Many gardeners find broad leaf evergreen shrubs invaluable for their four-season performance. Providing garden color even in the depths of winter, many of these shrubs also have attractive spring or summer flowers, unusual bark, or fragrant foliage. Most of them, says the University of Missouri Department of Horticulture Professor Christopher J. Starbuck, maintain a neat habit and seldom experience pest or disease problems.
True laurel (Laurus nobilis) is a medium or large---10 to 30 feet high---broad leaf evergreen shrub native to the Mediterranean. Hardy to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, it has fragrant, glossy, deep green 2- to 4-inch leaves. True laurel provided the leaves used to crown winners of athletic competitions in ancient Greece, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden.
Between March and May, the shrub has tiny, greenish-yellow flowers. Deep purple berries follow the flowers on pollinated female plants. Vulnerable to powdery mildew, scale and spider mites, true laurel has few significant disease or pest problems. Use it as a specimen plant or screen in a shady area. Where winters are cold, it makes a good houseplant. Give it rich, moist well-drained soil. Prune plants freely to maintain their size and form.
Chinese Hibiscus "Persimmon"
Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) is a broad leaf evergreen shrub in areas where winter temperatures remain above 30 degrees F. Elsewhere it will grow as a houseplant. The "Persimmon" Chinese hibiscus cultivar stands 6 to 10 feet high with a 4- to 8-foot spread. It has serrated, glossy green leaves. Where winters are cold, '"Persimmon" blooms from May to September with large, trumpet-shaped, creamy pink-edged flowers. While they last only 24 hours, their prolific numbers provide ongoing color. Plants are ever-blooming in warm climates, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden.
"Persimmon" may suffer from pests and diseases including aphids, whiteflies, scale, rust, or canker. Plants in dry soil may drop their buds. Give in-ground plants full sun and moist, rich, well-drained soil with wind protection. Those overwintering indoors need high humidity and bright light but no direct sun.
Boxwood "Green Gem"
Boxwood (Buxus) "Green Gem" is a globe-forming, broad leaf evergreen reaching just 2 feet high and wide. Hardy to minus 30 degrees F, it has shiny, oval deep green leaves. Its small, yellow-green flowers appear in April. Prune annually to maintain its shape. This shrub is largely pest- and disease-free. Use it, advises the Missouri Botanical garden, as a foundation planting or in a shrub border. It likes sun-dappled partial shade and averagely moist, well-drained sandy loam. Provide a 1- to 2-inch mulch. Plants benefit from wind protection where winters are severe. Remove snow immediately to prevent branch breakage.