Suggest a shrub for 18 inch high hedge, no pruning, in shade?

prairiemoon2 z6 MAOctober 12, 2008

I have the thought to use a small shrub, like boxwood, that will not need pruning and will stay only 12-18" high and about 18-24" wide, and will grow in mostly shade. I haven't seen a boxwood that will fit the bill. I can't think of anything else. I just want to delineate a lot line but not create more work for myself with trimming a line of shrubs. It would only be about a 15ft line of them.

Thanks for any ideas or input.



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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

That's a tough one based on the size requirements. What about Skimmia japonica? It's slightly larger than you are looking for, but could be an interesting choice for the shade.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 8:03PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

'Firepower' nandina might do, if hardy.

My sister, in WA, used green and grey santolina as a knot garden hedge in part shade - is it hardy for you? It might need sun too much.

The more dwarf conifers might work, but might also be prohibitively expensive, plus they usually like sun. Your need for shade does make it hard. Would the smaller azaleas work for you? You might have to prune some.

Can you accept a taller height, say under 3'? That would allow for more suggestions. It might be harder to find, but Ceanothus americanus, the New Jersey tea, grows to 3', with white flowers. Rhus aromatica, fragrant sumac, another native, might do if findable - it grows to 3'.

I happen to dislike it, but even so, there are non-invasive barberries (I think) that stay small. The red- or yellow-twig dogwoods would need to be cut to the ground annually, but might work.

Ilex crenata, Japanese holly, has smaller cultivars that might be hardy for you. It will grow in light shade, I am not sure about heavy shade.

You might do better with hostas and ferns, accepting that there would be little delineation in winter, although that depends on how much snow you usually get, since any depth would cover over a foot anyway.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 9:21PM
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Ilex crenata'Helleri'and/or Dwarf Gumpo Azaleas should stay under 18" without any pruning. Not sure about the shade.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 2:39AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA are right, I guess that is why I was having a hard time coming up with I was just looking at Skimmia the other day and trying to figure a place to add one, but this particular location it would not work. They are a very pretty shrub in the shade.

dibbit...Nandina is probably not hardy here in z6a. I never see it for sale in a local nursery. The shade would probably be too much for the conifers, having already tried to find a conifer for another location that would grow in shade, it is not easy.

Small azaleas is an idea I had not thought of. They grow nice and slow too and if there was enough light, they might even bloom which is a nice plus.

Are there 'non invasive barberries'? I happen to like barberries but have stayed away from them thinking they were all on the invasive list. I especially like the yellow ones.

Ilex crenata ...I hadn't remembered those. I just found a webpage of cultivars that are minature and dwarf, and if I can find a few of those, they could work and would be evergreen.

I am not quite sure how much sun/light they will get, they will be near the drip line of a Maple tree, on it's East side. I will have to observe it next spring as doing so now would not be of much value, since the light is so different this time of year. I know at one time we had a Father Hugo rose growing there that did develop some bloom, so maybe there would be enough light for the azaleas to bloom.

Yes, Hostas would be a last resort choice for me. This location is in the front of the house, so having something neat and evergreen would fit the bill much better.

Great ideas...thank you very much for the help!

Here is a link that might be useful: Cultivars of Ilex crenata

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 6:51AM
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most sources give zone 6b as the northern limits of hardiness for sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis but this oregon state plant site says zone 5.

Here is a link that might be useful: sarcocca info

    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 10:40AM
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waplummer(Z5 NY)

What's with the no pruning bit. There are a number of rhododendrons, mountain laurel, Japanese holly, Pieris floribunda, Leucothea which could be used and need only be pruned once a year to keep to your required height. I have Japanese holly that I have grown for more than forty years and maintain a a 2 1/2 - 3 ft height with a spring pruning.Plants like to grow and dwarf evergreens are espensive because they grow slowly, but grow they will.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 10:38PM
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I use hellebores as a sub for evergreen low shrub lines. If you get your soil to where they like it they reseed vigorously to let you continue to fill them in.

The dwarf rhodo I love the best is Purple Gem - I'm crazy about it and you won't have to prune it. The leaves are evergreen and tiny like Rhodo PJM.

Korean Boxwood has very tiny leaves and I have a zone 5 hedge of it that has remained at 15-18" with touchup pruning for yrs. That would be much more tidy and English-garden looking than the hellebores - depends on the look you want. Buxus Vardar Valley is supposed to go to 2' but the leaves are larger, more widely spaced and the shrub is looser than the Korean.

The herb garden at a local botanical garden uses plants with colored foliage like lavender, lambs ears, whatever and keeps them pruned as a hedge - don't let them bloom. If you have enough light, a hedge of coleus might work.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 9:22PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Jeff...thanks for that info on sarcocca. I didn't really want something that was stoliniferous for that area but I do have another location that I would love to try that. Great if it would be hardy for me.

Walplummer....I actually love to prune, but I am just not able to do a lot of it any more and no one else in the house is that interested, so I try to plant with that in mind.

Alyrics....I actually just bought a Purple Gem for another location and I really like them. That is the perfect size. I had thought there wasn't enough sun for it there, but I suppose if I use it without the expectation of bloom, then it would make a similar to boxwood looking shrub. Thanks for the name of the Buxus Vardar Valley, too.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 6:59PM
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I still say a hedge of hellebores - and what a gorgeous sight with the out of season bloom. The only clean up is mid-spring cutting of last yrs dying foliage. My hellebores are easily 15" tall.

I have a potted R. Purple Gem that is just in open high shade - it might get an hour of direct sun but not more. It's covered in blooms in spring. A larger cultivar with medium sized leaves is Christmas Cheer - I have that blooming heavily in dark shade on the north side of the house. Once they're established they do fine with once a yr application of Hollytone.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 8:39PM
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chrmann(z7 AL)

What about the:
Buxus microphylla japonica
( Kingsville Dwarf Littleleaf Boxwood )
Height: 1.0 ft. to 1.5 ft.
Width: 2 ft. to 2.5 ft.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 1:09PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Sorry to take so long to get back to this thread...

alyrics, the hellebore hedge does sound intriquing. I can only imagine them in bloom. I only have two mature hellebores and they really have been carefree. I just moved one to an area close to my back door and even out of bloom, I am enjoying it much more up close. That does sound like a good option. Thanks for the encouragement about Purple Gem. I have more possible locations for that if that is the case. You don't happen to have any photos, do you?

chrmann...thanks for another great boxwood suggestion. That sounds like the perfect size. I saw a gardening program that suggested a 'Tide Hill' boxwood for 18" high, but it also got 5ft


    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 4:30AM
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Here's a link that shows the same color as my Purple Gem, but they must have this in full sun because mine is a little more loose and taller.

There are a couple good websites to look at hellebores but
Barry Glick is one breeder at Sunshine Farms - gorgeous pictures of woods full of hellebores. I think its Pine Knot Farms(?) that is another big breeder. If you check Garden Watchdog you can find sources. This would be a good time to hit sales and put plants in. Depending on location, and, I believe pH, moisture, etc you can get tons of sprouting seedlings. I have 4 yo clumps of hellebores that are 2ft across. If I wanted a straight line I would probably use edging or some kind of stone as a border

Thanks for the suggestion of the other dwarf box.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 12:11AM
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Checkmate is a variety of PJM rhododendron that stays small, not 18", but mine hasn't exceeded 30 inches. It has quite dark foliage at this time of year and a bit darker than normal PJMs in warmer weather. Mine is in a semi-shaded location (only a few hours of morning sun, then shade the rest of the day) and blooms well.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 9:22AM
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