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The Best Hedging Plants: Our Ultimate Guide (Part 1)

Best hedging plants - garden with swimming pool, hedges for privacy and ornamental shrubs

In this ultimate guide for choosing the best hedging plants, we’ve attempted to describe, and provide photos of different large and small hedges that may be suitable for your garden.  

Hedges are not only an attractive addition to your garden,  they also provide some very useful functions.  Take screening for example: hedges make great visual screens.   

They also help designate your property boundaries and act like growing fences.  If you can create a thick hedge it acts like a fence, keeping things in and keeping others out.  

Hedges are also great to look at, particularly flowering hedges, or hedges with changing foliage.   If you have a boundary that has an unsightly view then growing the right hedge will help improve the look and atmosphere of your property.  

Selecting the best hedging plants may be more involved than you realise.

When you are choosing plants for your hedge you should have a think about a number of factors.  An important issue is how tall you want the hedge to grow?  Many times people pick a hedge because it is quick growing, but this may also have the added disadvantage of needing regular pruning.  

You should also look into your soil type and climate, will the hedge plant grow in your area and how long with it live ? Also, most importantly, is the area in sun or shade ? We have listed a number of the best hedging plants that are suitable for sun and others that are suitable for shade, or semi-shade.  Have a scroll through our reviews and you may find a hedge plant that is suitable for your garden.

If you haven’t read it already you should also check out our introduction and tips to planting, establishing and growing garden hedges here. We also have a piece dedicated to Growing Metrosideros Hedging Plants.

Cape Plumbago hedge – Plumbago capensis

Plumbago is a fast growing shrub that can be grown as a hedge from 1m up to 3m tall. The foliage of Plumbago becomes compact after pruning and this makes it great for creating medium to tall hedges. It has been used as a hedge plant for many years in temperate and warm temperate gardens. Plumbago is commonly used in cottage and mixed gardens in rural and suburban regions.

There are a number of Plumbago varieties available from plant nurseries and garden centres. There are white, blue and dark blue flowering varieties. The flowering occurs most of the year in warmer climates. The Flowering can be quite attractive with the plant being covered with masses of flowers. One very popular variety is “Royal Cape” (pbr) which has darker blue flowers.

If you want a fast growing hedge, then Plumbago is one of the best hedging plants available. However, it has the drawback of requiring lots of pruning to keep it neat. That said, some gardeners prefer to let the foliage grow longer, and prune only once or twice a year.

Plumbago is quite a lush looking hedge when growing well. It is however very tough and water-wise once established. Best climates for growing Plumbago are temperate, warm temperate and mediterranean regions. Avoid areas with heavy frosts as the plant will drop leaf. Plumbago will grow in most soils, but heavy clay soils will slow growth somewhat. Good drainage is important. The best position in the garden is full sun, avoid shaded spots as shade will reduce foliage coverage.

To care for your Plumbago hedge plant the shrubs in a well drained soil and use organic planting mix. Use slow release fertiliser. Water the plants well for the first few months. Plumbago is drought tolerant, so once the roots have developed, it usually grows well on just natural rainfall. Plants will take a little while to settle in and then bang…off they go… and growth multiplies as the roots develop. Pruning can be done anytime in warm regions and in areas with cooler winters it is best done in spring or autumn.

Pests are not usually a problem for Plumbago. Fertilise once or twice a year if you want Plumbago to grow quickly. Fertilising can speed up growth substantially with this plant. Plumbago makes a good screen plant, but also has a tendency to grow fairly wide and bushy. Plumbago plants live many decades and seem to live longer when pruned regularly.

Cape Plumbago - one of the best hedging plants

Orange Jessamine -Murraya paniculata hedge

Murraya paniculata “Orange Jessamine” is one of the most popular hedges plants.  As a hedge it can be grown from 1m up to 3m tall.   It has lush green, thick foliage and masses of white flowers throughout the warmer months.  The flowers have a beautiful jasmine scent.  Murraya paniculata is one of the most cultivated garden shrubs in Australia and near the top of the list of best hedging plants.

Murraya can be grown into an excellent hedge or screen plant, from 1m up to 3m tall.  Once established it is surprisingly hardy for a subtropical plant.   Murraya will grow well in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Darwin, subtropical, Mediterranean and temperate regions.  

Murraya “Orange Jessamine” has upright bushy growth, which has made it very usefully as a tall screen plant.   Murraya will grow in most soils, which are well drained.  Organically rich soils are best.  Best positions in the garden are full sun,  however Murraya will grow well in semi-shade spots also.  

Under good conditions “Orange Jessamine” is a fast growing hedge plant.   Murraya can be shaped into a neat formal hedge or left to grow into an informal hedge or screen. 

