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Broadleaf Evergreens for Fragrance and Shade

Posted: August 12, 2015

Foliage in our gardens is utilitarian and provides a backdrop for summer plantings while providing good cover for nesting birds. Broadleaf evergreens come in a variety of sizes and forms and they add color and structure to winter landscapes.
Leatherleaf Mahonia in fruit

Leatherleaf Mahonia in fruit

Broadleaf evergreens have a variety of leaf forms, patterns and colors, and they produce attractive, often fragrant flowers, and showy fruit. Listed below are four suggestions for you to consider for a shady spot in your landscape.

One whiff of the tubular flowers of Daphne x transatlantica 'Blafra' and you will be hooked. It blooms in spring and again in late summer. Most shrubs only bloom once, so you are getting more for your money. Its foliage is green, oval and 1” to 2” long. Give some thought into siting this shrub since it does not like to be disturbed once it starts growing. It is best grown in part shade or full sun with shelter from hot, summer afternoon sun. Hardy to zone 6.

Mahonia bealei, the leatherleaf mahonia will surprise you with its large stiff blue-green foliage. This shrub grows to 8’, but is easily trimmed to any size you desire. In late March or April, plants produce fragrant yellow flowers followed by glaucous blue grape-like fruit. It is best grown in part shade, and makes a good barrier plant. Growing two plants produces a good fruit display (fruit is not edible). Hardy to zone 6.

Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis, sweetbox, is a low growing shrub (4 to 6') having lustrous dark green foliage that grows well in full to part shade. Early white flowers permeate the air with a sweet, delicate fragrance, so make sure you site this shrub where you will pass by it in late winter. It has no insect or disease problems. This shrub fills in nicely and is relatively low-maintenance. Hardy to zone 6.

Pieris japonica, Japanese pieris, is an upright shrub with rosette-like foliage. It is a slow growing shrub which can reach 8’ if not pruned. Fragrant white panicles of flowers resembling lily-of-the-valley are borne in spring. Some cultivars have eye-catching fire red new foliage. Plants prefer part shade, and are more susceptible to lace bug damage when grown in full sun. Hardy to zone 4.

~ by Marietta Garr

Contact Information

Marietta Garr
Master Gardener - Luzerne County
LuzerneExt@psu.edu