When you think of evergreens you might think of tall trees towering above the landscape, but evergreens are available in a few different forms. A variety of pine, spruce and ornamental evergreens can grow up to 25 feet tall or less making them ideal for any sized space in the landscape. Dwarf forms of some evergreens grow well in containers to flank stairways and doorways in front of the home.
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Dwarf Alberta Spruce
Dwarf Alberta spruce is a medium-size evergreen shrub reaching a height of 10 feet and a slim 3 feet wide. It thrives well in containers and does not need pruning because of the shrub's tight, slow growth that keeps its shape naturally. Hardy in USDA zones 2 to 6, Alberta spruce prefers a moist, well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. The shrub needs unrestricted airflow and plenty of morning sun so moisture can dry promptly on the dense needles.
Unlike other pine trees, mugo pines won't lose their needles or lower branches as they age. The medium- to dark-green, dense, fragrant needles stay on the tree four years or more. Mugo pines reach heights of 4 to 25 feet and spread just as wide. Shallow, poorly drained soil produces a shallow-rooted tree and deep soils will allow the pine tree to grow deep roots. Mugo pines prefer full sun to partial shade in an area with well-drained, moist, loamy soil. They will tolerate alkaline or acidic soil, clay and sand. These pine trees have a medium to high drought tolerance in zones 2 to 7.
Rosebay rhododendron, also called great laurel, is one of the largest native broadleaf evergreen rhododendrons in size, along with its foliage and is also the hardiest. Rosebay rhododendron stands 4 to 15 feet tall and has large, leathery, dark blue-green foliage. In June, it blooms with large clusters of purple-pink to white, bell-shaped flowers. This rhododendron is hardy to zone 4 and prefers a wet to moist, acidic, well-drained, cool soil in partially shady areas.
Wax myrtle, also called southern bayberry, is a hardy evergreen tree reaching heights of up to 25 feet, but is usually less, at about 12 feet. It can be kept as a large shrub with regular pruning. Wax myrtle has male and female trees with yellow-green to gray-green foliage that has a spicy scent. Males bloom in March and April with yellow-green catkins, while the females -- if a male is nearby -- produces small, waxy, blue berries. Wax myrtle thrives in deep sand, loam or clay and wet to dry soils in full sun to partial shade. Hardy in zones 7 to 10, it's heat and salt tolerant with a moderate tolerance to drought and flood once established.