En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
3 ratings

Tuesday - June 17, 2008

From: Detroit, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Evergreen shrubs for Michigan
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I'm seeking a small-medium, ornamental, fairly compact, evergreen shrub to complement my front yard woodland wildflower garden. I want a shrub that will flank both sides of my front porch steps. I want something that is not to "rangy" or broad in growth.


There are lots of groundcover height native evergreens in Michigan (e.g., Arctostaphylos uva-ursi(kinnikinnick), Epigaea repens (trailing arbutus), Empetrum nigrum (black crowberry), to name a few), but there aren't too many taller evergreen shrubs. Nevertheless, for your first shrub Mr. SP suggests the following. You will need to check the growing conditions listed under each of these to see if they match that of your yard.

Kalmia angustifolia (sheep laurel) and more information and still more

Hypericum kalmianum (Kalm's St. Johnswort), described by Missouri Botanical Garden as evergreen, by American Beauties Native Plants, based in the Northeast, as semi-evergreen; but Michigan State University Extension reports it as being deciduous. Its leaf retention appears to be dependent on the latitude at which it grows. Still, it is an attractive shrub.

Chamaedaphne calyculata (leatherleaf) and more information and photos.

Mahonia aquifolium (hollyleaved barberry) and more information. This shrub can grow to a height that could also satisfy your more erect shrub requirements.

Here are more suggestions for the second shrub:

Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar). Although this tree can grow to heights of 40 feet or more, there are varieties that are shorter and would serve as a shrub.

Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae) also has cultivars that can be used as a shrub. Here is more information from Michigan State University Extension.

Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock) also has shorter cultivars with more information from Michigan State University Extension.

You can also see a variety of decicuous shrubs that could be used as a screen by doing a Combination Search in our Native Plant Database by choosing 'Michigan' from the Select State or Province option and 'Shrub' under Habit (general appearance). There are also other characteristics you can choose to limit your search results.

Here are a few suggestions from these deciduous shrubs:

Cornus sericea (redosier dogwood) and more information.

Lindera benzoin (northern spicebush) and more information.

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark) and more information.

Kalmia angustifolia

Hypericum kalmianum

Chamaedaphne calyculata

Mahonia aquifolium

Juniperus virginiana

Thuja occidentalis

Tsuga canadensis

Cornus sericea

Lindera benzoin

Physocarpus opulifolius



More Shrubs Questions

Low Ground Cover for Steep, Shaded PA Site
February 17, 2014 - I am located in Downingtown, PA, right on the border between Zone 6 and 7. Please provide a recommendation of a native ground cover for the following conditions: steep slope (greater than 45%), full s...
view the full question and answer

Damaged leaves on bottlebrush buckeye from Glen Mills PA
June 09, 2013 - My recently planted bottlebrush buckeye plants' leaves are looking damaged but it doesn't look like insect or fungus damage. They look battered by wind but I don't understand why that would happen...
view the full question and answer

Darkened leaves on blueberry bush
July 02, 2008 - I have a blueberry bush planted in a very large pot. It has been doing very well, producing berries and new growth. All of a sudden the leaves have begun to turn dark. I have it potted in good soil...
view the full question and answer

Non-native lilacs for Salt Lake City, UT
April 15, 2012 - Is the weather in Salt Lake City UT good enough to plant a lilac bush root? If not, how long should I wait?
view the full question and answer

Use of cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) for tea
February 20, 2006 - Back in the 50's when I spent the summers with my grandmother south of Hondo, Texas, she use to pick leaves from the cenizo (purple sage) bushes, dry them and then brew them for tea. I asked one of m...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center