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

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Sunday - May 29, 2011

From: Toledo, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant, Shrubs
Title: Evergreen Deck Plant for Oregon
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Need evergreen shrub to grow in shade in container 5ft tall for deck.

ANSWER:

Wow!   You have a number of great choices.  I used the recommended species list for Oregon, then I selected “shrubs” as the aspect and “Shade <2 hrs sun”.  This still left 25 plants as possibilities.  When I read through the set, looking for evergreens, a reasonable size and native to the central coastline, I still had 9 plants on my list!

 Top of the list has got to be Mahonia aquifolium (Holly-leaf oregon-grape).  The record shows that Holly-leaf Oregon-grape is a 3-6 ft., mound-shaped, broadleaf evergreen shrub with pinnately compound, glossy, leathery leaves.  The 5-9 dark-green leaflets are armed with spiny teeth and turn reddish in fall.  Terminal clusters of bright-yellow, bell-shaped flowers are followed by clusters of tiny blue, grape-like fruits.  The bronzy copper color or the new growth in spring is an added bonus.  This stout shrub is the state flower of Oregon - Sounds like a good conversation piece to me!

Two other great choices are Rhododendron macrophyllum (Pacific rhododendron) and Vaccinium ovatum (California huckleberry).  The rhododendron, of course, because it is showy, and the huckleberry as it has edible berries [whether or not you choose to]!

                   
Mahonia aquifolium
               Rhododendron macrophyllum        Gaultheria shallon

 Rounding out my list of possible shrubs:  Ledum groenlandicum (Bog labrador tea),  Gaultheria shallon (Salal)Ceanothus velutinus (Snowbrush)Ceanothus sanguineus (Oregon teatree), and Arctostaphylos columbiana (Hairy manzanita)

And – just to check – rather than a 5 ft. shrub, is it the container that is 5 ft tall?  If so, then a trailing shrub like Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick) may be a good choice instead.

 

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