Identification of evergreen bush types

Updated February 21, 2017

Evergreen shrubs come in two general forms: narrow-leaf and broadleaved. The narrow-leaved forms are conifers, and many are extremely hardy. Broadleaved evergreen shrubs are a more diverse group that includes tropical foliage and flowering shrubs for northern woodlands.

Conifer Shrubs

Conifer shrubs have narrow, long leaves referred to as needles. Mugo pine has long, sharp needles. Juniper has articulated blue-green leaves that are rough. Juniper bushes often spread wider than they stand and produce bluish berries. Arbor vitae have smooth, flat articulated needles and grow as compact globe or oval-shaped shrubs. Yews have short, soft needles and are easy to shear into formal shapes.

Broadleaved Shrubs

Boxwood, tropical ficus and their semi-evergreen cousin privet each have small, deep green leaves and shear easily for hedges. Mahonia and hollies have glossy, often sharply pointed leaves. Winter creeper is a fast-growing ground cover with dark leaves.

Flowering Broadleaf Shrubs

Rhododendron and mountain laurel bear red and purple flowers in spring and early summer and are hardy flowering evergreens. Camellias bear white blooms in late winter to early spring and are hardy only to USDA zone 6. All have thick, waxy leaves. Bergenia and periwinkle are ground-hugging, spreading, spring-blooming evergreens.

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About the Author

An avid perennial gardener and old house owner, Laura Reynolds has had careers in teaching and juvenile justice. A retired municipal judgem Reynolds holds a degree in communications from Northern Illinois University. Her six children and stepchildren served as subjects of editorials during her tenure as a local newspaper editor.