Evergreen Shrubs and Trees

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The evergreen rhododendron produces brilliant spring blossoms.
The evergreen rhododendron produces brilliant spring blossoms. (Image: Rhododendron image by Jan Ebling from Fotolia.com)

Evergreen trees and shrubs offer year-round interest. They sport foliage even in the winter months, unlike deciduous varieties that lose their foliage. Evergreens fall into two categories: broadleaf evergreens, which have actual leaves, and conifers, which have needle-like foliage. Available in a wide range of sizes and shapes, evergreens can fit into virtually any landscape.

Rhododendron

Each spring the evergreen rhododendron puts on a colorful flower display. Blossoms appear in shades of pink, red, white, yellow, lavender and salmon. Many are also multicolored. Approximately 700 species exist and vary greatly in height from only a few feet to tree size.

Rhododendrons tolerate shade or full sunlight. In full sunlight, their blossom colors can become washed out. They prefer rich, moist, acidic soil with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5, according to the Ohio State University. The shrubs have a shallow root system, so undertake little, or no, cultivation around them.

Common Boxwood

The common boxwood (Buxus sempervirens), a broadleaf evergreen shrub, grows to a height of 8 feet. Often grown as a hedge or specimen planting, it is utilized as a foundation planting or along a walkway.

With regular clipping and shearing, the common boxwood can be maintained in virtually any shape. The shrub grows into a rounded mound form when allowed to maintain its natural state.

The common boxwood grows best in partial sun or full sunlight. It will tolerate clay soil, which makes it ideal for problem soil locations where other shrubs often fail to thrive. Avoid planting the boxwood in sandy soil conditions due to soil-borne nematodes, according to the University of Florida. The shrub grows best in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 6 to 9.

Chinese Juniper

The Chinese juniper grows as a ground cover, shrub or tree depending on the cultivar. The most widely accepted form of the Chinese juniper is a tree that grows to a height of 70 feet with a width of 20 feet, according to Floridata. It sports unique brownish-red bark that falls away in paper thin strips. The aroma of the tree is exceptionally strong.

Either male or female, the female produces violet berry-type cones. It tolerates alkaline or acidic soil conditions. Once established, it can tolerate periods of extreme drought. The shrub varieties are often used as a hedge planting. Other varieties make ideal ground covers that spread rapidly and can aid in soil erosion due to their deep roots.

All varieties of the Chinese juniper grow best in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 3 to 9.

Western Redcedar

A fast-growing evergreen, the Western redcedar grows to a height of up to 200 feet in its native habitat, but rarely tops 70 feet when grown as a landscape specimen. Shrub-like cultivars of the species also exist that make excellent privacy hedges. The species is favored for its sweet aroma that can fill an entire garden setting.

The Western redcedar can tolerate full sunlight but does best in partial shade. They require moist soil conditions with ample organic matter. The tree can tolerate periods of drought, but its growth can be effected. The Western redcedar grows best in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 5 to 9, according to Floridata.

Some individuals have an allergic skin reaction when they come into contact with the foliage of the Western redcedar.

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