Evergreen Shrubs under 4 ft.

Dwarf Gardenia

Landscape Significance

Gardenia augusta 'Radicans' makes an attractive groundcover for a small area.  Its low growing habit is better used for edging rather than hedging.



Dwarf Gardenia (Gardenia augusta 'Radicans')
This photo was taken on Fort Sumter Dr., Charleston, SC.

Also known as Creeping Gardenia, this cultivar is a low, dense spreading shrub to 2' high that covers itself in small, double-white typical gardenia-like flowers in May and June. 

This plant needs to be protected in the Piedmont so it does not get direct early morning sun. It is drought tolerant and prefers shade. (Note: Gardenia augusta was previously known as Gardenia jasminoides or Cape jessamine.)

Identifying characteristics

Whorled leaf arrangement of leathery, lustrous dark green leaves generally 1/2" x 2".  Fragrant 1" waxy white flowers bloom in early summer.


Landscape Significance

This plant is mainly grown for its outstandingly attractive foliage. 

Fatsia (Fatsia japonica)
This photo was taken on Fort Sumter Drive, Charleston, SC.

Fatsia is a native of Japan, but is now enjoyed in South Carolina. This mounding shrub is a good accent plant in the shade or on patios. Fuzzy clusters of cream-colored pom-pom like flowers form at the end of each stalk in fall with black fruit ripening through the winter. 

It likes slightly acidic soil in shade to partial shade, and also does well as a house plant due to its light requirements. When properly situated, Fatsia is a low-maintenance plant seldom bothered by pests or disease.

Identifying characteristics

Huge, up to 12 in (30 cm) wide leaves are deeply lobed and slightly serrated. Petioles, or leaf stems, are quite long, and hold the leaves up and out with the plant growing to heights of about 8 ft (2.4 m) and about half as wide.

Indian Hawthorne

Landscape Significance

The Indian Hawthorne is an ideal low-maintenance plant for use in small gardens and foundation plantings.

It is tolerant of salt spray and sandy soils and is a good choice for coastal areas.

Indian Hawthorne (Rhaphiolepsis indica)
This photo was taken on Fort Sumter Dr., Charleston, SC.

Indian hawthornes are low-growing evergreen flowering shrubs with a dense mounded growth habit. Crabapple-like pink or white flowers open in April and early May, giving way to bluish-black berries in the fall.

Most cultivars grow between 3 and 6 feet tall and about the same in width. This plant prefers sun, although it will grow in partial shade. Entomosporium leaf spot is the most common disease of Indian hawthorne. The best way to prevent leaf spot is to plant resistant cultivars.

Identifying characteristics

The leathery, dark evergreen leaves are rounded, about 2 to 3 inches long with serrated margins.

More information is available at the Clemson Home & Garden Informaton Center: Clemson HGIC - Indian Hawthorne


Prostrate Plum Yew

Landscape Significance

It is native to Japan, Korea and eastern China, where it grows in the forest understory.

Japanese plum yew tolerates severe pruning.  It makes a good clipped hedge or border in a semi-shady or even shady area. The dark green foliage contrasts well with many other landscape


Prostrate Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia)
This photo was taken at Trident Technical College, N. Charleston, SC.

This low, spreading plant with fern-like folliage has arching, pendulous branches that arch up and out.

The 'Prostrata' cultivar forms a low mound growing to about 2 ft tall with a spread of 4-5 ft. The plum yews are slow growers, some taking as long as 10 years to reach their mature height. They grow best in sandy, slightly acidic soils in part sun to dense shade. This plant is both cold and drought tolerant.

It is also more tolerant of heat than the true yews and more tolerant of shade than almost any needle evergreen. Deer don't eat it and it is usually not affected by pests. Soil nematodes can be a problem and the plant is susceptible to mushroom root rot.

Identifying characteristics

Flat, needle-like dark green leaves are arranged alternately in two ranks on the green twigs.  The leaves are less than 2" long.

Winter Daphne

Landscape Significance

Because of its wonderful fragrance, Daphne should be planted where people can sense its presence. 

Winter Daphne (Daphne odora)
This photo was taken at Hyams Garden Center, Charleston, SC.

Native to China, Daphne odora is considered an aristocrat of southern shrubs.  This densely branched, mounded evergreen produces terminal clusters of highly fragrant small flowers in late January and February through March.

This plant grows well in acidic, well drained soil in part-shade, but will tolerate full sun in the Piedmont.  It is subject to crown gall and root-knot nematode.

Identifying characteristics

Leaves are alternate, simple, leathery, shiny dark green from 1.5 to 3.5" long; pointed and tapered at each end. Flowers range in color from rosy-purple to white and leaf margins range from white to green. This shrub reaches 3' by 3'.

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