Evergreen shrubs are just that---shrubs that stay mostly green all year long. These shrubs are usually grouped according to the foliage. Broad-leafed shrubs have wide, flat leaves that do not drop in the fall. Needled shrubs have narrow leaves or even needles, like those of coniferous trees. All evergreen shrubs will lose some of their leaves or needles during the winter. Most like full sun, but there are some that will grow and even thrive in the shade.
Rhododendrons (Rhododendron spp. & Cultivars)
Rhododendrons are large shrubs that feature clusters of showy flowers. Azaleas are also in the same family, and the two terms can be used interchangeably. These slow-growing, broad-leaf shrubs grow well in partial shade, but need some sun to bloom. Dappled shade or morning sun with afternoon shade is best. The blooms range from bright pink to soft purple or cream, orange, red and similar shades. Roseum Elegans is a popular variety that features purple flowers that look almost blue. Most varieties average around 6 feet tall and wide. Rhododendrons are hardy to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) growing zone 4, but check the cultivar before you buy in your particular climate, as some are much more cold-hardy than others.
Boxwoods (Buxus spp. & Cultivars)
Boxwoods are very popular broad-leaf evergreen shrubs often grown as hedges. All will grow in partial shade, and some will even grow in full shade, such as the wintergreen variety. Boxwoods average between 4 and 5 feet in height and width and feature leaves that change color in the fall. Some turn brown, while others turn dark green or purple. The shrub blooms in the spring with insignificant white flowers often hidden by the wide leaves. Boxwoods are hardy to USDA growing zone 5, but choose a cold-hardy variety.
Spruce (Picea spp. & Cultivars)
Spruce shrubs are needled evergreens shrubs. Some are grown as trees. Pendula grows up to 8 feet tall with weeping branches. Others form a neat mound, such as the Elegans variety, which forms a nest shape. These slow-growing shrubs can grow in partial or complete shade and prefer cool, moist soil. Spruce shrubs are a great choice for very cold climates, as they are hardy in zones 2 through 8. They do not fare well in tropical or sub-tropical climates, however.
Juniper (Juniperus spp. & Cultivars)
Junipers are another needled evergreen shrub often grown as a tree. Many home gardeners, however, choose varieties that form a neat mound. Some also creep along the ground and are used as ground cover. Most junipers are hardy in zones 5 to 10. Popular cultivars include Old Gold, which has golden arching branches and grows to a height of 3 feet and a width of 6 feet; Blue Star, which has bluish-green needles arranged in star shapes and grows in a 3-foot tall mound; and Sea Green or Mint Julip, which grows up to 6 feet tall and is shaped like a vase, with mint-green needles.