10 Best Evergreen Shrubs for North Carolina Climate

Native evergreen shrubs are gaining popularity in North Carolina for their year-round greenery. Some of them even produce exquisite flowers and edible fruits that are attractive to the owners and local wildlife. Most shrubs are generally low-maintenance, drought-tolerant, withstand a wide range of soil types, and tolerate the North Carolina climate. Some best evergreen shrubs for North Carolina also cope well under sun and shade, making them easier to maintain. 

Suppose you are looking for native evergreen shrubs in North Carolina but you do not know where to start. In that case, you have come to the right place!

We have provided you with a fantastic list of the best evergreen shrubs for the North Carolina climate that will offer their beauty to your landscape. Let’s take a look!

Best Evergreen Shrubs For North Carolina

Nestled in the diverse landscapes of North Carolina, nature has a secret tapestry of evergreens waiting to be discovered. These aren’t just any shrubs; they’re timeless sentinels that paint the state green, rain or shine, summer or winter. From the misty Blue Ridge Mountains to the sunny Outer Banks, these steadfast plants are the unsung heroes of Carolina gardens.

Dive in as we unearth the best evergreen shrubs that not only thrive in North Carolina but also capture its enduring spirit.

1. Canada Yew (Taxus Canadensis)

Best Evergreen Shrubs For North Carolina
Canada Yew (Taxus Canadensis)

Despite being native to Canada, the native range of Canadian Yew also reaches across North America, including North Carolina. It does not produce flowers or fruits but features dark green needle-like foliage that forms spreading limbs.

They will turn reddish-brown when winter comes. Generally, people plant this native evergreen shrub as either low hedgerow or ground cover.

Since it is adaptable to Canadian winter, this versatile shrub copes well in extremely low temperatures.

Canadian Yew also belongs to shade-tolerant plants that thrive in sun exposure, partial shade, or shade locations in joining other yews. Additionally, it prefers to live away from winter sun, heat, and drought to protect soil moisture.

2. Chindo Viburnum

Best Evergreen Shrubs For North Carolina
Chindo Viburnum

A dense, dark green foliage that grows pyramidally makes Chindo Viburnum a great option to provide excellent privacy in your home.

Besides the leaves, this native evergreen shrub produces tiny fragrant white flowers that later turn into red berries as the plant age. They will change color to purplish-black when they ripen in the fall.

You will not need many requirements to grow Chindo Viburnum. It thrives in full sun and partial shade on dry to moist, well-drained soils. This hardy plant tolerates various soils and dry climates, which is perfect for a drought-tolerant landscape. Furthermore, it is best to grow in the coastal and piedmont region of North Carolina.

3. Common Juniper (Juniperus Communis)

Best Evergreen Shrubs For North Carolina
Common Juniper (Juniperus Communis)

If you are looking for a perfect privacy screening, you may want to consider planting Common Juniper. It is a large-size, lush-growing shrub that is popular among people who want to have both greenery and a great hedgerow at once!

This native plant grows up to 6-meter tall, creating the perfect security any homeowner could ask for. It has green needle-like foliage, typical to the Canadian Yew, except it produces berries rich in oil.

Moreover, it loves being soaked up in the full sun rather than shade, unlike the previous species. It also performs best on various soil types, including dry, rocky, or sandy soils, making the evergreen shrub easy to handle.

Since Common Juniper loves dry moisture, it does not require much watering. In other words, this evergreen shrub is very adaptable to extreme climates, making it an easy plant to care for.

4. Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal Minor)

Best Evergreen Shrubs For North Carolina
Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal Minor)

Belonging to the small palm species, Sabal minor is more popular in its common name, Dwarf Palmetto. It displays fan-shaped leaves that grow beautifully upwards, sparking the tropical season once it is planted in your outdoor space. Thanks to this unique feature, this small shrub is often grown as an accent tree or shrub.

Furthermore, this evergreen shrub is pretty drought tolerant as it stands well in poor drainage conditions. However, provide the plant with a proper amount of water during establishment. It is also considered the most cold-tolerant Sabal.

Therefore, Sabal minor may be adaptable to the winter temperature. Though it favors shady areas, it can grow under sunlight exposure.

5. Inkberry (Ilex Glabra)

Best Evergreen Shrubs For North Carolina
Inkberry (Ilex Glabra)

Ilex glabra or Inkberry is also one of the evergreen shrubs native to North Carolina that produces blackberry fruits, attracting birds to feed on them. It usually grows to up to medium-size, very rarely grows large.

Unlike other hollies, this colony-forming shrub only has dark green foliage with teeth on the tips that are thick enough to hide the fruits. 

If you grow Inkberry for the berries, plant male and female plants of the same species side by side to have the same blooming season. This shade lover’s plant loves water and humid soil; thus, performing regular watering is a must.

In addition, it is a cold-tolerant plant that can thrive in a cold climate. Nevertheless, it is toxic to humans and animals. Hence, planting them away from children and pets is necessary to avoid any harm.

6. Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne Calyculata)

best evergreen shrubs for north carolina
Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne Calyculata)

As a winter hardy plant, Leatherleaf is well-known as a wintergreen dwarf shrub. It grows dense in purplish leaves and white bell-shaped flowers, creating a magical winter view in your garden.

The flowers stunningly hang on the stalk with a couple of green leaves that decorate the native shrub. In addition, it is a small, dense evergreen shrub that will make an ideal low-hedge or mixed borders.

Even though it is not as easy as other mentioned species to grow, this short-lived shrub includes in a pest-free category that will not bother you with complicated treatments and maintenance. And like Inkberry, Leatherleaf needs high water requirements as it loves fine, wet peats and acidic soil, only that this small shrub thrives best in the sun rather than shade.

