8 Excellent Evergreen Trees That Will Thrive in USDA Zone 8

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Written By Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

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Home » USDA Zone 8 » 8 Excellent Evergreen Trees That Will Thrive in USDA Zone 8

If you’re looking to establish a new garden on a bare landscape, evergreen trees are one of the first things you should consider.

These trees keep their foliage in every season, adding color and texture to your property while other trees and plants are dormant and bare. They will give life to your surroundings in winter, and so are an essential landscaping element.

If you’re looking to provide automatic structure to your landscape in USDA hardiness zone 8, evergreen trees are the way to go.

Here are some of the best zone 8 evergreen trees for you to consider.

8 Evergreen Trees For Zone 8 Gardeners

1. California Laurel (Umbellularia californica)

California Laurel Tree
Image by Leonora (Ellie) Enking via Flickr

Native to the Western coastal forests and foothills of California and Oregon, the California Laurel (known as the Oregon myrtle in OR) is a hardwood evergreen tree that can also be grown as a large shrub. It is a tall tree with a dense, rounded crown and glossy, lance-shaped leaves. In fall it produces olive-like purple-brown fruits.

Along with its twigs, its leaves are highly aromatic and have historically been used as a food seasoning. This is no longer recommended as it contains the toxic headache-inducing compound Umbellularia. Its wood can be used for commercial woodworking.

In landscaping the California Laurel is best used as an ornamental, street tree, hedge, or windbreak. Plant it in a location with either full sun or full shade (it can tolerate both) and deep, moist, well-draining soil with an acidic to neutral pH. Otherwise, it is adaptable to varying soil types.

Other Common Names: California Bay Laurel, California Bay, Pepperwood, Californian Olive Tree, Californian Spice Tree, Oregon Myrtle, Balm of Heaven, Headache Tree

Growing Zones: 7-9

Average Size at Maturity: 20-80 feet tall, with a 20-100 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Winter to Late Spring

2. Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris)

Longleaf Pine Trees
Image by Chris M Morris via Flickr

While many pine trees prefer cooler climates, that doesn’t mean US gardeners in warmer zones have to miss out. The Longleaf Pine has a rather short range of suitable temperatures, growing in just zone 7 to 9, which makes it a perfect evergreen tree for zone 8!

The Longleaf is a very tall evergreen pine with an elegant super straight growing habit that is prone to gentle swaying in the slightest breezes. It has textured reddish-brown bark that is fissured into jutting blocks that add notable texture to the landscape. Its needles are unusually long, and fall pinecones are the largest in the eastern United States.

Both in recent times and historically, this pine variety is most often planted as a timber resource in commercial forests. Otherwise, plant them in the landscape as a border, privacy screen, or legacy tree (Longleaf Pines live for hundreds of years!).

Other Common Names: Long-Leaf Pine, Southern Pine

Growing Zones: 7-9

Average Size at Maturity: 80-100 feet tall, with a 30-40 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Fall

Available at: Nature Hills

3. Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Bull Bay Magnolia, Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) Tree, Flower and Bud
Image by Fern Berg, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

While not the largest evergreen species, the Southern Magnolia is certainly one of the larger flowering evergreens you can plant in zone 8, often growing up to 80 feet tall!

Its leaves and flowers are large too, and add significant ornamental value to its surroundings no matter where it is planted. Its flowers are large, waxy, and pure white, shaped like a cup and emitting a pleasant floral fragrance.

If you want a stunning ornamental evergreen you can’t go wrong with the Southern Magnolia, but it does have some drawbacks to take into consideration. You need enough space to accommodate it in your landscape, and extra time to carefully mulch it to prevent soil erosion. Other plants and trees are also unlikely to grow well beneath it.

Otherwise, the Southern Magnolia is a hardy evergreen that can adapt to a variety of soil types. For best results, plant in moist, loamy, well-draining soil with an acidic pH.

Other Common Names: Bull Bay, Large Tree Magnolia

Growing Zones: 6-10

Average Size at Maturity: 60-80 feet tall, with a 35-40 foot spread

Flowering Season: Late Spring to Early Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

4. Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera)

Wax Myrtle
Image by Katja Schulz via Flickr

A broadleaf evergreen shrub native to the marshes, forests, and swamps of the southeastern US, the Wax Myrtle is an attractive addition to landscapes in warmer climates. Its long, nodding stems, glossy green leaves, small white flowers, and waxy blue fruits all add a unique element to its overall appearance.

These olive-green rounded shrubs are most often planted as loose hedges, barriers, or privacy trees, but they are also underrated specimen plants that look lovely planted near a water feature.

If you live near the coast the wax myrtle is a good choice as the Clemson Cooperative Extension lists it as tolerant to sand, drought, full sun, and salt spray.

For best results plant the wax myrtle in full sun to part shade, in moist, well-draining soil. Otherwise, it is fairly adaptable and can grow in a wide range of soil conditions.

