Unlike deciduous plants, which shed their foliage in the winter months, evergreens are those that keep their leaves year round--hence staying "ever green." Though evergreens are commonly associated with trees (and Christmas trees in particular), there are many other kinds of evergreens. Vines, palms and shrubs may also fall into the evergreen category.
Evergreen vines are a lovely addition to any garden, keeping color and texture on an archway or trellis throughout the winter. There are a number of striking species of jasmine that are evergreen vines, such as Carolina yellow jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens) and yellow star jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum). Confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is an easy to grow flowering evergreen vine native to China. The plant boasts waxy white flowers and rich, dark green foliage. Confederate jasmine will grow in full sun or partial shade in USDA zones 8 to 10, in just about any soil as long as it's well-draining.
For those looking for a more colorful evergreen vine, the red passionflower (Passiflora racemosa) is a native of Brazil that boasts exotic, bright red flowers. The plant can be grown in full sun or partial shade in USDA zones 10 to 12, in well-drained soils.
Palm trees are an easy way to bring a little tropical flavor into your garden, provided you live in a warm enough climate. The coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) will stay green year round in USDA zones 10 and 11. The drought tolerant plant has a high salt tolerance and will thrive in well-drained, sandy soils in coastal gardens. For those who have a shady garden, the shade loving bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) is an ideal evergreen choice. Bamboo palm grows best in USDA zones 10 to 12 in moist, well-drained soil. The low growing fan palm saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a good choice for those in slightly cooler climates, as the plant will grow in USDA zones 8 to 10. The drought tolerant saw palmetto will do best in well-drained soils in full sunlight.
Whether used to make formal hedges or left alone as naturalizing butterfly attractors, shrubs play a variety of roles in the garden. Evergreen shrubs include the sprawling blue butterfly bush (Clerodendrum ugandense), a native of East Africa, and the Japanese camellia (Camellia japonica), a shrub that boasts showy, roselike flowers and glossy green foliage. Camellia grows well in partial shade in USDA zones 6 to 9. The shrub prefers moist, well-drained soils that are acidic. Littleleaf boxwood (Buxus microphylla) is a dense, small-leaved plant that is a popular evergreen for manicured hedges. The shrub will grow in USDA zones 5 to 9 in partial shade. For best results, plant in well-drained soil and apply a dose of fertilizer in the spring.