Plant(s) of the Week: Four cold hardy, compact evergreens

Well, last week, I was off for the holiday, and Friday blew by like the last piece of pumpkin pie! So here’s a little bonus article to make up for it.

Once again, winter is blowing its way toward us. If you’re looking for evergreen shrubs that will provide a little cheerful color when all else is gray and sleepy, these are just the ticket. Don’t underestimate them! Just because these guys are small, it doesn’t mean they aren’t tough. All four are hardy down to at least USDA zone 4, which makes them very resistant to most winter weather.


Montana Moss juniper brings a refreshing blue-green tone to your groundcover plantings. Its moss-like foliage is soft to the touch, and its ability to withstand deer, drought, heat, and sun makes it a go-to choice for tough evergreen groundcovers. Hardy in USDA zone 4-9 (-30°F/-34°C) and reaches heights of 2-4′ and widths of 3-5′.


An irresistible dwarf evergreen, Tater Tot is a delightful dwarf globe arborvitae. It naturally grows as a tidy little ball of fragrant, fan-like evergreen foliage. It’s quite tolerant of shade as well, so you can plant it just about anywhere and enjoy year-round beauty from this easy-care native shrub. Looks great in a container, too. Hardy down to USDA zone 3-7 (-40°F/-40°C) and is our smallest shrub of the bunch, at just 1-2′ tall and wide.


A super-tough selection of native Juniperus communis, Tortuga naturally grows as a neat, low mound of fluffy, jade-green foliage. The perfect plant for even the most difficult locations, such as underneath a silver maple. It is tolerant of deer, drought, dry soil, air pollution, poor fertility, mountain goats, polar vortexes, black walnut toxicity, sand, rocks, groundhogs, limestone, road salt, and who knows what else? It’s super hardy down to USDA zones 2-7 (-50°F/-45.5°C) and wider than it is tall at 2′ high and 3-4′ wide.


Siberian cypress is a hardy, low-growing evergreen for sun or shade, but the species is often plagued with tip dieback. Celtic Pride Siberian cypress solves that with superior disease resistance and excellent winter color. The fern-like green foliage turns an attractive russet color in winter. Very hardy and deer resistant, it’s a great alternative to juniper for those with semi-shaded conditions. Also hardy down to the most frigid temps, USDA zones 2-7 (-50°F/-45°C). This groundcover shrub transforms areas into a lush evergreen carpet at just 1-3′ tall and 4-6′ wide.

If you’re on the lookout for some feisty, fun little fellows that thrive in cold climates, these shrubs are the way to go. Try planting them in borders, groups of three or five, or mix them to create a yearlong worry-free display of varied colors and textures. They can even be placed in containers to dress up patios and porches.

Note: Here in the north, it’s too late to plant anything, including evergreens, even if it’s warmed up a bit. Plan on planting them in spring so they have a season to acclimate, and you can enjoy them next winter!

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