Upper Midwest Evergreens – Choosing Evergreen Shrubs For Upper Midwest

Yellow-Green Leaved Shrub
ENC evergreen
(Image credit: TYNZA)

Evergreen shrubs are useful for year-round color and privacy. Many varieties also offer shelter and food for wildlife. The upper Midwest states of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan have climate extremes, but many varieties of evergreen can thrive here.

Choosing and Growing East North Central Evergreen Shrubs

When choosing evergreen bushes to grow in the northern Midwest, it’s important to find those that will be hardy enough for the cold and snowy winters. These shrubs also need to be able to handle hot summers, sometimes variable conditions, and stormy spring and fall seasons. 

Also, make selections based on what you need in your yard. For instance, if you want a year-round privacy screen in your backyard, choose a species that will grow tall enough. In addition to looking at evergreens that grow in this general region, make sure you match species to your local conditions and specifics like soil type. 

Growing upper Midwest evergreens, once the shrubs are established, doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. Be sure to give them the best start though. Plant evergreens in spring or early summer, before it gets too hot. Water early on until roots get established and also during droughts. 

Mulch around shrubs to hold in moisture and keep weeds down. Wrap more vulnerable shrubs, such as yews, holly, fir, arborvitae, rhododendron, and boxwood in burlap during winter to prevent dieback. 

Evergreen Shrubs for Upper Midwest States

There are plenty of options for evergreen shrubs that will do well year-round in the northern Midwest. Some options are:

  • Holly - This festive evergreen does well in Midwest yards and produces pretty red berries for winter color. Hollies prefer acidic soil. 
  • Korean boxwood - This low hedge is great for ornamental and formal gardens, edging, and borders. Korean boxwood benefits from winter protection. 
  • Wintercreeper - For an evergreen groundcover, you can’t go wrong with wintercreeper. Some varieties grow a little taller and work as low hedges. 
  • Creeping juniper - This juniper variety grows much like a groundcover, creeping and spreading laterally from the main branch. 
  • Common juniper – The evergreen juniper shrub works well in sandy soils like those along the Great Lake coasts.
  • American yew - Yew is a good option for a dense hedge that grows to about 5 feet (1.5 m.) tall. 
  • Arborvitae - There are several varieties of arborvitae that are tall, fast-growing, and perfect for privacy screens. 
  • Rhododendron - A flowering woodland shrub, rhododendron works well in shady spots but might need some protection from winter cold in northern parts of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.