Small or Dwarf Evergreen Shrubs For Full Sun (With Pictures)

Small or Dwarf Evergreen Shrubs For Full Sun

Small evergreen shrubs for planting in full sun add year-long color, fragrance, and aesthetic appeal to a garden landscape. Varieties of dwarf, evergreen bushes and shrubs require little or no care to maintain their height, shape, and growth habit. When deciding on small evergreen shrubs to plant in a sunny garden, you don’t need to limit the choice to sun-loving coniferous shrubs. Many flowering dwarf, evergreen shrubs thrive in more than six hours of daily sunlight. 

Low-growing landscape shrubs for full or partial sun are relatively easy to find. For example, most conifer shrubs thrive in full sun and perform well in partial shade. Other sun-tolerant evergreen bushy plants require several hours of daily sunlight for long blooming times and dense foliage growth. 

This article will help you identify the best full-sun shrubs that keep their leaves throughout the year but grow under 6 ft. (1.8 m) tall. Additionally, pictures of sun-loving flowering bushes and descriptions of their evergreen foliage will help you decide which ones to plant in your front or backyard.

What Does Full Sun Mean?

Full sun means that the small evergreen shrubs require six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily. Some shrubs for full sun may require shade during the intense midday and afternoon sunshine. Generally, these bushy evergreen plants may be described as shrubs for full sun to partial shade or part sun.

How to Choose Small Evergreen Shrubs for Full Sun

Picking suitable evergreen shrubs to plant in a sunny garden landscape requires several factors. First, check sun exposure levels in the planting location—full sun, partial sun, or partial shade. Then consider your USDA growing zone, soil type and drainage, pruning requirements, and susceptibility to pests and disease. 

Types of Small Evergreen Shrubs for Full Sun (With Pictures) – Identification Guide

Small evergreen shrubs for full sun can add a lot of character to your yard. You can plant the low-growing bushes along foundation lines, bed borders, or accent taller plants. 

Let’s look in detail at some excellent sun-loving, small evergreen shrubs to examine their best features. You will also find pictures of the evergreen shrubs to help you with identification.

Dwarf Arborvitae Shrubs (Thuja occidentalis)

Small American arborvitae plants are evergreen shrubs with soft, feathery foliage that thrive in plenty of sunshine. Dwarf arborvitae shrubs grow 1 to 6 ft. (0.3 – 1.8 m) tall. Depending on the cultivar, the evergreen plants can have a rounded or conical growth habit with foliage that ranges from golden-yellow to emerald-green.

Small evergreen arborvitae shrubs are ideal for landscaping shrub borders, container gardens, or growing as a specimen plant. They are also ideal for growing in mass plantings to create an evergreen privacy screen.

Here are descriptions of some of the most attractive small evergreen arborvitae shrubs for full sun:

Thuja occidentalis ‘Aurea Nana’: The small sun loving coniferous shrub has a globose shape with bright golden-green soft, feathery needle-like leaves. The evergreen foliage turns an attractive orange-yellow in the fall and winter. Height: 6 ft. (1.8 m).

Thuja occidentalis ‘Aurea nana’

Thuja occidentalis ‘Aurea nana’

Thuja occidentalis ‘Fire Chief’: One of the most unique arborvitae varieties, the ‘Fire Chief’ is a compact landscape evergreen shrub with golden foliage in spring that turns deep green and fiery red in winter. Height: Height: 3 to 4 ft. (1 – 1.2 m).

Thuja occidentalis FIRE CHIEF

Thuja occidentalis ‘Fire Chief’

Thuja occidentalis ‘Hetz Midget’: The compact evergreen shrub is identified by its rounded growth and densely-growing dark green foliage. In winter, the soft feathery sprays turn a golden bronze color. Height: 3 to 4 ft. (1 – 1.2 m).

Thuja occidentalis ‘Hetz Midget’

Thuja occidentalis ‘Hetz Midget’

Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’: This slow-growing dwarf evergreen shrub features a rounded habit with erect sprays of bright green foliage. Height: 1 to 2 ft. (0.3 – 0.6 m).

Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’

Thuja occidentalis ‘Danica’

USDA growing zone: 2 to 7 (check individual cultivars)

Soil type: Moist, well-drained soils

Sun exposure: Full sun

Small Juniper Shrubs (Juniperus)

Dwarf evergreen juniper shrubs are ideal for landscaping sunny gardens. Juniper shrubs are identified by bluish-green or emerald-green foliage. Varieties of low-growing bushy juniper conifers can have a rounded, spreading, or upright columnar growth. The sun-loving, evergreen shrubs grow 0.5 to 5 ft. (15 cm – 1.5 m) high.

