Evergreen Shrubs (6-10 ft)

Camellia japonica

Landscape Significance

Camellias are large, attractive, broad-leaved, evergreen shrubs that are highly prized for their flowers, which bloom from winter to spring.

Use it for specimen plants on the lawn and for colorful accents.

Camellia japonica
This photo was taken on Fort Sumter Dr., Charleston, SC.

This non-native is a signature plant in the Southern garden. It grows very slowly and 100 year-old plants may reach small tree proportions with beautiful smooth bark. The common Japanese Camellia (Camellia japonica) is a broadleaved, evergreen shrub: upright, dense, pyramidal, stiff and formal.  It has shiny dark green foliage and showy flowers which range in color from white to pink and red. The flowers appear on different varieties from September until April.

Camellia japonica may grow to a height of 25 feet, but more often to 6 to 12 feet. It has a spread of 6 to 10 feet. It thrives and blooms best when sheltered from full sun and drying winds and is best grown in part shade.  Once established, it is very drought tolerant. The three most serious camellia diseases in South Carolina are camellia dieback and canker, flower blight and root rot. The most important insect pest to watch for is tea scale.

The Clemson HGIC has more information on Camellia Diseases & Pests: Clemson HGIC - Camellia Diseases and Pests

Identifying characteristics

Serrated margin leaves are leathery, dark lustrous green, alternately simple, and up to 5" long. Its flowers are 2" to 6" across with yellow centers and rounded overlapping petals, much like a rose. Colors range from white, through pinks and reds with variegated forms of each. The flowers may be single, semi-double, or double.  When the flower is spent, it drops with all petals intact.

More information on Camellias is available at the Clemson Home & Garden Information Center: Clemson HGIC - Camelia japonica


Camellia sasanqua

Landscape Significance

Sasanqua Camellias are used anywhere the C. Japonica is suitable.

It is difficult to distinguish the differences between them other than the blossom drop.

Camellia sasanqua
This photo was taken on Fort Sumter Dr., Charleston, SC. 

Camellia sasanqua is a broad-leaved evergreen shrub, varying in form from upright and densely bushy to low and spreading. Sasanquas bear profusions of flowers in fall and early winter depending on cultivar and location. In general they blossom before C. japonica.

Growing faster than C. japonica, heights range from 1½ to 12 feet tall. Sasanquas also tolerate sun better than other species. It is resistant to root rot, unlike C. Japonica, but leaf gall is more common on the sasanqua.  It is also subject to tea scale.

Identifying characteristics

The leaves are dark green, shiny, alternately arranged, serrated, and about 2 inches long. They are usually darker green, smaller and thinner than the leaves of C. japonica. The flowers are mostly single, 2 to 3 inches in diameter, very fragrant, and drop their flowers one petal at a time.

More information about camellias is available at the Clemson Home & Garden Information Center: Clemson HGIC - Camellia


Chindo Bigleaf Viburnum

Landscape Significance

Viburnum flowers attract many butterflies, and the fruit clusters are popular with birds and other wildlife.

It makes an excellent dense tall hedge.

Bigleaf Viburnum
This photo was taken at Trident Technical College, Charleston, SC. 

Originating in Japan, Viburnium awabuki grows in a strongly upright form with fragrant clusters of white flowers in the spring,

It grows very fast up to 15-20 feet tall by 10-15 feet wide. It grows in sun or shade but does not like wet feet. Bigleaf Viburnum has good drought resistance and is best grown in the Midlands and Coastal Plain. Foliage may be damaged if temperatures fall below 10 °F.

Most viburnums are not seriously troubled by diseases or pest.

Identifying characteristics

Viburnium awabuki has very thick, very shiny, narrow 3-to 7-inch-long by ½-to 2-inch-wide leaves with distinct teeth. Berries are bright red, then turn black.

More information about viburnum is available at the Clemson Home & Garden Information Center: Clemson HGIC - Viburnum

Chinese Fringe

Landscape Significance

Chinese Fringe is one of the most versatile plants around.  It can be sheared into a 24" high hedge or allowed to grow into a very large tree.

Several cultivars are available with plenty of variation in leaf color, flower color and growth form, providing a loropetalum to suit a variety of purposes in sunny to partly shady landscapes

Chinese Fringe (Loropetalum chinense)
This photo of the rubrum variety was taken on Fort Sumter Dr., Charleston, SC.

While native to China, Japan and the Himalayas, Loropetalum is well-adapted to all regions of South Carolina. Its white flowers are long, thin petals of fringe-like blooms. Other species include the purple-leafed, pink-flowering forms.

Chinese fringe is a fast growing evergreen that quickly reaches 6 to 10 feet tall but left alone it is capable of reaching heights of 35 ft.  It grows well in sun or part shade (especially in the afternoon) and is extremely drought tolerant. Loropetalums have few serious pest or disease problems, but root rot can be an issue in poorly drained soils.

Identifying characteristics

The simple, finely toothed to entire (smooth-edged) leaves are 1 to 2½ inches long and arranged alternately on somewhat arching branches. The white to off-white flowers are about one inch long with petals that are 1/16th inch wide.

More information is available at the Clemson Home & Garden Information Center: Clemson HGIC - Chinese Fringe Flower



Landscape Significance

Their quick growth rate and thick multi-stemmed habit makes them ideal for use as a screen or informal hedge. New homeowners appreciate oleander's satisfyingly fast growth rate and ability to quickly green up a bare lot.

They are very heat- and drought-tolerant once established, and will grow especially well in seaside gardens, tolerating salt spray and wind.

Oleanders generally grow best in the coastal areas of South Carolina.

Oleander (Nerium oleander)
This photo was taken at Trident Technical College, N. Charleston, SC. 

Nerium oleander is native to northern Africa, the eastern Mediterranean basin and southeast Asia. Oleanders are beautiful large, flowering shrubs that thrive with little care.  Abundant flowers are produced in many colors and some varieties are delightfully fragrant. This plant flowers from early summer until mid-autumn.

Oleanders are usually very large, mounded shrubs that take up considerable space growing to 8 to 12 feet tall and almost as wide as they are tall. They grow best in full sun and will tolerate even reflected heat from a south or west wall. They can suffer from dieback disease from drought stress or severe freezes. The oleander caterpillar is the most damaging pest of oleanders.

 Warning!Oleander is extremely poisonous. Eating even small amounts of any part of the plant can kill. Children have been poisoned by using the twigs as whistles. Contact with skin may cause irritation and smoke from burning cuttings can cause severe reactions.

Identifying characteristics

The leaves are smooth, bright green, thick and leathery. They are long and narrow, lance-shaped, and usually between 4 and 6 inches long and an inch or less wide. Leaves generally grow in whorls.   2-inch single or double blossoms range from white through yellow, peach, salmon and pink to deep burgundy red.

More information about oleander is available at the Clemson Home & Garden Information Center: Clemson HGIC - Oleander


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