8 Best Small Evergreen Shrubs

Euonymus Emerald Gaiety

 

Gratysanna / Getty Images

When you think of small evergreen shrubs, do you picture uninteresting lumps of green dotting a landscape? Well, there are many compact bushes out there that are quite colorful characters. Here are eight small evergreen shrubs that can liven up any garden.

  • 01 of 08

    Winter Heath (Erica carnea)

    Winter heath shrubs in bloom

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    Many first-time growers of this small evergreen shrub quickly become impressed with its prodigious blooming period. Winter heath lives up to its name by putting out flowers in the most unlikely of seasons: wintertime. And if the climate and conditions are right, it might end up flowering for about half the year. The shrub grows to around a foot in height and spread, and it works well in rock gardens and on slopes.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 7
    • Color Varieties: Pink or purple blooms
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Sandy, loamy, acidic, medium moisture, well-draining
  • 02 of 08

    Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia 'Minuet')

    mountain laurel maroon and white flowers

    David Beaulieu

    Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia 'Minuet') is a broadleaf evergreen that you might be familiar with if you've walked through New England woods in June. In fact, it is the state flower of Connecticut. The laurel bushes you find in the forest can become quite large, but the 'Minuet' cultivar—true to its name—is a dwarf, growing only around 2 to 3 feet in height and spread. Plus, this compact bush offers another advantage over its wild relatives: Its flowers are more colorful.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White with a purplish-red band
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, humusy, acidic, moist, well-draining
  • 03 of 08

    Blue Star Juniper (Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star')

    Blue star juniper in red mulch

    David Beaulieu

    Blue star juniper (Juniperus Squamata 'Blue Star') is strictly a foliage plant. If you like the look of blue spruce trees but lack the room for something so big, consider scaling down and growing blue star juniper. This plant grows to roughly 1 to 3 feet tall with a 1- to 4-foot spread. With its short blue-green needles, blue star juniper looks especially nice planted next to shrubs with golden foliage. The plants also can be massed to form a ground cover.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Blue-green foliage
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
  • 04 of 08

    'Emerald 'n' Gold' (Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald 'n' Gold')

    euonymous 'emerald and gold' shrub cultivar

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    Euonymus is a genus that includes evergreen shrubs exhibiting some sort of variegation in their leaves. The 'Emerald 'n' Gold' cultivar explains the look of its bicolored leaves with its name. Its foliage is emerald at the center and gold at the margin. 'Emerald 'n' Gold' grows only to around 2 feet tall with a 2- to 4-foot spread.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Green and gold foliage, greenish-white flowers
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    'Emerald Gaiety' (Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald Gaiety')

    Euonymus Emerald Gaiety

     

    Gratysanna / Getty Images

    Another bicolored euonymus, 'Emerald Gaiety' offers a different color combination from 'Emerald 'n' Gold.' Its leaves are green and white instead of green and gold. The white in the leaves gives this small evergreen shrub an overall bright appearance, which might account for its cheerful name. It grows roughly 3 to 5 feet in height and spread.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Green and white foliage, greenish-white flowers
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
  • 06 of 08

    'Moonshadow' (Euonymus fortunei 'Moonshadow')

    Moonshadow euonymus
    David Beaulieu

    The 'Moonshadow' euonymus also has a green-and-gold pattern of variegation. But its colors are the opposite of 'Emerald 'n' Gold' with green at the margins and gold at the centers. On some of the leaves, you might see the gold color replaced by an off-white, which happens as the growing season wears on. 'Moonshadow' grows densely to about 3 feet tall with a similar spread, and it only requires a little pruning to keep the bush compact.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Green and gold foliage, greenish-white flowers
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
  • 07 of 08

    Dwarf English Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa')

    Boxwood shrubs formed into hedges

    Abigail Rex/Getty Images

    Dwarf English boxwood (Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa') is not as colorful as some other small evergreen shrubs, but its classic green foliage is attractive in its own right. It also makes a good foreground or background for other plants. The plant grows slowly to roughly 2 to 3 feet tall with a slightly wider spread. It works well as a border or even in a container.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Medium green foliage
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Evenly moist, well-draining
  • 08 of 08

    Adam's Needle (Yucca filamentosa)

    Yucca filamentosa

     

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    When several plants are massed together, yuccas can form an impressive display during their blooming period. Adam's Needle (Yucca filamentosa) grows only a few feet tall, though it shoots up a flower stalk in late spring that reaches around 6 feet. The plant is useful for a dry area of the garden where other plants might not grow. Moreover, the varieties with golden foliage, such as 'Garland’s Gold' and 'Golden Sword,' are a good choice if you want something other than green.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Green foliage, white flowers
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Light, dry to medium moisture, well-draining