7. Loblolly Bay (Gordonia Lasianthus)

best evergreen shrubs for north carolina
Loblolly Bay (Gordonia Lasianthus)

Another white flower-producing native shrub with a long-blooming period will be eager to showcase its beauty from May to November, adorned with attractive deep green foliage. Instead of opening all at once, these fragrant flowers tend to open individually.

The size of the native plant highly depends on the soil moisture, ranging from 30-80 feet tall.

As it grows naturally in wetlands, Loblolly Bay needs frequent watering since it performs best in moist, fertile, acid soils. However, it withstands dry, sandy soils where it can grow large, but not drought. Moreover, it thrives under sun exposure and partial shade, allowing you to have a wider choice of planting areas.

8. Mountain Laurel (Kalmia Latifolia)

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia Latifolia)
Mountain Laurel (Kalmia Latifolia)

The white flowers with a touch of pink shade are the signature of Kalmia latifolia or Mountain Laurel. They perfectly decorate the plant with an exquisite blend of colors that will captivate you from late spring to early summer.

Not only the blooms, but the glossy, leather, dark green foliage is another attraction this shrub has. Moreover, the low maintenance quality makes it easy for you to take care of Mountain Laurel.

Speaking about its growing requirements, it only needs a low-watering requirement; thus, it is easy to care for, especially if you are away. You just have to make sure that it grows in a spot with partial shade and has moist, rocky, or sandy soils.

Considering it is a highly toxic plant, planting it out of reach of humans and animals is highly recommended.

9. Great Laurel (Rhododendron Maximum)

Great Laurel (Rhododendron Maximum)
Great Laurel (Rhododendron Maximum)

Species rhododendrons are well-known for their colorful blooms, ranging from pink white to light blue flowers, even a beautiful mix of two shades. One species that produces a mixed color of fragrant flowers is Rhodendron maximum or Great Laurel.

The mixture of white with light pink flowers edges makes it look uniquely beautiful. 

Unfortunately, all parts of this native evergreen shrub in North Carolina are poisonous to both animals and humans and are very dangerous if ingested. However, if you still want to try keeping it, make sure it is planted out of reach of children and pets.

This native, deer-resistant shrub requires a part shade area, cool, moist, and well-drained soil to thrive.

10. Wax Myrtle (Myrica Cerifera)

Wax Myrtle (Myrica Cerifera)
Wax Myrtle (Myrica Cerifera or Morella Cerifera)

Morella cerifera or Wax Myrtle belongs to both native evergreen shrubs and trees that can grow up to 20 feet tall. It features olive green leaves that have spicy aromatic scents when crushed.

Besides, the female plants also produce pale blueberries whose wax is commonly used to produce scented candles. This native plant is also grown for screens, landscaping, and as a source of honey.

With all those mentioned characteristics, no wonder that many are interested in planting Wax Myrtle. If you are also willing to grow this water-loving shrub, make sure the soil is moist by regularly watering it.

However, it is a reliable drought and flood-tolerant once established. To produce berries, close to the planting site for male and female plants to obtain proper pollination.

Final Thoughts

In the heart of North Carolina, evergreen shrubs stand as nature’s testament to endurance and beauty. These resilient plants, with their year-round allure, mirror the steadfast spirit of the Tar Heel State. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a budding enthusiast, embracing these evergreens is like holding a piece of Carolina’s soul.

So, as seasons change and years roll by, let these shrubs be your garden’s timeless anchor. Ready to make your North Carolina garden evergreen? Dive in and choose your favorites.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the fastest-growing evergreen shrub or tree to grow in North Carolina?

Arborvitaes are among the fastest-growing evergreen shrubs or trees to grow in North Carolina that will provide you with year-round everlasting greenery. There are two popular cultivars that are commonly grown in the state as landscaping plants, hedgerows, or privacy screenings, such as Emerald Arborvitae and Green Giant Arborvitae.

Besides arborvitaes, Spartan Juniper is another option to create a lush privacy screen since it grows dense pretty quickly.

Why choose evergreen shrubs for my North Carolina garden?

Evergreens are nature’s perennial masterpieces. They offer year-round color, acting as a constant in changing seasons. Besides aesthetics, they provide habitats for wildlife and reduce soil erosion. Plus, they’re typically low-maintenance, a bonus for busy gardeners.

How do evergreens fare in North Carolina’s winters?

Evergreen shrubs are winter warriors. Their leaves are designed to withstand colder temperatures. Especially in North Carolina, where winters can vary, evergreens stand tall and unyielding, offering a splash of green amidst the cold.

Can evergreen shrubs be grown in pots?

Certainly! Many evergreen shrubs adapt well to container gardening. Just ensure proper drainage and choose a spacious pot. This way, even those with limited space can enjoy North Carolina’s green wonders.

What is a bush that stays green all year in North Carolina?

All shrubs from our amazing list of the best evergreen shrubs for North Carolina stay green all year. You can choose from flowering shrubs, fruiting shrubs, or shrubs with dense foliage.

If you wish to have flowering and fruiting shrubs, you can try planting Chindo Viburnum (Viburnum awabuki ‘Chindo’), Inkberry (Ilex glabra), Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata (L.) Moench), Loblolly Bay (Gordonia lasianthus), Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), Great Laurel (Rhododendron maximum), and Wax Myrtle (Morella cerifera).

Nonetheless, if you simply enjoy the greenery, you can choose Canada Yew (Taxus canadensis), Common Juniper (Juniperus communis var. depressa), or Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal minor).

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