9 Best Evergreens for Shade to Elevate Your Gardens

best evergreens for shade

When choosing the right evergreens for shade, it’s not just about aesthetics; it’s about creating a vibrant, year-round oasis in your shaded areas. The best evergreens provide lush greenery, offer privacy, reduce noise, and serve as a backdrop for other plants.

In this guide, we’ll explore why selecting the best evergreens for shade is essential for a thriving and picturesque landscape.

Best Evergreens for Shade

1. Boxwood

shade evergreen shrubs

Boxwood (Buxus spp.) is one of the most popular and versatile garden shrubs, providing year-round structure and color in the landscape. Boxwood shrubs are adaptable to different soil types as long as there is good drainage. Mulch with a layer of shredded bark to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and keep the root zone cool.

When planting boxwoods, choose a wind-sheltered site with partial or dappled shade that receives at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight, with protection from hot afternoon sun. It was used for fevers, as a tonic for stomachs, as an antiperiodic, and as a stimulant.

It is also said that the Native Americans used Boxwood as they used ‘Peruvian bark’. Various extracts and perfumes were formerly made from the leaves and bark, and the leaves also had a medicinal purpose.

2. American Holly

evergreens for shade

The American holly is an evergreen tree native to the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Female plants grow bright red berries on their branches. The bark is smooth and a light white-grey color. Its spine-tipped leaves are green and leathery in texture. Holly trees are very slow-growing.

It grows best on well-drained, sandy soils but will tolerate those which are somewhat poorly drained. This small tree has good shade tolerance but does well in direct sun. Although this species is often found growing on coastal sand dunes, it is not very salt spray tolerant. American holly wood has been used to make furniture, canes, and scrollwork.

Holly wood is ideal for taking dyes, and is used for much of the black and white inlaid lines in musical instruments and furniture. American holly fruit tea was used as a heart stimulant by American Indians. Holly is also used for cough, fever, digestive disorders, heart disease, and other conditions.

3. Deodar Cedar

shade tolerant evergreen shrubs

The Deodar Tree is an evergreen coniferous tree with needle-like leaves and distinctive cone-shaped clusters. Its towering stature provides a majestic canopy, and the tree’s branches extend gracefully, contributing to its overall regal appearance.

Deodar cedar trees are best propagated from seed and need plenty of space, a sunny spot, and slightly acidic, well-drained soil. The tree needs all that space because of its beautiful weeping branches, which will grow and spread. Avoid planting this tree in areas that get a lot of wind.

Deodar is in great demand as building material because of its durability, rot-resistant character and fine, close grain, which is capable of taking a high polish.

Ayurveda, whole plants are used in belching inflammation, dyspepsia, insomnia, cough and cold, fever, urinary discharges, bronchitis, itching, elephantiasis, tuberculosis glands, leucoderma, piles, ophthalmia, mind disorder, skin diseases and diseases of blood.

4. Colorado Blue Spruce

shade loving evergreens

The spruce (Picea) is an evergreen with short, blue-green, waxy leaves called needles. The waxy coating on the needles helps evergreen trees conserve water during the very cold winters when soil water is frozen and not available for the trees to use.

Colorado blue spruce needs regular watering when first planted, 2 inches of garden mulch around the base of the tree to help it retain moisture, enrichment with compost once a year, and six hours of sunlight daily.

The Colorado blue spruce is most commonly used for windbreaks throughout the country. The thickness of the trees reduces wind velocities and can greatly reduce soil erosion. Infusion of the needles in a warm bath is said to relieve the symptoms of rheumatism.

5. Giant Arborvitae

evergreens that grow in shade

The green giant arborvitae is a large, vigorous, fast-growing evergreen. Its natural pyramidal to conical form boasts dense, rich green foliage that darkens or bronzes slightly in the winter. This is an exceptional landscape tree for a screen, hedge, or single specimen.

Green Giant performs best on moist, fertile, well-drained, loamy soils in full sun to partial shade. It will not survive on varieties of wet sites, poorly drained soils, or ones that stay soggy, and it doesn’t like highly compacted soils. It is used as lumber, especially for poles, posts, and cross-ties.

