The 6 Best Small Growing Evergreen Shrubs

Published on April 19th 2020
A close up of a hebe plant
Small growing evergreen plants are a must for all gardens - no matter what size the garden is. Many are perfect subjects to grow in large containers and so are especially suited to those who have a balcony as a garden.
There are many to choose from, but I've highlighted 6 of the very best here.
If you're looking for fast-growing or flowering evergreen shrubs, check out my other articles highlighting some of my favourites:


A pink cistus flower with green leaves
_Cistus purpureus_
Cistus are also known as sun or rock roses.
With a name like that you won't be surprised to hear that they do best when planted in full sun.
There are many varieties of sun roses, and summer flower colours vary from white through soft pink to purple.
White flowers of Cistus corbariensis
White flowers of _Cistus corbariensis_
Cistus are small growing evergreen shrubs that need good drainage to thrive and also relish poor soils.
They grow quickly with a neat tidy growth habit but eventually, they can get woody.
Although they don't react well to pruning, when a plant gets old and woody, it is easy to root a shoot tip and start the plant off again.
Leaves are often hairy and packed with scented oils. This reduces water loss and so Cistus will withstand summer droughts well.
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A close up of a daphne flower
_Daphne odora_ 'Aureovariegata'
Most daphnes have sweet, strongly scented flowers that bloom in winter or early spring.
Often tricky to establish and sometimes short-lived, Daphne are still very much prized and sought after by keen gardeners.
Well-drained soil that retains moisture well in partial sun would be the perfect place to plant most daphne types.
Some varieties have beautiful variegated foliage.
A close up of a variegated Daphne flower
_Daphne odora_ 'Rebecca'
The most sought after varieties are difficult to propagate, so expect to pay more than other shrubs.


A yellow and green leaves of euonymus
_Euonymus fortunei_ 'Emerald 'n Gold'
There are lots of evergreen Euonymus, but many grow quite large.
Those varieties that are selections of Euonymus fortunei are not only low growing but also very easy to grow.
Frequently planted to provide colourful evergreen ground cover, Euonymus frotunei varieties are happy to grow in an extensive range of soils.
This small growing evergreen will tolerate shade, part shade or full sun.
It's also a great plant to grow in containers, either alone or with other small growing evergreen shrubs.
Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald Gaiety' plants
_Euonymus fortunei_ 'Emerald Gaiety'
Most of these grow only knee-high, but you can regularly prune them back if necessary.


A range of colourful hebe plants
Hebes can have very colourful foliage
Hebes are great little flowering evergreen shrubs that often have very attractive, colourful foliage too.
All hebes are evergreen and originate from New Zealand, but many new varieties have been bred here in the UK.
The flowering period for this lovely versatile evergreen bush is long. The first blooms appear on some shrubs in spring and continuing blooming right through until autumn.
A close up of a pink hebe flower
_Hebe_ 'Rosie'
Due to climate change, it is now possible to grow hebes in areas that 20 years ago would have been too cold for them.
Hebes are very wind tolerant and grow rapidly. They can be pruned hard if necessary - best done in late spring.
Flower colours range from shades of white, pink, red, purple and even blue.
Removing spent blooms ('dead-heading') will encourage plants to bloom for longer.
Many of these small Hebe varieties are grow well in large containers.
A green hebe plant in a garden with white flowers
_Hebe albicans_ 'Broughton Dome'
If you want to increase your stock or perhaps give away a cutting to a friend, hebes are very easy to root from softwood or semi-ripe cuttings.
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A field of lavenders in flower
Perhaps of all small growing evergreen shrubs, lavenders are the most popular.
There are many varieties of this scented, summer-flowering, woody evergreen shrub. Most have flowers that are shades of blue or purple.
The dense foliage of lavender is often grey coloured and frequently aromatically scented too.
English or Dutch lavender (Lavandula spica and angustifolia) are hardier than French lavender (Lavandula stoechas).
All lavender need well-drained soil in a sunny position to do well.
English or Dutch lavender varieties are best pruned as soon as the colour fades from the flowers.
To do this, cut all the flower stems off plus a little bit of the shoot below each to keep the plants compact.
A pink flower on a French lavender plant
_Lavandula stoechas_ 'Kew Red'
French lavender has flowers on shorter stems which flower over a more extended period than the more common lavender.
French lavender is also less hardy and can be severely damaged or killed by very harsh, cold winters.
French lavender also tends to resent pruning. A light trim will improve it after most of the flowers have faded.
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