Evergreen plants bring more than the beauty of green foliage all year long. The plants also bring flowers in the spring and food for wildlife in the fall and winter. In Arkansas, where the USDA hardiness zones range from zone 6 to zone 8, gardeners choose from evergreen plants that are hardy as far north as Long Island and as far south as Northern Florida. Arkansas gardeners also have to take into consideration the five different types of soil in the state: the fine-grained, fertile soils of the Delta, the silt and sedimentary soil of Crowley’s Ridge, the sandy loam alone the Coastal Plain, the shale and sandstone of the Ouachitas and finally the limestone of the Ozarks. The hardiness zones cannot be changed, but the soils can be amended to accommodate most plants.
Yaupon (Ilex vomitoria) is also known as yaupon holly and is an evergreen shrub or small tree that grows from 20 to 25 feet tall. The plant features small, 1-inch long dark-green leaves and small, abundant white flowers that bloom in spring growing close to the stem. The plant will be either male or female and one of each is needed for the female plants to produce the small red berries that stay on the tree through the winter. Plant yaupon in full sun, partial shade or full shade and in a soil that is moist to wet. In Arkansas, the shrub is hardy in zone 8A in the southern part of the state. Birds and wildlife will make a meal out of the berries in the winter.
Shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata P. Mill) is an evergreen tree that grows from 50 to 100 feet tall with short branches that create a pyramid-shaped crown. The tree is widespread throughout the South and is hardy in all of Arkansas. The bright-green needles grow to be 5 inches long, yellow flowers bloom in February and March and are followed by reddish-brown pine cones. Plant shortleaf pine in partial shade and a dry, sandy soil. Small animals and birds will make a meal out of the seeds released by the cones.
Carolina Yellow Jasmine
Carolina yellow jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is also known as jessamine and is a member of the logania family. The plant is an evergreen vine that grows more than 20 feet long with thin, oblong green leaves that grow from 2 to 3 inches long and fragrant, yellow, 2-inch long tube-shaped flowers that grow from later winter to early spring. Plant Carolina yellow jasmine in partial shade for the plant to reach its full length. Plant in full sun to get a short, shrubby bush. The plant needs a moist soil or it will lose its leaves. The vine is hardy in central and southern Arkansas.