Pacific Northwest Evergreen Shrubs
Many evergreen shrubs grow in the varying climate of the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Some shrubs thrive in the wet, temperate climate of the coastal areas, while others prefer the dry conditions east of the Cascade Mountains. Growing native Pacific Northwest evergreen shrubs can add year-round color to the garden while also providing food and shelter for native wildlife.
The evergreen shrub Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) grows up to 6 feet tall. Year-round, this shrub bears holly-like, shiny, prickly leaves. The new foliage emerges with a bronze tint and matures to a dark green with bluish-green undersides before turning burgundy in the fall. In spring and summer, clusters of yellow flowers, followed by bluish purple fruits add accents of color to the foliage. The fruits can remain on the shrub throughout the fall, but are often eaten by birds. Native to open woods and shrub lands of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon grape grows best in moist or dry, acidic, well-drained soil. Plant in light shade in a location protected from winter winds and sun in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 7. Oregon grape is resistant to rust diseases that affect other plants in the Mahonia genus.
The stiff branches of Pacific rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum) reach between 6 and 12 feet tall and hold dark green, leathery leaves. In spring, clusters of pink, bell-shaped flowers bloom in a range of shades, from light pink to dark rosy purple. Pacific rhododendron grows wild in the woodlands of the Cascade Mountains and the coastal regions of Washington, Oregon and California and enjoys moist, acidic soil. Provide this shrub with sun or partial shade in USDA zones 7 through 9.
Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) grows wild in sandy locations across much of the United States, including the Pacific Northwest. This evergreen shrub typically only grows up to 12 inches tall, but spreads to 15 feet wide, making it a suitable ground cover. The twisted reddish branches bear glossy, dark green leaves and light pink flowers in spring. Summer brings large, bright or dark red berries. Kinnikinnick grows well in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 8 when planted in sandy, acidic soil and full or partial sun.
Reaching between 1 and 3 feet tall, Oregon boxwood (Paxistima myrsinites) features thick, upright, reddish branches that contrast with the glossy, dark green leaves. Inconspicuous yellowish green or maroon flowers give the plant a hazy appearance in late spring and early summer. Oregon boxwood performs best in USDA zones 5 through 7 when provided with morning sun and afternoon shade. Native to rocky cliffs and coniferous forests in higher elevations, this shrub tolerates moderately dry soil, once established. Provide regular water during the first year or two.
- Oregon State University Extension Service: Native Shrubs Can Be Leafy, Evergreen and Drought Tolerant
- “Native Trees, Shrubs, & Vines”; William Cullina; 2002