When all the thrilling flowers, fruits, berries, foliage have faded, suddenly you notice the conifers that are all around you. Those evergreen backbones that others thought about ahead, and planted.
Conifers are so valuable in the landscape, even in warmer areas that stay relatively evergreen, because they provide structure and interest. And, not just for you. Coniferous trees provide winter shelter for birds, and seeds upon which both mammals and birds depend. They’re also a preferred nesting spot. Beauty, utility, and a friend to wildlife. That’s a pretty impressive list!
While the classics like blue spruce or white pine will always deserve a place, the world of conifers is vast with lots of choices. Why not go for one with something extra like eye-catching color or a diversity of textures!
Here are nine really interesting ones that thrive in warmer zones.
Black Dragon Japanese Cedar
Zone: 5 – 9
Rigid foliage matures to deep black-green. Dense, irregular pyramid shape is useful as a specimen and in containers. Slow up to 7 ft. tall and 4 ft. wide. Partial to full sun.
Junipers are such durable and useful plants that we often forgot just how elegant they are in an understated sort of way. Case in point is this one with its lacy, golden yellow foliage that stays true year round. How to use? In front of taller foundations plants, along a stone wall or medium-tall fence or just to add zest to shrub beds and mixed island plantings in lawns.Excellent for informal hedges at challenging locations such as driveways, sidewalks, curbs and parkways. Up to 3 ft. tall and 4 ft. wide. Full sun. Zone: 3 – 9
Thunderhead Japanese Black Pine
Zone: 5 – 10
Irregular growth habit and rich, dark green adds year round beauty to the landscape. Silvery white candles in spring. Up to 10 ft. tall, 15 ft. wide. Partial to full sun.
Karl Fuchs Himalayan Cedar
Zone: 6 – 11
Bright-blue spring growth matures to green for a unique shimmering effect. Use with shade lovers such as Japanese maple. Slow to 15 ft. tall and 4 ft. wide. Partial to full sun.
Swane’s Golden Italian Cypress
Zone: 7 – 9
Very narrow, columnar form and bright, golden yellow new growth that retains good color throughout the season. Containers, entries, topiary! Up to 20 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide. Full sun.
Twisty and upright, this one’s unique form and deep green color is striking at entries and to mark gateways or on the corners of a house. Plant just one as a specimen or line up as a loose, informal privacy hedge (do not shear as you will ruin the effect!). Up to 15 ft. tall and 10 ft. wide. Full sun. Zone: 5 – 9.
Foliage is fine to the touch and maintains an upright, compact, tight shape. Use as an evergreen screen, at back of a border, or accent specimen in landscape or container. In colder zones, foliage turns a warm brown, returning green in spring. Slowly reaches 5 ft. wide in ten years, taller with age. Full sun. Zone: 5 – 9