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Evergreens That Change Color

By Karen Carter ; Updated September 21, 2017

Evergreens keep their leaves during the winter, but some display more color than just their normal green. The color change for evergreens is usually slow and gradual, but not as dramatic as deciduous plants. With evergreens, the leaves usually change color before they die and are shed. Evergreens that change color are used to brighten up dull areas in a winter landscape.

Glossy Abelia

Glossy abelia (Abelia x grandiflora) is a dense evergreen shrub that grows 6 feet tall and just as wide. The normal dark green leaves change to bronze or purple in the fall. Trumpet-shaped flowers appear in pinkish-purple or white clusters in the late spring or early summer. This shrub prefers moist, good-draining soil and full sun. Provide protection from winter weather in cold areas. Prune away winter-damaged wood in the late winter or early spring. Glossy abelia is used as a single shrub, an informal hedge or a shrub border. The cultivar ‘Sherwood’ is the compact form, growing 3 feet tall.

Heavenly Bamboo

Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) grows 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide. This evergreen shrub has glossy green leaves that turn a rich-red color in the autumn. New leaves are tinted with pink. Large clusters of white flowers appear in midsummer followed by red fruit that hang on the shrub all winter. Heavenly bamboo is damaged by cold winter temperatures. This bamboo is used as a foundation plant or hedge. ‘Harbour Dwarf’ is a dwarf form of heavenly bamboo with pink or bronze tipped leaves that turn orange or red in the winter.

Oregon Grape Holly

Oregon grape holly (Mahonia aquifolium) grows 3 to 6 feet in height and 3 to 5 feet wide. The leaves resemble holly leaves and are grouped in 5 to 9 leathery, glossy leaves. These leaves appear reddish-bronze when they first grow then turn purplish-bronze in the winter. Flower groups of yellow blossoms appear in the early spring. Sour edible blue-black berries form in summer. The Oregon grape holly is drought resistant, but dislikes hot summers. Suckers grow from the roots and develop colonies of Oregon grape holly plants.


About the Author


Karen Carter spent three years as a technology specialist in the public school system and her writing has appeared in the "Willapa Harbor Herald" and the "Rogue College Byline." She has an Associate of Arts from Rogue Community College with a certificate in computer information systems.