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

Need a privacy screen beside a pool in Las Vegas, NV.
June 15, 2012 - Hi, I need to plant a privacy screen fence next to the pool. There is only 4-5 feet between the wall and the pool. That leaves only about 2 feet for soil. What are my best options for non invasive r...
view the full question and answer

Hankering for a view-blocking hedge in Hempstead, TX.
July 03, 2013 - Hempstead is 50 miles west of Houston and I am looking for a fast growing native to provide a block of a view for a fairly large area (about half a block). I would prefer something that is also benef...
view the full question and answer

Hillside Erosion in Pace FL
July 17, 2015 - I have a hillside that slopes down about 10 feet to a spring fed pond. The pond drains into Escambia Bay. We have 2 dams with culverts to control the flow of water. Last year during a torrential ra...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for plants for bioswales in Philadelphia, PA
August 24, 2015 - Hello, Are there a handful of species you would recommend for inclusion in bioswales throughout the US? I realize plants need to be selected based on climate, but I'm wondering if there are two or...
view the full question and answer

Bulletproof plants from Burleson TX
April 18, 2013 - I recently wrote you a question concerning planting a privacy plant consisting of wax leaf ligustrum on my country property. Your answer was immediate (thank you-I am impressed). I like the wax leaf ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center