It’s also an effective cleaner for both the skin and household surfaces. Provides relief from the symptoms of mild arthritis/osteoarthritis, mild joint pain, soreness, and stiffness.

6. Hemlock

evergreen plants for shade

Eastern hemlock is a graceful native evergreen tree. This conifer is unusual in that the terminal leader often droops instead of giving the tree a typical pointed top like most pine family trees.

Hemlocks prefer slightly acidic, well drained, but evenly moist soil. Hemlocks respond well to a low dose fertilizer. Location – Hemlocks prefer partial sun, but tolerate full sun to full shade. Hemlock is used for bronchitis, whooping cough, asthma, arthritis, and other conditions.

7. Azalea

shade evergreens

Most azaleas are deciduous, although most types used in the home landscape are evergreen. Evergreen azaleas require partial shade and acidic soil. Enrich the soil in your chosen grow space with potting mix, peat moss, and organic matter compost, or use a fertilizer that adjusts the soil pH level to their preference.

Make sure the area does not receive full sun. Large azaleas are useful as background for lower plantings while low-growing ones are useful as foreground plantings. Azaleas have also been used in traditional medicine, as the Chinese Azalea flowers are considered analgesic, anesthetic, and sedative and are used for topical application.

8. Camellia

full shade evergreen shrubs

Camellias are evergreen shrubs that come in a range of sizes. Winter Camellias prefer filtered sunlight or protection from hot morning or afternoon sun, though mature plants may be tolerant of more sun.

Camellias are best grown in areas with some shelter or protection from cold, drying winds to keep their vulnerable buds from being damaged during extreme Winter weather. Camellia sinensis is a species of evergreen shrub or small tree in the flowering plant family Theaceae. Its leaves, leaf buds, and stems can be used to produce tea.

Camellias are popular ornamental, tea, and woody-oil plants that have been cultivated throughout the world for centuries. Contains caffeine and antioxidant polyphenols. It has been touted as being useful in a wide variety of conditions, including cancer prevention, mostly on relatively slim epidemiological evidence, cardiovascular disorders, and AIDS.

9. Daphne

evergreen shade shrubs

Daphnes are shrubs with highly fragrant flowers. They bloom at various times of the year, depending on the species. Most are evergreen, keeping their leaves all year, or semi-evergreen, losing some of them over winter, especially in cold locations.

Choose a part shade location with well-draining soil. The best planting site receives four to six hours of bright sunlight in the morning and shade in the afternoon. Winter daphne grows 3 to 4 feet tall and wide, so give it plenty of space to expand. They need full sun to light shade that has protection from hot afternoon sun.

Daphne hates disturbing its roots, so choose your spot carefully when planting. It is a slow-growing plant noted for its scented flowers and often brightly colored berries. Many species are grown in gardens as ornamental plants; the smaller species are often used in rock gardens. It treats backache, myalgia, skin diseases, and poor vision.


Choosing the best evergreens for shade is crucial for creating a resilient and visually appealing landscape. These evergreens not only provide year-round greenery but also shade, which helps regulate temperature, reduce energy costs, and create comfortable outdoor spaces. Additionally, they serve as privacy screens and noise barriers, enhancing the overall ambiance of your property.

In conclusion, creating a lush shade garden with hardy evergreens is a rewarding endeavor. Opt for shade-tolerant, hardy, evergreen varieties with dark green needles or leaves to ensure your garden thrives even in deep shade.

Whether you’re working with full shade or just a few plants in garden beds, these evergreens can adapt to a wide range of hardiness zones. For added color, consider species with pink flowers. Embrace these suggestions to enrich your shade gardens with vibrant, year-round greenery.

Johan Perez
Johan Perez is an experienced agriculturalist with over twenty years in the field. He holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences and has contributed extensively to research on sustainable farming practices. Johan has also written for numerous agricultural periodicals, offering expert advice on farming technologies and methods. In his free time, he enjoys outdoor adventures, which often inform his professional insights into ecological agriculture.

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