Other Common Names: Bayberry, Candleberry, Eastern Bayberry, Tallow Shrub, Southern Bayberry, Southern Waxmyrtle

Growing Zones: 7-10

Average Size at Maturity: 20-25 feet tall, with an 8-10 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Late Summer to Mid Fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

5. Holm Oak (Quercus ilex)

Oaks may not be the first species you think of when it comes to evergreen trees, but that’s because you’ve never heard of the Holm Oak!

This large, hardy oak tree has an enormous spreading crown, smooth gray bark with a slightly cracked texture, and dark, shiny leaves that remain on the branches year-round. In spring it produces subtle yellow-green clusters of flowers and catkins, which are followed in fall by smallish acorns.

While it is not as effective a wildlife tree as other oak species, the Holm Oak still has a number of landscaping uses: it makes an effective specimen plant due to its striking form and as an evergreen hedge, screen, or foundation planting.

The Holm Oak is largely disease-free but can be susceptible to aphids and leaf-mining moths. It is hardy and easy to grow, needing only moist, fertile, well-draining soil and full sunlight.

Other Common Names: Holm Oak, Holly-Leaved Oak, Evergreen Oak

Growing Zones: 7-10

Average Size at Maturity: 40-70 feet tall, with a similar spread

Fruiting Season: Fall

6. Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica)

Portuguese Laurel Tree
Image by Wendy Cutler via Flickr

Hailing from Spain and Portugal, the Portuguese Laurel is an exotic evergreen that can be used in a number of ways in landscape gardening. It has lush, dark green foliage and produces fragrant white flowers in spring. Along with its small black fruits, they will attract plenty of wildlife to your property.

The Portuguese Laurel can be grown either as a large shrub or a small tree if its lower limbs are removed. More often than not it is heavily pruned and sheared into hedges or formal specimen plants. This tree adapts well to heavy pruning and can be formed into different shapes to create a dramatic, stylistic effect.

According to the Washington State University Extension, the Portuguese Laurel can be invasive in some states, and gardeners are expected to monitor their trees carefully to ensure it does not spread beyond their property. Make sure to check the Portuguese Laurel’s status in your state.

Other Common Names: Portuguese Cherrylaurel, Portugal Laurel, Cherry Laurel

Growing Zones: 6-9

Average Size at Maturity: 20-25 feet tall, with a 15-25 foot spread

Flowering Season: Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

7. Blue Arrow Juniper (Juniperus virginiana ‘Blue Arrow’)

Blue Arrow Juniper Trees
Image via Nature Hills

Elegant, beautiful, unusual – all words that can be used to describe the distinctive Blue Arrow Juniper. It is named both for the silvery blue hue of its feathery and for its narrow, vertical growth habit which resembles the shape of an arrowhead.

The evergreen foliage of the Blue Arrow is very finely textured, adding a unique accent to your garden. Its eye-catching appearance makes for a lovely specimen plant or focal point, but it can also be used as a barrier, windbreak, or backdrop. Since this evergreen only grows between 2-4 feet wide you can also use it to fill compact spaces with color and character.

Considering its delicate appearance, the Blue Arrow is surprisingly easy to grow. Its only major requirements are full sun and well-draining soil. It should be watered deeply to maintain moisture until fully established.

Growing Zones: 4-8

Average Size at Maturity: 16-20 feet tall, with a 2-4 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Fall to Winter

Available at: Nature Hills

8. Green Spire Euonymus (Euonymus japonicus ‘Green Spire’)

Green Spire Euonymus
Image via Nature Hills

Looking for an evergreen formal hedge that needs little care or touching up through the year?

Consider the Green Spire Euonymus, a versatile broad-leaved shrub that will add a sophisticated element to your property with its evergreen leaves and dense, columnar growth habit.

Plant the Green Spire as a neat, small-sized hedge, specimen, accent, or backdrop to a mixed border on your property. They can even be planted in containers and will stand up very well to heavy pruning if you want a different shape. When left unpruned the tree will grow in distinctive vertical shoots that will add interest no matter where you plant it.

The Green Spire Euonymus is a hardy and adaptable zone 8 evergreen, able to withstand most soil types and pH levels. However, well-draining soil is essential and at least four hours of sunlight daily is recommended to encourage the Green Spire’s dense growing habit.

Other Common Names: Japanese Euonymus

Growing Zones: 6-9

Average Size at Maturity: 6-8 feet tall, with a 1-2 foot spread

Flowering Season: Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

Year-long Color and Texture With These Vibrant Evergreens

You truly can’t go wrong with a well-chosen evergreen tree, and the species above are some of the most attractive and useful evergreens for zone 8.

From the exotic Portuguese laurel to the eye-catching beauty of the southern magnolia, these trees can be used in different ways but every one will provide annual color in your garden and wider landscape.

If you are specifically seeking options for evergreens that will block sight into your property, check out some of these excellent privacy trees for zone 8.

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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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