9 Evergreen Trees to Grow in Maryland for Year-Round Color

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Written By Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

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There are many reasons to plant an evergreen tree in Maryland.

Evergreens provide unique appeal in every season, particularly in winter when their foliage stands out starkly against the bare winter landscape.

Most evergreens are also hardy and adaptable natives of Maryland, making species such as the loblolly pine and American arborvitae an ideal choice of colorful evergreen.

More often than not evergreens are also a low-maintenance choice for the more hands-off MD gardener – so if you’re a beginner to planting trees on your property, growing evergreen trees in Maryland is a safe bet!

If you are looking for four seasons of colors in your Maryland garden, regardless of your growing zone, look no further than these majestic evergreen trees.

9 Low Maintenance Evergreens That Will Thrive In MD

1. Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

eastern red cedar
Image by Homer Edward Price via Flickr

Found throughout North America and particularly in the east, the eastern red cedar is a medium-sized coniferous evergreen. Despite its name, the eastern red is not actually a cedar tree – instead, it is a species of the juniper tree, and part of the cypress family.

These trees are often planted as an accent or specimen tree but are also very useful when planted in rows as a privacy screen, windbreak, or shelterbelt. They are also an excellent choice for wildlife lovers, as their small, blue fruits will attract many species of birds and small mammals. Its dark wood has a history of use in building furniture, fenceposts, and more.

Eastern red cedars should be planted in fertile, well-draining soil that can be dry or moist but should not be constantly wet. They can be grown in alkaline or acidic soil, and full sun or partial shade.

Other Common Names: Virginia Red Cedar, Savin Evergreen, Cedar Apple, Juniper

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 feet tall, with a 10-20 foot spread

Flowering Season: Early Spring

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

2. Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)

sweetbay magnolia
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

Best known for its large, fragrant white flowers and lance-shaped bright green leaves, the sweetbay magnolia is a dazzling choice of ornamental tree for your MD landscape. Its rounded body and dense foliage also make it a useful shade tree. It is relatively low-maintenance and might be the most pest and disease-resistant in the magnolia family.

Though this is listed as an evergreen tree, be careful to research thoroughly as some cultivars will become deciduous the further north they are planted. Keltyk sweetbay is the safest bet as it is evergreen through zones 5 to 9, though the Santa Rose, Henry Hicks, and other cultivars will be evergreen in some regions of Maryland.

The sweetbay should be planted in moist, rich, fertile soil with an acidic pH. Plant it in an area with either full sun or partial shade, though it needs at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.

Other Common Names: Swamp Magnolia, Sweet Bay Magnolia

Growing Zones: 4-10

Average Size at Maturity: 10-35 feet tall, with a similar spread

Flowering Season: Late Spring, early Summer

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

3. American Holly (Ilex opaca)

american holly
Image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr

The American holly is recognizable to most Americans as a Christmas decoration and symbol, and as such, it is the most popular species of holly used in landscape gardening. According to the US Forest Service, it has the whitest wood known in the country.

Their lustrous, glossy green leaves and bright berries add lovely visual interest, particularly in winter. Though these pyramidal evergreens make excellent specimen plants they can also be planted and pruned into uniform hedges, forming effective privacy screens.

The berries of the holly tree are very attractive but keep in mind they are meant to be eaten by birds only. American holly berries are mildly toxic to both humans and various animals, including dogs, so be wary if you have children and pets in your household.

Grow your American holly in acidic, well-draining soil in full sun and partial shade. If you are planting them as a hedge be sure that each tree is spaced five feet apart.

Other Common Names: Common Holly, Yule Holly, White Holly, Christmas Holly

Growing Zones: 6-9

Average Size at Maturity: 15-30 feet tall, with a 10-20 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Winter

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

4. Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

eastern hemlock
Image by Malcolm Manners via Flickr

As a native tree to Maryland and much of the eastern part of the United States, the Eastern Hemlock tree is perfect for gardeners who want an evergreen that looks stunning in winter and fits well in the local climate. Historically the wood of this tree has offered little commercial value, but its bark was used to tan leather as recently as the early 20th century.

These tall, graceful evergreens form a neat and uniform pyramidal shape that remains tidy throughout the year, making them a prime option for specimen planting. Their dark green and gray needles add texture and color to the landscape.

Eastern hemlock should be planted in moist, loamy, well-draining soil with an acidic pH in a location that provides partial shade, rather than full sunlight. Please keep in mind that despite its name, the eastern hemlock bears no relation to the herbaceous poison hemlock plant, and it is entirely non-toxic.

Other Common Names: Canadian Hemlock

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 60-70 feet tall, with a 20-40 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Fall

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

5. Eastern White Pine (Pinus Strobus)

eastern white pine
Image by James St John via Flickr

Found growing freely in many parts of the eastern United States, the eastern white pine is a large, hardy, and fast-growing tree. These trees can grow for up to 200 years, and though their average height is 80 feet they can grow as high as 150. In the eastern portion of the US, the eastern white pine has historically been an important timber tree due to its lightweight wood.

In landscape gardening, these pines are usually planted as specimen trees, granted that gardeners have space to accommodate them. While they can be used as hedging, they will need to be pruned regularly to keep excess growth in check.

