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Trees That Keep Their Leaves in Winter

laurel2 image by Jaume Felipe from

Evergreen trees produce different types of leaves: flat leaf, broad leaf and holly. The leaves stay just as bright as they are during the summer, keep color in a northern garden where everything else is done and provide a green background for the colorful winter flowers in the south.

Eastern Arborvitae

Eastern arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) is also known as arborvitae, American arborvitae and white cedar and is a member of the cypress family. The plant grows to be either a shrub or tree from 20 to 50 feet tall and 8 to 15 feet wide. The tree grows in a pyramid shape, broad at the bottom and narrow at the top with branches pointing up instead of sideways. The dark-green leaves grow tightly around the stems with the old leaves at the middle of the plant. The old leaves fall off in autumn, but the new leaves remain and turn chartreuse then back to green in the spring. The tiny flowers bloom in April and give way to small cones that start out green and turn to chartreuse and finally brown in Autumn. Plant Eastern arborvitae in full sun or partial shade and a moist well-drained loam soil. The tree is hardy in USDA Zones 2 through 8.

Carolina Cherry Laurel

Carolina cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana) is also known as cherry laurel and is a member of the rose family. The tree grows from 20 to 40 feet tall with a trunk that measures up to 10 feet in diameter. The glossy, yellow-green or dark green leaves grow from 2 to 4 inches long and 1 inch wide. Fragrant white flowers grow in clusters that are 2 to 3 inches long, blooming in late winter and early spring. Small, blue-black fruits, that are toxic to humans but a favorite food of the local birds, follow the flowers. Plant Carolina cherry laurel in full sun and a moist soil. The tree is hardy in USDA Zones 7 through 9.

Loblolly Bay

Loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus) grows up to 70 feet tall producing oblong leaves that grow from 4 to 6 inches long and white flowers that bloom in the spring and grow to 3 inches in diameter. Plant loblolly bay in full sun or filtered shade and a soil that is moist to wet. The tree is hardy in USDA Zones 6 through 9.

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