sun, as well as in moist but well-draining and fertile soil. Mulching of the base of the plant is also recommended a few years after planting as this could suppress weeds.

Also, planting blueberry juniper along slopes and as foundation plants could prevent the occurrence of erosion.

For landscapes, the recommended spacing should be about 2 to 3 feet for a relatively denser look.

Dwarf English Boxwood

Buxus sempervirens “Suffruticosa

One of the most delectable evergreen plants is the small Dwarf English Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens “Suffruticosa”) which is relatively slow-growing, thus can be trained to form tufts of growth that are rounded and cloud-like, if not pruned.

The English boxwood is characterized by the small leaves which are dark green on the top and light green on the underside. The plant only grows at about 3 feet tall and slowly expands from 1 to 2 feet. Such characteristic is ideal for hedging and border planting along the pathways.

In addition, the plant may also be suitable for topiary, container gardens, and flower beds.

Boxwood shrubs thrive well in USDA hardiness zones 6 to 8 and tend to establish well under full sun to partial sun. Moreover, the plant needs constant watering each week, but this may increase during the summer season.

The English boxwood also prefers moist but well-draining soil, hence, a combination of clayey and sandy soil rich in organic matter is the most ideal.

Should you wish to grow these small evergreens in your garden, balancing all aspects of light, water, and soil will ensure productive and healthier growth.

Euonymus

Euonymus  @flickr

Euonymus is a genus of evergreen or deciduous flowering shrubs that are commonly known as Spindletree. The genus encompasses about 140 species and several other cultivars. They are native to East Asia but are widely distributed in western regions such as Canada and North America.

In their natural habitat, these evergreen shrubs are often found growing in forestlands and a combination of woodlands.

Some cultivars of the genus are able to produce showy clusters of flowers and bright red berries. Meanwhile, other dwarf varieties serve varying purposes such as border plants, hedges, and specimen plants in any landscape and outdoor gardens.

Their versatility and ease of care contribute to why they became one of the most popular shrubs in the landscaping world. They can be grown in a wide variety of soils, and are tolerant to both drought and waterlogging. As for lighting, they require full sun to partial shade (away from direct sunlight for at least 2-6 hours).

Some of the varieties have arching, climbing, and erect growth habit. They would usually grow from 4 to 6 feet tall and wide. Often, the shrubs are multistemmed and have a moderate growth rate.

While the plant has numerous positive attributes, it is also important to note that some species of Euonymus (E.g., E. alatus) are prohibited in some regions due to their tendency to become invasive.

Final Thought

Dwarf evergreen shrubs are ubiquitous in nature, they are an ideal part of any woodland and tropical-inspired greeneries which makes them even more in demand.

With colors ranging from dark green foliages to lighter colored ones; from small evergreen shrubs to deciduous types (which may also change in colors depending on the prevailing season); and from tall and wide to compact plants; these evergreen shrubs can certainly provide decadent artistry to just about any landscape!

Where to buy?

Looking for a reliable shop that gives the best quality specimens and planting materials? Look no further and check out plantly.io!

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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