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Evergreen Shrubs For Shade (That Look Good All Year)

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 for shade will give you some inspiration. Between their foliage that stays green all year round and the beautiful flowers, they’re a great alternative to deciduous shrubs in your shade 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 or hedge for your yard.

If you want your bushes to keep their look all year round, then evergreen shrubs are the way to go.

And if you need them to grow in the shade, then this list of bushes will help.

If you need bushes for sun, you can find our list of evergreen shrubs for full sun HERE.

1 | Rhododendron

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Bright pink Rhododendron bush with evergreen leaves

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 are a beautiful flowering evergreen bush with deep green foliage and gorgeous spring blooms.

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. So if you plant a few of them, you can have flowers all spring.

Evergreen shrub Rhododendron 'PJM' blooming in the garden

‘PJM’ is a compact variety that is covered in blooms, and it’s one of the only deer-resistant Rhododendrons.

You can buy it HERE.*

Bright pink Rhododendron flower with evergreen leaves
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 to buy HERE.*

2 | Azalea

Evergreen azalea with bright pink flowers

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 they have very similar characteristics.

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

However, there are some varieties that prefer the sun and are deciduous so if you’re looking for evergreen shrubs for shade, make sure you buy the right variety.

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

Buy Azaleas HERE.*

3 | Camellia

Light pink Camellia flower
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 with pink flowers and dark green evergreen leaves
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.*

4 | Chinese Fringe Flower (Loropetalum Chinense)

Chinese Fringe Flower (Loropetalum Chinense)

Zones: 7 to 10
Light: Part Shade to Sun
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 (my favorite!)

Although the literature says it prefers part to full sun, I have two Chinese fringe flower bushes growing in the shade and they are both doing very well.

Plant Chinese fringe flower in acidic soil and prune after the spring flowers have faded to control the size.

5 | Daphne

pink flowering Daphne with evergreen leaves

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.*

6 | Gardenia

Gardenia blooms with evergreen leaves

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 shiny 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.

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.

7 | Magnolia

Magnolia flower

Zones: 4 to 12
Light: Part Shade to Sun
Bloom Time: Late Winter, Spring or Summer (depending on the variety)
Height: 10′ to 65′ tall
Spread: 10′ to 65′ wide

In the South, people tend to think of Magnolias as the very large shrubs (or trees) with glossy, evergreen leaves and huge creamy white flowers that bloom in the spring to summer. (They will grow in part shade or sun).

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.

Some Magnolias are deciduous or semi-evergreen (meaning they’re evergreen in warmer zones but not colder ones) so if you’re looking for an evergreen bush, make sure to check the variety you’re buying.

Click HERE to find out more about Magnolias.

Buy them HERE.*

8 | Mountain Laurel

White and pink Mountain Laurel flowers
©Gerry – stock.adobe.com

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

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is a native North American bush 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!

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.*

9 | Pieris Japonica

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, flowering shrub that has pendant-like flowers in early spring.

Pieris Japonica 'Red Head' growing in a courtyard garden
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*.

10 | Spotted Laurel (Aucuba Japonica)

Green and yellow leaves with red berries on an evergreen spotted laurel bush
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.*

11 | Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)

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

Zones: 4 to 9
Light: Shade to Sun
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 for shade 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.*

12 | Yews (Taxus)

Evergreen shrub - 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.

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

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

low growing evergreen shrub
Evergreen Yew “Emerald Spreader”

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

Buy Yews HERE.*

13 | Boxwood (Buxus)

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

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

Boxwood (Buxus) is a slow growing shrub with small evergreen leaves that thrives in the shade or the sun. Which makes it a great option for a hedge since it doesn’t require even lighting.

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

Trimmed boxwood growing around the base of a tree

However, it is such an easy plant to grow (and also deer-resistant), that I think it deserves a place in any kind of garden border.

Adequate water, 3 inches of mulch and annual pruning to keep its shape take care of its maintenance needs.

Buy Boxwood HERE.*

14 | Anise (Illicium Parviflorum)

Anise flower
©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 that produces insignificant yellow-green flowers in the spring. But it is mostly grown for the color of its foliage.

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.*

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Have comments or questions about these evergreen shrubs for shade? Tell us in the section below.

This post was originally published on February 12, 2021 but was updated with new content on February 20, 2023.

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    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!

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      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 🙂

  2. 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?

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      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.

  3. 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!

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      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.

  4. 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.