Small Shade Evergreens

Shade presents a challenge for the home gardener. Low-light areas tend to have less moisture and often have low-nutrient soil due to close proximity to trees. Small shade-tolerant evergreens will grow in difficult soil conditions while providing a viable option for landscaping. Evergreens are plants that retain foliage throughout the year, with many varieties producing flowers that add interest to the landscape. Choose small, shade evergreens for your home landscape to add hardy accent plants to your garden design while controlling the overall size of ornamental plants.

Glossy Abelia

Glossy abelia features dark green leaves in the summer and purple foliage in the winter. This shrub maintains a mature height of 5 feet in warmer climates. Abelia produces small white and pink flowers that bloom from early summer until the first frost. Glossy abelia tolerates dry or moist soil and prefers partial shade. This plant grows quickly in the right location. Glossy abelia provides year-round color and tolerates pruning to control thinning in the center of the plant. This plant grows well in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness zones 6 to 9.

Japanese Pieris

Pieris tolerates partial to moderate shade and is 5 feet tall at maturity. Japanese pieris features spring flowers in white, red and pink. This plant showcases broadleaf foliage that turns bronze in the spring. Flowers form as clumps that drape off the plant in bunches. Japanese pieris prefers well-drained, slightly acidic soil and is hardy to zones 4b to 7. This plant works well as a foundation plant in the landscape. Deer will not graze on the Japanese pieris.

Littleleaf Boxwood

The littleleaf boxwood grows up to 4 feet tall and tolerates shady areas. Boxwood contains many branches to create dense foliage on this traditional evergreen. Boxwood tolerates severe pruning and features abundant glossy green leaves. Boxwood grooms well into topiary shapes because of its dense foliage. These plants require pruning to stay small. This evergreen shrub doesn't appeal to deer. Boxwood is hardy in zones 5 to 9.

Dwarf Japanese Yew

This dwarf variety of yew grows slowly and produces needle-like evergreen foliage. Dwarf Japanese yew tolerates full shade and requires well-drained soil. This plant remains compact to about 4 feet tall. Yew requires moist soil throughout the winter as well as in summer. Winter winds easily damage the yew, so plant in a relatively sheltered location. Dwarf yew is hardy in zones 4 to 7. Yews spread rapidly, but respond well to regular pruning to retain shape.

Keywords: small evergreens, small shade evergreens, shade shrubs

About this Author

Currently studying for her Maryland master gardener certification, Sharon Heron has written professionally since 2006. Her writing includes hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics including gardening, environment, golf, parenting, exercise, finances and consumer how-to articles.