Dwarf juniper conifers are some of the most versatile landscaping evergreen plants for full sun. For example, creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) is ideal for evergreen ground cover in full sun. On the other hand, small common juniper shrubs (Juniperus communis) have a columnar shape. And flaky juniper shrubs (Juniperus squamata) have a spreading growth habit, flat top, and low height.

Here are some types of small evergreen juniper shrubs for growing in full sunshine:

Small juniper shrub ‘Gold Cone’ (Juniperus communis ‘Gold Cone’): An upright, columnar dwarf tree with dense golden-green foliage. Height: 3 to 5 ft. (1 – 1.5 m). 

Juniperus communis 'Gold Cone'

Juniperus communis ‘Gold Cone’

Blue Star Juniper (Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’): A low-growing sun loving conifer shrub with a compact, mounding habit with densely-growing prickly silvery-blue needles. Height: 3 ft. (1 m). 

Blue Star Juniper (Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’)

Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’

Blue Chip Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Blue Chip’): A spreading shrubby coniferous plant with soft, silvery-blue needle-like leaves growing on creeping branches. An ideal plant for ground cover in full sun. Size: 8” to 12” (20 – 30 cm) tall and up to 8 ft. (2.4 m) wide.

Blue Chip Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Blue Chip’)

Juniperus horizontalis ‘Blue Chip’

USDA growing zone: 3 to 9 (check individual cultivars)

Soil type: Medium moisture, well-draining soils

Sun exposure: Full sun

Dwarf Mountain Pine Shrubs (Pinus mugo ‘Pumilio’)

Pinus mugo ‘Pumilio’

Pinus mugo ‘Pumilio’ is a small evergreen pine shrub that can be used as a ground cover for sunny areas

The dwarf evergreen pine shrub ‘Pumilio’ is a small landscaping plant that creates a mounded mat of soft green needles. The outstanding dwarf shrub is slow-growing and features a rich, emerald-green color that stays the same throughout the year. The small shrub grows 3 to 5 ft. (1 – 1.5 m) tall and up to 10 ft. (3 m) wide.

Landscaping ideas for the dwarf pine shrub include planting as evergreen ground cover, enhancing rock gardens, or growing along a foundation line

USDA growing zone: 3 – 7 

Soil type: Most types of well-drained soils, including alkaline, loamy, acidic, and clay

Sun exposure: Full sun

Dwarf Japanese Black Pine (Pinus mugo ‘Mops’)

pinus mugo mops

Pinus mugo ‘Mops’ is a sun loving dwarf evergreen shrub ideal for small spaces

The dwarf Japanese black pine ‘Mops’ is a sun loving miniature shrub suitable for evergreen plantings. This popular compact pine shrub is slow-growing and grows 3 to 5 ft. (1 – 1.5 m) tall and wide. The attractive shrub is ideal for full sun, where its silvery-blue foliage will add color throughout the year.

Dwarf Japanese black pine shrubs are ideal for growing as foundation plantings, specimen plants, or decorating rock gardens. Once established, dwarf pine trees are drought-tolerant plants in the landscape. 

USDA growing zone: 3 to 7  

Soil type: Most well-draining soil types from loamy to clay. 

Sun exposure: Full sun

Dwarf Evergreen Colorado Spruce Shrubs (Picea pungens ‘Globosa’)

dwarf blue spruce Picea pungens 'Globosa'

Picea pungens ‘Globosa’ is a small evergreen spruce shrub with beautiful silvery blue foliage for full sun

The dwarf Colorado spruce is a low-growing evergreen shrub with a broadly pyramidal habit. The small shrub is identified by its stiff, silvery-blue needle leaves that beautify a landscape all year long. The shrub’s unusual foliage and compact shape will stand out in a front or backyard. 

Picea pungens ‘Globosa’ grows 3 to 5 ft. (1 – 1.5 m) tall and up to 6 ft. (1.8 m) wide.

You can grow the dwarf Colorado spruce as a front-of-house foundation plant, border plant, or container plant on a patio, deck, or balcony.

USDA growing zone: 2 to 8

Soil type: Slightly acidic, well-drained soil that is kept moist

Sun exposure: Full sun

Small White Spruce Shrub (Picea glauca ‘Alberta Globe’) 

Picea glauca‘ Alberta Globe’

Picea glauca‘ Alberta Globe’ is a dwarf evergreen spruce shrub for full sun with a round growth habit

The ‘Alberta Globe’ white spruce is one of the best garden plants for evergreen landscaping. The attractive green conifer is identified by its light green, densely-growing foliage, ball shape, and low growth. The miniature evergreen plant grows 1.3 ft. (0.4 m) tall and 2 ft. (0.6 m) wide.

