Hedge Selection Tips

Hedges are grown primarily for privacy and beauty and there are too many good choices to list. When considering which plant to use for a hedge, narrow your selections down by trying to define what characteristics you desire.

Are you interested in a formal clipped hedge which requires pruning regularly or are you interested in a more "natural" hedge as a screen which could be a loose grouping of shrubs, perhaps offset from each other.

Think about the other features of the plant you may want. Are you set on having an evergreen or a deciduous hedge?  Are you interested mainly in foliage or blossoms? Some hedge plants are people friendly and others have stickers and are not.  Stickers could be good or bad, depending on your objective.

Importantly, the selection process should choose plants shown to grow well in our cold hardiness area--Tulsa is mostly zone 7. Also think about what type of soil you may have and the amount of sunlight in your planting space. Some of these hedge plants need shade while others have to be in the sun for best performance.

Keeping the above criteria in mind, there are several groupings from which to select. Most of these groups, or genera, will have many unique species and cultivars. This list is of the most commonly used hedge plants and is just a fraction of possibilities.  For more information OSU has an excellent fact sheet, "Selecting Shrubs for the Landscape", online or at the OSU Master Gardener office. Other good references are Carl Whitcombs "Know it and Grow it" and Michael Dirr's "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants".

The following tables are suggestions for hedge plants--divided into needled evergreens, broadleaf evergreen and deciduous.

Needled Evergreen Plants

Plant Genera or Species

Example of Variety


Taxus or Yews

Many cultivars for habit. Densiformis is a good choice.

3-4' tall, 4-6' wide, tolerates many soils and moisture situations. Soft foliage. Podocarpus genus is a look-alike.


Chinese juniper, Creeping j., Rocky Mountain, Savin, Shore and many others

1-30' depending on variety, many with very wide spread. Sun to part shade. Most tough and durable, drought tolerant, cannot tolerate moist soils. Some insect issues.

Thuja or Arborvitae

Eastern arborvitae, Chinese arborvitae

3-60' tall. Widely used but has issues with  heat tolerance in Oklahoma. Attractive and durable once established.



15-20', low growing forms available. Tolerates most well drained soils. Sun to part shade, best on North or East exposure to protect from hot winds.


Leyland cypress

Nice foliage, rapid grower widely used for screens and hedges. There are disease and insect issues.


Hinoki False Cypress, many cultivars and related species

3-30' among varieties. Needs shelter from afternoon sun and hot winds. Attractive fine layered texture.


Broad leaved evergreen plants

Plant Genera or Species

Example of variety



Spring bloomers or reblooming varieties such as Encore or Bloom-A-Thon

Spring bloomers need afternoon shade, the repeat bloomers tolerate much more sun. All need very acid soil and mulching.


"Compacta", "Japonica", "Koreana"

1-6' among varieties, shade tolerant, grows in most well drained soils,  nice dense hedge when pruned.


Blossy abelia, some smaller varieties

3-10' among varieties. Sun to  shade, blooms all summer in sun even after shearing into hedge. Tough plant.


Evergreen E., Spreading E.,

8-12', spreading E. 10' wide. Sun to shade, tolerant of soils and moisture. Insect scale major problem, more with Evergreen than Spreading varieties.


Cherry laurel (English laurel), Carolina, Otto Luykens

4-20' tall, nice deep green, needs well drained soil, sun to shade. Rapid grower which has showy white flowers in spring and purple berries in fall.

Ilex (Holly)

Many cultivars with wide range of appearance.

Shrubs or trees. Many species have sharp leaves, but not all. Most are tough, sun or shade. There is a holly for any situation.


Japanese privet and it's many cultivars

6-12', evergreen, needs regular pruning. Very adaptable, widely used. White spring flowers, dark berries.


At least 150 species. leather leaf and Prague are evergreen.

4-15 feet, many with nice flowers and red or black berries. Great plants which are under-used.

Myrica  or waxmyrtle

Southern waxmyrtle or bayberry

10-15', native to moist woodlands. Attractive bayberry candle odor in spring. Nice plant, effective hedge.


Many varieties of different sizes

2-8', nice red berries on most varieties. Very, very tough. Some varieties with reddish leaves in winter.


Fraser (red tip), Chinese Variety

Fraser 10-15, attractive red leaves during growth spurts. Nice hedge, but has disease issues. Chinese var. disease resistant but no red tips.


Japanese pieris and many cultivars such as "Mountain Fire"

3-4' tall 6-8'wide. New foliage reddish, white flower. Attractive plant. Needs well drained acidic soil. Needs sun.


Chinese Fringeflower, several cultivars have burgundy foliage and pink flowers.

6-10' tall and wide. Full sun to part shade.  Tolerates most soils and drought tolerant once established.


Japanese Aucuba, or "Gold Dust Plant", many varieties have variegated leaves.

4-12' tall, slow growing and very shade tolerant tropical looking shrub. Nice for north side of structures  Drought tolerant, but  needs protection from wind and sun.


Leather leaf Mahonia

6-8', sun to shade—needs some shade in OK. Tolerates all well drained soils. Thick leaves have sharp edges. Beautiful clusters of grape-like berries.


Deciduous Hedge plants

Plant Genera or Species

Example of variety



Redleaf Japanese Barberry, "Atropurpura"

5-8". Makes dense hedge, has spines. Leaves red/purple depending on variety and sun. Attractive red berries. Not drought tolerant.


P. coccinea, or "Firethorn"

6-10'. Full sun, well drained soils. Has thorny spines. Attractive yellow/orange berries. Can be a vigorous grower. Disease issues.


Possumhaw, Deciduous Holly, "Warren", others

4-20'. Native to US in moist lowlands. Tolerant of most soils. Sun to part shade. Nice orange/red berries.



Winter honeysuckle, Tatarian honeysuckle

10-15' shrub. Semi-evergreen. Tough, tolerates most soils, moisture content and light. Insignificant flowers and berries.


Knock-out and related shrub roses

4-6', blooms most of summer. Virus disease, "rose rosette" becoming a problem. Most are black spot resistant. Has thorns.


Many varieties, e.g., Arrowwood, Blackhaw, Nannyberry

6-20' or more. Most with nice foliage with spring flowers and red to black berries and fall color. Sun to part shade. Some are native, tolerant of many soils.


Winged, or Burning Bush (dwarfs available)

10-20'. Sun, tolerant of most soil types and moisture. No scale problems. Dense green summer hedge turning to spectacular red in fall.


Variegated Chinese Privit

3-10' depending on variety. Sun to part shade. Extremely tough and durable hedge plant widely used. Most plantings now are attractive variegated varieties.


Hedge, Cranberry, Rockspray, Spreading are some varieties

1-8' depending on variety. Tough in terms of soils, moisture and sun. Problems with disease (fire blight) and pests.


Ninebark and varieties

4-8', tolerates variety of soils, moisture and sun exposure. Green leaves, gold leafed varieties available. Similar to Vanhoutte spirea. Attractive peeling bark.


Carolina Buckthorn or Indian Cherry

10-15', very tough native plant which tolerates city conditions, nice foliage with some thorns. Red, turning to black berries in fall. Red to blue-black berries


Vanhoutte, Anthony Waterer, magic carpet and others

2-8', tough rapid grower, sun to part shade. Depending on variety, flowers may be white or reddish, and bloom in spring or later in the summer. Best blooming in full sun.