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favorite small evergreen shrub for the South?

Posted by brandyray Coastal NC/8a (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 20, 08 at 3:49

Hi, everybody;
I have several curly leaf ligustrum at the front of my deciduous shrub border and I have realized they they are the wrong shape for that location. What I need are some rounded shrubs about 4 ft tall. The shrubs in back are burning bush and forsythia. I want something that is green in the winter when the others are bare. Something w/ berries in fall/winter would be great, but it needs to do well in sand and heat. Thanks! Brandy


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RE: favorite small evergreen shrub for the South?

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 20, 08 at 14:57

In addition to having a compatible arching growth habit glossy abelia has a winter leaf color that contrasts nicely with forsythia in flower. If these are comparatively dumpy, graceless dwarf forsythias there are also dwarf abelias you can combine with these. And you said you wanted low anyway.

Fall color of burning bush is pleasing with bluish shrubs, such as dwarf spruces or junipers of that color. Maybe there is a kind on the market there that grows under conditions of your region. 'Blue Star' juniper is common here but seems a bit prone to blighting where water is being splashed around, so maybe it is not suitable there.

If you haven't been to the Raulston Arboretum probably you could get some ideas there.

Here is a link that might be useful: JCRaulston Arboretum at NC State University


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RE: favorite small evergreen shrub for the South?

There is an abelia cultivar, 'Kaleidoscope', that is pretty much multi-colored, or 'Silver Anniversary' that is white and green - I assume the flowers are the usual white, not having seen them for either. To my knowledge, it stays small, but having only seen plants in the nurseries, I am not sure of the height, but I think about 3'. No berries, but the leaves' color might make up for that.

Indian Hawthorn stays evergreen, fall/winter to late spring flowers in pink or white. Bluish fruits/berries aren't anything special, though.

There are dwarf Yaupon hollies - they should stay small and have berries. 'Nana' is not known for berries, but some of the others are - you would have to have a male, but it doesn't HAVE to be in that bed, just nearby. While not evergreen, the cultivar 'Red Sprite' of I. verticillalta grows to 3-5', and is noted for its long-lasting berries - again, you would need a male around.

I saw a new, very dark purple-leaved Loropetalum at a Spartanburg nursery last week with red flowers - it is supposed to stay smaller and more compact than the usual cultivar. I'm sorry, but I don't remember the name, just that it was very newly introduced.

How about rosemary? You would have to chose one of the taller varieties, and might have to keep it trimmed to keep it to size, once it grew, but the trimmings are good for cooking, and the blue flowers are in winter-to-spring, so would offset the lack of berries. Sand is ideal for them, as good drainage is essential.


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RE: favorite small evergreen shrub for the South?

can't say it is my favorite but pieris philyrefolia is an uncommon, small evergreen. they list it as native to the coastal plain of south carolina and other states in our region. i bought one from a nursery near montgomery, al. but lost it two years ago (assume) from drought stress in its woodland site.
the nursery has a limited listing of their large selection of plants at their website and may do mailorder.
name is "petals from the past" and the pieris they sell likely originates from the nursery at the link below, if you want to read about it.
just something different for you to consider.

Here is a link that might be useful: dodd natives


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RE: favorite small evergreen shrub for the South?

I appreciate the great feedback. The rosemary is really an unusual idea and I have one and love it. So, I might just go for that. (Thank you, dibbit, because I wouldn't have thought of it.) I don't have any lorapetalum or abelia, no pieris either, so I guess I will look at the local nurseries next month. I have seen the purple leaf lorapetalum and it was quite attractive.
I bought two baby (really tiny) chamecyparis obtusa 'Golden Drop' today and they are supposed to mature at 4 ft x 6 ft. I am going to stick them in bigger pots (they are less than 6 inches tall!) and see how they do. I thought if they did well, I might get some more and use them.
I really like the rosemary idea- and I love that herb; it is extremely hardy here.
As for you, Jeff- naughty, naughty- giving me a new plant website AND one I can't order from! The St. John's wort is a possibility, too- I have seen that and wanted it. That might look nice alternated w/ the rosemary...
I enjoyed looking at the Arboretum website- nice pics, bboy.
Thanks to all of you, Brandy


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RE: favorite small evergreen shrub for the South?

I garden on clay, not sand, but one of my favorite evergreen shrubs is Shishigashira Sansanqua Camellia. It is a beautiful, low growing, mounding, glossy leaved shrub with the added bonus of fall and early winter blooms. It takes full sun in my area.
If you choose a purple Loropetalum, I would recommend Black Diamond. It is supposed to top out at four feet, (I haven't had mine long enough to vouch for that.) but its best feature, in my opinion, is that it keeps its purple color all season better than any of the several other varieties I have grown. The new Purple Pixie is even smaller.
Holly leaved osmanthus are beautiful low growing evergreens too. I have Goshiki, which is green, yellow, pink, and cream all at once, and truly stunning. And, I have Variegatus, which is my favorite. It has beautiful creamy white margins on all the green leaves and is a very shapely shrub. The variegatus is fairly new to me, but I've had Goshiki several years now. I started it in a shady border and finally moved it to sun when the color kept fading. Sure enough, it perked right up.
No one mentioned Nandina. I know they are common, but I personally adore them. The lacy textured evergreen foliage with the bonus of berries is hard to beat, and they're tough as nails to boot. These days, you can get them in almost any size you want.


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RE: favorite small evergreen shrub for the South?

If choosing nandina for the southeastern area of the US, one should choose the ones without berries (because the birds eat the berries and spread them to natural areas). The following cultivars are sterile: Compacta (Nana), 'Gulf Stream' are two of them. If you read the tag at the nursery, there should be some indication of whether it produces fruit.


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RE: favorite small evergreen shrub for the South?

Indian Hawthorne 'Bay Breeze' is low and has nice pink flowers, with reddish foliage. Beautiful!


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RE: favorite small evergreen shrub for the South?

I vote for Kleim's Hardey gardenia. Atractive foliage, fragrant flowers easy care and it's the size you mentioned


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RE: favorite small evergreen shrub for the South?

Camellias are a great idea! One of my favorites. I have 2 Kleim's gardenias, and they are really hardy. Mine are very small though, not more than a foot. How big do they get? Never have been really attracted to nandina, but I appreciate the suggestion of the lorapetalum and the osmanthus (the latter I am not familiar w/- will have to look it up).
I might be tempted to put gardenias in front of the camellias. I have seen quite a few camellias right out in the sun here but they are supposed to like shade. Thanks for all the great suggestions. I need to do a lot of research, now. Brandy


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RE: favorite small evergreen shrub for the South?

Carrissa Holly is nice.


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