Full Sun Evergreens: Growing Sun Loving Evergreen Plants

evergreen sun
evergreen sun
(Image credit: steverts)

Deciduous trees provide summer shade and leafy beauty. For texture and color all year long though, evergreens cannot be beat. That’s why many gardeners consider evergreen shrubs and trees the backbone of their landscaping. Most evergreens like partial sun, but what should you do for that full sun site? Use one of the full sun evergreens, either needled or broadleaf.

Here are a few of our favorite sun-loving evergreen plants to consider for backyard landscaping.

Evergreens for Full Sun

Sun-loving evergreen plants serve many functions in the backyard. They can stand as impressive specimen trees or shrubs, create a privacy screen, and/or provide shelter for beneficial wildlife.

Evergreens for full sun can be either conifers with needle-like foliage or broadleaf evergreens like azalea or holly. While some can tolerate partial shade, many prefer getting those rays for most of the day. These are the full sun evergreens you’ll want to take a look at.

Needled Evergreen Trees for Sun

Conifers can make lovely landscape trees, and some are full sun evergreens. One that is sure to charm in a sunny backyard is the silver Korean fir (Abies koreana 'Horstmann's Silberlocke'). The tree is densely covered in soft, silvery needles curling toward the branch. It thrives in USDA zones 5 through 8 where it can grow to 30 feet tall (9 m.).

For those with smaller yards, consider weeping white pine (Pinus strobus 'Pendula'). This stunning specimen grows to 10 feet (3 m.), offering a cascade of gorgeous blue green needles. It is happy in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 8 and, like the silver Korean fir, prefers full sun and well-drained soil.

Dwarf blue spruce (Picea pungens 'Montgomery') will entice you with its icy blue needles and small, fit anywhere size. These dwarf trees top out at about 8 feet tall (2 m.) and wide.

Broadleaf Evergreen Trees for Sun

It’s easy to forget that “evergreen” includes more than Christmas trees. Broadleaf evergreens can be lacy or majestic and many of them thrive in full sun.

One true beauty is strawberry madrone (Arbutus unedo) with its lovely reddish bark and rich dark green foliage, topped by white blossoms in fall and winter. The flowers develop into crimson berries that please the birds and squirrels. Plant this evergreen in full sun in USDA zones 8 through 11.

Why not get an evergreen tree that multitasks, like a lemon (Citrus limon) tree? These sun-loving trees provide pretty, year-round foliage plus blossoms with a sweet scent that develop juicy lemon fruit. Or go tropical with evergreen palms like the windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortune), which thrives in USDA zones 9 and 10. Its branches offer palmate foliage, and the tree shoots up to 35 feet (11 m.) tall.

Evergreen Shrubs for Sun

If you are looking for something smaller, there are many evergreen shrubs for sun to choose among. Some are flowering, like gardenia (Gardenia augusta) with their elegant blossoms, while others offer glossy leaves and bright berries, like holly varieties (Ilex spp.)

Other interesting evergreen shrubs for sun include bamboo-like nandina (Nandina domestica) or cotoneaster (Cotoneaster spp.) that makes a great hedge plant. Daphne (Daphne spp.) only grows to 3 feet (1 m.) tall and wide, but the romantic flower clusters fill your garden with fragrance.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.