Landscaping uses for sun-tolerant small white spruce shrubs include planting along a sunny border, growing as a foundation, or planting in containers. 

USDA growing zone: 2 to 7

Soil type: Slightly acidic, well-drained soils

Sun exposure: Full sun

Dwarf Japanese Spindle (Euonymus japonicus)

Japanese Spindle (Euonymus japonicus) 

The colorful foliage of small evergreen Japanese spindle shrubs add an ornamental element to any sunny garden. This picture shows the cultivars: Aureo-Marginatus, Silver King and Microphyllus

The small Japanese spindle plant is a bushy, evergreen low maintenance shrub with brightly colored yellow and green or creamy and green leaves. The sun loving variegated shrub retains its leaves throughout the year, adding visual interest in all seasons. The shrub is identified by its small elongated oval leaves and yellow spring flowers. 

Japanese spindle is a fantastic evergreen foliage plant for low-maintenance landscapes. You can grow the shrub as ground cover, foundation plantings, or brighten beds and borders. Additionally, the shrub grows just as well in containers. 

Small Japanese spindle shrubs grow up to 3 ft. (1 m) tall and 2 ft. (0.6 m) wide. 

USDA growing zone: 6 – 9 

Soil type: Medium moisture, well-draining soils

Sun exposure: Full sun or partial sun

Winter Heath (Erica carnea)

erica carnea winter heath

The ornamental small winter heath shrub is grown for its evergreen foliage and purple flowers and is suitable for full sun

Winter heath is an excellent example of a small bushy shrub that produces masses of purple flowers. This attractive small shrub has a long blooming season, lasting through winter until spring. The low-growing shrub doesn’t grow taller than 1 ft. (0.3 m). 

The identifying feature of winter heath is tiny pink, magenta, or rose-colored flowers growing on tall spikes.

Plant winter heath in containers to brighten up a sunny patio or decking area. You can also plant winter heath in groupings as ground cover, foundation plantings, or in rock gardens. 

USDA growing zone: 5 to 8 

Soil type: Acidic, sandy, medium moist soil with good drainage

Sun exposure: Full sun

Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara ‘Feelin’ Blue’)

Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara ‘Feelin’ Blue’)

Deodar cedar ‘Feelin’ Blue’ is a small evergreen shrub for full sun with weeping branches

The deodar cedar ‘Feelin’ Blue’ is one of the smallest cedar shrubs. The small sun loving evergreen shrub is identified by its bright, bluish-green needle leaves growing on sprawling, arching branches. You can use this shrub-like conifer tree as ground cover or stake it to grow an ornamental dwarf weeping tree.

Deodar cedar grows 1 – 3 ft. (0.3 – 1 m) tall and up to 10 ft. (3 m) wide. Plant the shrub in a landscape as ground cover, to cascade over walls or fences, or as a specimen tree for its decorative qualities. The landscaping plant also has high heat and humidity tolerance.

USDA growing zone: 6 to 9 

Soil type: Medium moisture, well-drained soil

Sun exposure: Full sun

Low-Growing Wintercreeper Shrubs for Full Sun (Euonymus fortunei)

Euonymus fortunei shrubs

The colorful foliage of small evergreen euonymus shrubs looks beautiful in a sunny garden. This picture shows the compact cultivars: ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’, ‘Emerald Gaiety’ and ‘Moonshadow’

Wintercreeper is a low-maintenance sun-loving evergreen shrub famous for its spectacular variegated ovate leaves. Wintercreeper is a dwarf shrub identified by its low-growing habit, colorful foliage, and small greenish flowers in the summer. Smaller varieties of the woody, vining shrub grow between 1 and 6 ft. (0.3 – 1.8 m) tall.

Wintercreeper is a versatile evergreen shrub with multiple uses for evergreen landscaping. For example, you can use the small, spreading bushy plant as a low hedge, trailing ground cover, or to cover a foundation. The vining shrub will also climb over trellises or arbors. 

USDA growing zone: 5 to 9

Soil type: Average moisture and well-drained soils. 

Sun exposure: Full sun to partial shade

Small Inkberry Evergreen ‘Shamrock’ Shrub (Ilex glabra ‘Shamrock’)

Ilex glabra Shamrock

Inkberry ‘Shamrock’ is a small low maintenance evergreen shrub for full sun that tolerates poorly-drained soil

The Ilex glabra ‘Shamrock’ cultivar is a low-maintenance evergreen shrub with upward growing leafy stems. Identifying features of the sun loving inkberry ‘Shamrock’ include small white flowers, dark green oval leaves, and blueish-black berries. Inkberry shrubs are short and don’t grow more than 4 ft. (1.2 m) tall. 

