8 Hedge Plants to Grow in New York

A hedge helps to provide privacy to your property. Which ones should you consider growing in New York?

A hedge is considered a natural wall. While some hedges are just decorative, others serve a more functional role. They are a great way to add a little greenery, structure, or neat formality to your landscape.

Plants used as decorative hedges are frequently manicured to specific shapes and sizes. These hedge plants can provide security, privacy, protection, or shade.

1. American Holly (Ilex opaca)

Evergreen American holly trees have a slow growth rate and can grow to be 40 to 60 feet tall. However, improved varieties of American Holly are grown as ornamentals, shade plants, and hedge plants. 

The tree has alternating spiny-toothed leaves, although some leaves also have smooth edges. The bark is gray-white and might have warts or spots. The blossoming of tiny, pale green, single flowers begins in late April. 

The evergreen fruiting branches are traditional Christmas decorations. Many songbirds, gamebirds, and animals enjoy the bitter berries, but the fruits are poisonous to humans.

american holly procumbens red berries

2. Inkberry (Ilex glabra)

Inkberry holly is a slow-growing, rounded-to-upright evergreen shrub. It has beautiful winter color and is easy to cultivate. When massed or grouped, they can be utilized as foundation plants, informal hedges, or shrub borders.

In May and June, greenish-white flowers emerge, followed by pea-sized black fruits that ripen in early October. The inkberry leaves are glossy, dark green, and oval.

This shrub grows best in full sun and wet soil, making it a popular choice for planting in moist places such as forest gardens, bogs, and ponds.

purple inkberry holly plant

3. Canadian Yew (Taxus Canadensis marshall)

Despite its name, the Canadian yew can be found in several North American states, including New York. This indigenous plant can be used as a ground cover or a low hedge.

It lacks flowers and fruits in favor of spreading branches of dark green needle-like leaves. The foliage will turn reddish-brown in winter.

The Canadian yew may be grown in either direct sunlight or partial shade. It is a hardy plant that can withstand extremely low temperatures. It does, however, require moist environments and will not tolerate the sun, heat, or drought.

canadian yew taxus indegenous plant

4. Common Juniper (Juniperus communis)

Aside from being visually appealing, common juniper provides a bountiful supply of food for birds. The leaves on this evergreen shrub are pointy, three-lobed, and grey-green.

With enough light, it will flourish as a tree or shrub almost anywhere and can also be grown as a hedge. After 18 months, the seed cones that first emerge green will turn purple-black with a blue waxy covering.

Juniper is a woody shrub that grows slowly, gaining 4 to 15 inches annually. It can grow to be 16 to 26 feet at maturity.

common juniper medicinal tree

5. Eastern Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)

The eastern arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) is native to eastern Canada and the United States. It has become a popular decorative plant in many parts of the world. It takes on a conical shape and has delicate leaves.

Mature trees in the wild can grow to be 40 to 60 feet tall, but under cultivation, they are usually only 20 to 30 feet. In flattened sprays, the plant has fragrant, scale-like, yellow-green to green leaves.

Thuja occidentalis creates an excellent privacy screen when grown in a dense row. It works best when pruned regularly, but only minimum upkeep is required.

tall thujas eastern arborvitae plants as fences on a park

6. Highland Doghobble (Leucothoe fontanesiana)

The multi-stemmed, broadleaf, evergreen shrub Leucothoe fontanesiana has arching branches. Its natural habitats are damp forests, dense thickets, stream banks, and ravines.

White bell-shaped flowers bloom in the leaf axils from late April to June. Plants that get sunlight in the fall and winter will acquire a beautiful color.

Highland doghobble thrives in a forest or naturalized environment. It works well as a hedge, specimen, or accent plant in a native, pollinator, or winter garden.

7. Holly-Leaved Barberry (Mahonia aquifolium)

Mahonia is a lovely evergreen shrub with leaves that look like Christmas Holly. It can be cultivated individually or in large groups and grows to 4 to 5 feet.

The mature leaves are segmented into 3 to 9 parts, with little stubs at the tips. The juvenile leaves are bronze, shiny, and leathery.

Although they can withstand moderate shade, the leaves will stay dark green if grown in a semi-shaded area. Additionally, the attractive foliage is often harvested and used in floral arrangements.

yellow flowers of holly-leaved barberry

8. Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata)

Leatherleaf, a native evergreen plant, blooms in spring with tiny white bell-shaped flowers. It grows in bogs and other wetland areas, as well as in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. Birds and other organisms use this plant for nesting and shelter. 

Leatherleaf is a small shrub with a mound-like structure that can grow up to three feet tall. The alternating, leathery-looking leaves are elongated, oval, or elliptical. Older leaves are reddish copper on top and yellow on the other side. The foliage often turns red-brown in the winter.

leatherleaf cassandra tiny florets under the sun
Leila Haynes
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