The Best Evergreen Shrubs for Shade

By J.W. Carpenter , last updated September 23, 2011

Every yard has its share of shady spots, but don’t fret, lots of great evergreen shrubs are available that will perform wonderfully in shade. From the fine foliage of the Boxwood and the Firethorn to the beautiful flowers of the Burford Holly and evergreen Azalea, you’re sure to find plenty of specimens to fit your landscaping needs.


The Boxwood (genus Buxus) is a large group of shrubs and small trees widespread in gardens throughout the world. It is a relatively easy-growing, low maintenance plant. Depending on the variety, it can be used as a foundation plant, grown as a hedge, or placed in shady borders. Though Boxwoods are evergreen plants, some varieties lose color in the winter, especially when exposed to strong winter winds. For full, deep wintergreens, try the Wintergreen Littleleaf Boxwood.


The Firethorn (genus Pyracantha) is a large shrub famed for its bright red fall and winterberries. It reaches as tall as 15 feet and as wide as 10 feet, though it can be maintained in a smaller form with regular pruning. It has attractive glossy green leaves throughout the year. In spring, it produces waves of small, white flowers. Though its flowering performance, and so its berry production, is improved with full sun, it does very well in shady locations.

Burford Holly

The Burford Holly (Ilex cornuta ‘Burford') is famed for its dense, glossy, deep green foliage, perhaps the deepest green of all the garden shrubs. Though its leaves are exceptionally beautiful in their own right, the plant puts on a fine seasonal show twice each year. In spring, fragrant, showy, snow-white flower clusters emerge for several weeks. By fall, striking red fruits appear, enduring well into the winter.

Evergreen Azalea

The evergreen Azalea (Rhododendron subgenus Tsutsuji) is a fine shade-loving shrub. Most varieties feature glossy green leaves and beautiful funnel-shaped spring flowers. It is excellent for placement along a shady foundation or garden border.

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