Small inkberry shrubs are perfect for planting as low-growing evergreen hedges, mixed shrub borders, foundation plantings, and to line driveways or sidewalks. Due to its tolerance for soggy ground, inkberry also thrives near ponds or streams. 

USDA growing zone: 4 to 9

Soil type: Medium to wet soil; withstands poorly draining soils and soggy conditions

Sun exposure: Full sun or partial sun

Small Azalea Shrubs (Rhododendron spp.


Azalea shrubs include small evergreen cultivars that will give stunning color to full sun or partially shaded garden

Many varieties of azaleas are small evergreen flowering shrubs for full sun that don’t grow more than 6 ft. (1.8 m) tall. Azaleas are identified by their bushy growth, thick, leathery leaves, and spectacular funnel-shaped showy flowers. With their rounded growth habit, the dwarf ornamental shrubs grow between 2 and 6 ft. (0.6 – 1.8 m) tall.

Decorative dwarf azalea shrubs have high aesthetic value in an evergreen landscape. The showy pink, yellow, purple, white, red, and multi-colored blossoms bloom in late spring and early summer. These spectacular blossoms contrast with the attractive foliage growing on a compact, rounded shrub.

As a sun lover, azaleas are perfect for planting in west- or south-facing front or backyards. Varieties of flowering evergreen azaleas are ideal for growing as a colorful hedge, privacy screen, foundation planting, or a shrub border. In addition, some species of heat-loving azaleas are shrubs suitable for growing in Florida.

USDA growing zone: 3 to 7

Soil type: Moist, acidic, well-drained soils

Sun exposure: Full sun, bright shade, filtered sunlight, partial shade

Chinese Privet ‘Sunshine’ (Ligustrum sinense ‘Sunshine’)

Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense 'Sunshine')

The compact Chinese privet shrub adds a burst of golden yellow colored foliage to brighten up sunny garden

Chinese privet is a low-growing yellow-leaved ornamental shrub with clusters of small white flowers and bluish-black berries. The brightly-colored evergreen foliage of Chinese privet is perfect for adding a pop of color to a landscape. The easily identifiable feature of the small shrub is its small, glossy golden yellow leaves. 

Chinese privet ‘Sunshine’ grows 3 to 6 ft. (1 – 1.8 m) tall and up to 4 ft. (1.2 m) wide. The decorative shrub is perfect as an evergreen hedge, shrub border, or growing in pots in a container garden. Chinese privet is also tolerant of salt, heat, and shade.

USDA growing zone: 6 – 10 

Soil type: Average to dry soil that drains well. 

Sun exposure: Full sun or partial sun

Kaleidoscope Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’)

Kaleidoscope Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’)

Kaleidoscope abelia changes its foliage colors throughout the seasons and provide long-year interest in the landscape

Kaleidoscope abelia is a stunning dwarf shrub with colorful foliage and lightly scented white flowers. The identifying features of kaleidoscope abelia are its multi-colored leaves, small star-shaped white flowers, and red fall colors. As a decorative landscaping plant, small abelia shrubs grow 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) tall. 

Grow kaleidoscope abelia shrubs as a short evergreen hedgerow, shrub border, or foundation planting at the front of house.

USDA growing zone: 6 to 9

Soil type: Average, well-drained soils with medium moisture

Sun exposure: Full sun or partial sun

Dwarf Japanese Pieris Shrub (Pieris japonica ‘Cavatine’)

Cavatine Dwarf Japanese Pieris (Pieris japonica ‘Cavatine’)

The small flowering evergreen Pieris japonica ‘Cavatine’ shrub looks beautiful in any front or backyard

Japanese Pieris ‘Cavatine’ is a small, compact ornamental shrub with evergreen leaves and clusters of white flowers. The attractive features of Pieris shrubs are their slender, lance-shaped leaves and conical flower clusters containing urn-shaped blossoms. Japanese Pieris ‘Cavatine’ grows 2 ft. (0.6 m) tall and spreads up to 3 ft. (1 m). 

Also called lily-of-the-valley shrub, the spectacular white-flowering evergreen shrub thrives on the sunny side of buildings, south-facing front yards, and dappled sunlight. 

USDA growing zone: 5 to 8

Soil type: Well-drained, slightly acidic soils

Sun exposure: Full sun to partial shade

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