By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Evergreens are versatile plants that retain their leaves and add color to the landscape all year round. Choosing evergreen plants is a piece of cake, but finding suitable shade plants for zone 9’s warm climate is a bit trickier. Keep in mind that ferns are always dependable choices for shade gardens, but there are so many more. With a number of zone 9 evergreen shade plants from which to choose, it can be overwhelming. Let’s learn more about evergreen shade plants for zone 9 gardens.
Shade Plants in Zone 9
Growing evergreen shade plants is easy enough, but choosing which ones are most suitable for your landscape is the difficult part. It helps to consider the various types of shade and then going from there.
Light shade defines an area in which plants receive two to three hours of morning sunlight, or even filtered sunlight such as a spot under an open canopy tree. The plants in light shade are not exposed to direct afternoon sunlight in hot climates. Suitable zone 9 evergreen plants for this type of shade include:
- Laurel (Kalmia spp.) – Shrub
- Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) – Ground cover
- Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) – Shrub (also moderate shade)
- Scarlet firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea) – Shrub (also moderate shade)
Plants in partial shade, often referred to as moderate shade, semi shade, or half shade, generally receive four to five hours of morning or dappled sunlight per day, but are not exposed to direct sunlight in hot climates. There are a number of zone 9 plants that fill the bill. Here are a few common ones:
- Rhododendron and azalea (Rhododendron spp.) – Blooming shrub (Check tag; some are deciduous.)
- Periwinkle (Vinca minor) – Blooming ground cover (also deep shade)
- Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) – Blooming plant
- Japanese sedge (Carex spp.) – Ornamental grass
Selecting evergreen plants for deep or full shade is a difficult task, as plants receive less than two hours of sunlight per day. However, there are a surprising number of plants that tolerate semi-darkness. Try these favorites:
- Leucothoe (Leucothe spp.) – Shrub
- English ivy (Hedera helix) – Ground cover (Considered an invasive species in some areas)
- Lilyturf (Liriope muscari) – Ground cover/ornamental grass
- Mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) – Ground cover/ornamental grass
- Aucuba (Aucuba japonica) – Shrub (also partial shade or full sun)
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Read more about Zone 9, 10 & 11
Why plant groundcovers that stay green all winter
The reasons for including evergreen groundcover plants in your garden are many.
- These plants provide visual interest at a time when many other plants are completely dormant.
- They give shelter to overwintering beneficial insects and pollinators.
- In addition, many varieties of evergreen groundcover have fibrous roots that help limit soil erosion.
- All year long, their green shoots help diffuse heavy rain and snowfall before it hits the soil.
- And one last benefit of using evergreen varieties of groundcovers: they act as a living mulch, constantly shading the soil and limiting weed seed germination. Plus, established groundcovers are exceptional at out-competing many weeds.
An extra bonus of some types of evergreen groundcovers is their bloom power. While not all of these unique groundcovers produce flowers, many of them do. During the growing season, these low-growing plants are smothered in flowers that are adored by both humans and many species of pollinators.
14 | Anise (Illicium Parviflorum)
Zones: 7 to 10
Light: Shade to Part Shade
Bloom Time: Spring
Height: 5′ to 15′
Spread: 5′ to 10′
Anise (Illicium parviflorum) is an evergreen native plant with insignificant yellow-green flowers in the spring. But it is mostly grown for the color of its foliage.
With its heat resistance, yellow-green leaves and small star-shaped fruit, this shrub is a stand out in the Southern shade garden.
It is an easy to care for bush that likes moist soil but will tolerate some drought once established.