Choosing a compact bush - Knowledgebase Question

Treynor, Io
Question by jabberjaws54
April 9, 2010
Hello I am looking for a shrub/bush to plant in front of my house. so i want something thats only going to get 2-3 foot tall and can grow in sun to partial shade in zone 5. Any ideas?

Answer from NGA
April 9, 2010


There are lots of evergreen shrubs to consider, but most prefer to be maintained at 3-4' tall. Below are some shrubs to consider and all can be kept at about 3' rall and wide. Korean boxwoods (Buxus microphylla var. koreana) can be used as specimen plants or formal hedges. 'Wintergreen' and 'Winter Gem' have small, rounded, light green leaves. 'Green Mound,' 'Green Mountain,' and 'Green Velvet' are three recently introduced hybrids that possess dark green foliage and grow about 3 feet tall.

Boxwoods perform best in moist, well-drained, neutral to slightly alkaline soils. They also require a sheltered location. Boxwood foliage is susceptible to winter burn when subjected to strong winds or intense sun during the winter months

Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei) is commonly used as a groundcover or vine. However, several varieties also can be used as low-growing shrubs or hedges. 'Canadale Gold' and 'Emerald 'n Gold' have glossy green leaves with golden yellow margins. 'Emerald Gaiety' has green foliage with irregular white margins. All three varieties grow 2 to 3 feet tall. 'Sarcoxie' is an upright form with dark green foliage. It can reach a height of 4 to 5 feet.

Wintercreeper can be grown in full sun to shade. While it adapts to most soils, wet poorly drained sites should be avoided.

Inkberry (Ilex glabra) is a holly with dark green foliage. Inkberry and other hollies are dioecious. Dioecious plant species produce male and female flowers on separate plants. Only the female plants produce fruit. However, a male plant is required for pollination and fruit set. Female plants produce black, pea-size fruit. 'Compacta' is a dwarf female variety that grows 3 to 4 feet tall. 'Shamrock' (female) grows 3 feet tall. 'Nordic' (male) is a compact, rounded shrub that grows 3 to 4 feet tall. Inkberry requires a moist, acid soil in partial shade to full sun.

The 'PJM' rhododendron grows well over much of the upper Midwest. The small, evergreen foliage is dark green in summer, but turns to a maroon-purple in the fall. The flower buds (hardy to -35 F) produce bright lavender pink blossoms in mid to late April. The mature height and spread of the 'PJM' rhododendron is approximately 4 to 6 feet tall. Several selections of 'PJM' are available and include 'Black Satin' (winter foliage is shiny, coal black), 'PJM Elite' (blossoms are slightly more pink), and 'PJM Compact' (4 feet tall, lavender pink flowers). 'PJM' was introduced by the Weston Nursery in Hopkinton, Massachusetts and was named after its owner Peter J. Mezitt.

Two other Weston Nursery hybrids, 'Aglo' and 'Olga Mezitt,' also do well in Iowa. 'Aglo' has light pink flowers with dark pink throats. It blooms about 7 to 10 days after 'PJM.' The small green leaves turn to a bronze color in fall. 'Olga Mezitt' produces bright pink flowers on 4 to 5 foot shrubs.

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