Zone 4 Evergreen Shrubs – Growing Evergreen Shrubs In Cold Climates

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By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Evergreen shrubs are important plants in the landscape, providing color and texture all year round, while providing winter protection for birds and small wildlife. Selecting zone 4 evergreen shrubs requires careful consideration, however, as not all evergreens are equipped to withstand winter temperatures that can plummet to -30 F. (-34 C.). Read on for helpful tips and examples of cold hardy evergreen shrubs, all suitable for growing in zone 4 or below.

Growing Evergreen Shrubs in Cold Climates

Gardeners considering shrubs for zone 4 must be aware that USDA plant hardiness zones are simply temperature guidelines, and although they are helpful, they don’t consider microclimates within a zone, influenced by wind, snow cover and other factors. Cold hardy evergreen shrubs must be tough and resistant to unavoidable temperature fluctuations that frequently occur in winter.

A thick layer of mulch provides much needed protection to the roots during cold winter months. It’s also a good idea to plant zone 4 evergreen shrubs where the plants aren’t exposed to warm afternoon sun during winter afternoons, as sub-zero temperatures that often follow warm days can do serious damage.

Evergreen Shrubs for Zone 4

Needles evergreen varieties are commonly planted in cooler zones. Most juniper shrubs are suitable for growing in zone 4, and many are tough enough to tolerate zones 2 and 3. Juniper is available in low-growing, spreading varieties and more upright types. Similarly, most types of arborvitaeare extremely cold hardy evergreen shrubs. Spruce, pineand firare also very cold hardy evergreen. All three are available in a range of sizes and forms.

Of the above mentioned needle-type plants, here are some good selections:

  • Buffalo juniper (Juniperus sabina ‘Buffalo’)
  • Emerald Green arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’)
  • Birds Nest Norway spruce (Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’)
  • Blue Wonder spruce (Picea glauca ‘Blue Wonder’)
  • Big Tuno mugo pine (Pinus mugo ‘Big Tuna’)
  • Austrian pine (Pinus nigra)
  • Russian cypress (Microbiota decussata)

Zone 4 evergreen shrubs are popular in the landscape too. Here are some suitable broadleaf evergreen choices for this zone:

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