These trees should be grown in acidic, well-draining soil in a location with full sun or partial shade. They prefer cooler climates, so the higher your location is in its hardiness range, the more it will struggle. MD gardeners living in humid coastal areas and inlets may want to consider a different species of evergreen.

Other Common Names: Northern White Pine, Soft Pine, North American White Pine, White Pine, Weymouth Pine

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 50-80 feet tall, with a 20-40 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Fall

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

6. American Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)

american arborvitae
Image by F.D. Richards via Flickr

If you’re a beginner landscape gardener in MD and you are looking for an attractive ornamental evergreen, look no further than the American arborvitae. In fact, they are so easy to grow that they require almost no maintenance once they have been established.

Historically this arborvitae was used as both a source of timber and for its natural medicinal properties, hence the name Arborvitae which translates to ‘tree of life. Today, it is most commonly used as hedging and a privacy screen, as well as a specimen plant.

These neat, almost fluffy-looking arborvitae grow in a dense, either pyramidal or circular shape that can be easily pruned to form your preferred height and shape. They should be grown in moist, well-draining soil with an alkaline pH and in a location with full sun or partial shade.

Other Common Names: Eastern White Cedar, Northern White Cedar, Arborvitae, Eastern Arborvitae

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 25-40 feet tall, with a 10-15 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Spring

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

7. Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)

Douglas Fir - Lyrae WIllis Photos
Images by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Like the eastern red cedar, the Douglas fir’s name is misleading – it is not a true fir. Despite this, it is still the most popular “fir” tree for home landscaping and is commonly chosen as a Christmas tree ornamental.

While this lovely evergreen can grow in Maryland, it will only thrive in regions of the state that fall into zones 4, 5, and 6, such as the Virginia and West Virginia border, Allegany county, Garret county, and more. Familiarize yourself with the USDA zone that your property falls under before purchasing a Douglas fir.

In order to thrive a Douglas fir needs well-draining soil, and it will help if it is moist and loamy with an acidic pH. An area with partial shade or full shade will work equally well, and this tree will need watering several times a month until established. According to the University of Minnesota, these trees are pest-resistant but susceptible to root rot.

Other Common Names: Oregon Pine, Columbia Pine, Douglas Spruce, False Spruce, Red Spruce, Yellow Spruce

Growing Zones: 4-6

Average Size at Maturity: 40-70 feet tall, with a 12-20 foot spread

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

8. Norway Spruce (Picea Abies)

norway spruce
Image by TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋) via Flickr

Similar to its fir and pine tree counterparts, the Norway spruce is a common choice of an ornamental Christmas tree. But it doesn’t just look good in your living room – it can also add a graceful touch to your MD landscape.

With its dark green foliage, pyramidal shape, and ‘weeping’ branches, is a striking tree that does well when grown as an accent or windbreak. Their intricate seed cones also add an ornamental element.

If you are choosing a Norway pine cultivar for your property, be sure to research the specific needs of these cultivars and how they will fare on your planting sites, as cultivar needs can vary significantly.

When choosing a location for your Norway pine, prioritize moist, rich, sandy, and well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH. Give them access to at least six hours of sun per day in an area with plenty of space to accommodate its height and root spread.

Other Common Names: German Spruce, Yugoslavian Sprucetulip

Growing Zones: 2-8

Average Size at Maturity: 50-70 feet tall, with a 25-35 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Fall

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

9. Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda)

loblolly pine
Image by Homer Edward Price via Flickr

This pine tree grows tall and fast, which may have something to do with its commercial importance. Not only is the loblolly pine the second most common tree found growing throughout the United States, but it has significant commercial value as a timber tree in the southeastern US.

In landscape gardening, the loblolly is often used to quickly establish privacy fencing. It is also relatively low maintenance and very adaptable, tolerant of flooding, heat, drought to a lesser extent, and poor-quality soil.

If you want to grow your loblolly pines in perfect conditions, choose a spot with moist, well-draining soil with an acidic pH. Soil type can be sandy, loamy, or clay, but it must be moist. Loblolly prefers full sun (at least four hours a day), and they typically do not need to be fertilized or pruned, with the exception of nutrient deficiencies and any dead or diseased branches.

Other Common Names: Arkansas Pine, Oldfield Pine, North Carolina Pine

Growing Zones: 6-9

Average Size at Maturity: 60-90 feet tall, with a 25-35 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Early Fall

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

Maryland’s Most Beautiful Evergreens

While growing evergreen trees in Maryland is an easy and accessible way to start planting your own trees, it still requires time and attention.

Most important of all is to understand the needs and growing conditions of any evergreen you consider planting – for example, some evergreens, such as the sweetbay magnolia, will become deciduous the warmer the climate is, and you may have to choose unique cultivars to get the effects you desire.

Considering every factor of your landscape garden will save you a lot of trouble and regret in the long run. If you can do that, you are sure to have a vibrant, colorful backyard in Maryland with plenty of seasonal appeal in no time.

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Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

Shannon has always loved looking after trees and plants since as long as she can remember. She grew up gardening with her family in their off-grid home and looking after her neighbor's plant nursery. As a child she also participated in native tree replanting, and as an adult has volunteered in reforestation programs in northern Vietnam. Today, she puts her horticultural efforts into tending her vegetable and herb gardens, and learning about homesteading and permaculture. When she’s not reading, writing, and gardening, she’ll be out fishing and foraging for edible flora and fungi in the countryside around her home.

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