California is a gardener’s paradise. Although it’s not quite as tropical as Hawaii or Florida, just about anything will grow there. Evergreen plants provide the garden with life when everything else is dormant because they do not lose their leaves in the winter. Many evergreen shade plants will grow well in the Golden State, from shrubs to trees to groundcover.
The California rhododendron grows in the wild in the shade of the forest canopy. A very pretty shrub that looks more like a tree, it will grow to 4 to ten feet in height and bloom in clusters of light to bright pink, tubular flowers. It thrives in shady areas and loves moist soil. On particularly dry California days it will require some extra water. All parts of the California rhododendron are highly toxic and may be fatal if ingested by people or pets.
This is a very versatile shrub in that it can be grown for many different purposes. Boxwood is known as being a wonderful hedge plant, but it can also be grown successfully in containers and as topiary pieces. Boxwood will do best if given protection from the California sun, so plant it in a somewhat shaded area of the garden. When planting the boxwood, dig the hole twice as wide but the same depth as the pot in which it is currently being grown. In California, you should plan on watering the boxwood every few days if the weather is particularly dry. The University of Vermont suggests allowing the hose to barely drip on the soil around the base of the plant until the water has penetrated the top 6 to 8 inches of soil. The Buxus harlandii, or harland boxwood, is particularly well-suited to California.
Pachysandra terminalis is a neat and compact evergreen ground cover, perfectly suited for growing in the California shade garden and will even thrive in deep shade. It will bloom in dainty, white flowers on one to 2-inch spikes. Pachysandra prefers moist soil but will tolerate dry periods. This is a very slow-growing ground cover and may take a few years to completely fill an area.