The Q&A Archives: Shade-tolerant Evergreens

Question: I'm seeking suggestions for evergreen trees or tall bushes that can tolerate almost no sun. I live in an apartment building in New York City, and I donated two beautiful 10 foot tall Arbor Vitae's to the front of the building. Unfortunately, they died within several months, apparently because they got no more than about 1 hour of sun a day or less (imagine the bottom of a concrete cavern). The building feels bad for my loss, and wants to buy some replacement trees, so I'm anxious to make sure they are hardy, will stay green and healthy all year (through the snow) and, most important, can tolerate low light. Any suggestions? Many thanks!

Answer: City conditions can be so difficult on plants. Unfortunately, I can't think of any tall evergreen that would be healthy in such a dark location over the long term. You might try a topiary form designed to fit the space and covered with the hardy and evergreen English ivy (Hedera helix) instead. Although certainly not a tree per se, this would at least create the visual impression of a large evergreen and should stay quite healthy.

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