To care for your Murraya paniculata,  plant with some organic planting mix and use slow release fertiliser.    It is important to stake this plant to help develop a good root system.   Pick a spot which is away from frosts.   Fertilise with a general purpose garden fertiliser in spring and autumn. 

Pruning can be done at any time of year,  in cooler regions it is best to do any hard pruning in spring or autumn.   Once your hedge is in shape, trim it regularly to create a neat formal shape.  

Pests are not a big problem for Murraya,  but they can be attacked by soil “Curl grubs” which eat the roots.  Aphids will also attack new growth in spring.   Murraya can potentially live for many decades.   

All of these factors make Murraya one of the best hedging plants for the home gardener.

Murraya paniculata “Min-a-min” dwarf low hedge

Murraya paniculata “Min-a-min” (pbr) is a dwarf form of the larger growing shrub Murraya paniculata, and like its cousin is one of the best hedging plants.  The foliage colour is light green and “Min-a-min” develops heaps of white perfumed flowers in summer.  Flowering tends to occur mainly during the warmer parts of the year. 

 “Min-a-min”  grows to around 60cm tall if left unpruned.   As a hedge it makes a nice low hedge from 25cm up to around 50cm tall.

Due to the low bushy growth of this shrub Murraya “Min-a-min” makes a great low hedge.  “Min-a-min” is also fairly low maintenance once established.  

However, it must be noted that this is a slow growing hedge that will take some patience to establish.  As a result, when planting this hedge it is usually worth planting shrubs closer together than normal.  This means that for very low hedges you will have a result quite quickly. 

Best soil types for Murraya paniculata “Min-a-min” are organically rich soils, loams, sandy loams and they can grow in sandy soils also.   Best light conditions are full sun, however this plant can also grow in semi-shade positions as well.  

Best climates are subtropical and warm temperate regions. 

Once this plant is established it is very easy care.   There do not seem to be many pest or disease problems with this little hedge plant.  Although “Min-a-min” is slow growing generally, it will grow faster and larger in subtropical climates.  

For other climates where it grows, it is important to apply fertiliser in spring and summer to increase growth.  Any general purpose garden fertiliser is fine, or use a liquid fertiliser every two weeks.   

Once you have grown this plant into a hedge it will be very rewarding as it will produce perfumed flowers in spring and summer. As an added bonus, the plants are low maintenance and live for many years.

Myrsine africana “African Box” hedge

Myrsine africana “African box” is a very versatile plant which can make hedges from as low as 20cm and right up to 3m tall The stems grow fairly upright and the small leaves and thin branches make it great for growing into hedges.   

Myrsine africana is one of the best hedging plants if you are wanting formal hedges which are pruned regularly.   “African box” creates very neat compact hedges and looks terrific in formal gardens.   “African box” hedges are suitable for pruning with a power trimmer.

Myrsine africana is used extensively in Mediterranean climates as it is very drought tolerant.   However, summer watering in these regions is best done to keep the plant looking at its best. 

“African box” will also grow in Temperate and Warm temperate climates where it grows very quickly when good water is available. Myrsine africana  will withstand light frosts in winter. 

The maximum growth periods are in spring and autumn and these are good times to do any hard pruning.   Regular trimming can be done at any time of year,  but normally growth drops off in winter, so not much trimming needs to be done at that time of year.   

In Temperate and warm temperate climates it may be better to grow this hedge above 60cm, as it can grow quickly in high natural rainfall.   “African box” will grow in most soils, sandy through to clays,  heavy clays will reduce growth.   Soil must be well drained for best growth.    

To care for your Mrysine africana “African box” hedge,  plant the shrubs with some good planting mix.  Use slow release fertiliser. 

It is important to stake these plants when planting.   Water plants well to establish a good root system.   Fertilise Myrsine africana with any general purpose garden fertiliser in spring or autumn.   Pests do not seem to be a problem for Mrysine Africana. 

Myrsine africana - one of the best hedging plants

Viburnum tinus hedge

Viburnum tinus is a hardy, low maintenance hedge.  Viburnum tinus can grow as a hedge from 50cm up all the way up to 3m tall.  Plants are evergreen and develop white flowers in winter and spring.   This plant makes an excellent hedge or screen plant.  Is a little slower growing compared to other Viburnums,  however it does not require as much pruning.  

Viburnum tinus is considered to be drought tolerant and grows best in Temperate, Warm temperate, Mediterranean and Subtropical climates.  Water and fertilise well to establish, after that Viburnum tinus will usually grow with little care.   

Like many of the best hedging plants, Viburnum tinus looks its best with regular pruning, however a prune twice a year minimum is suggested.  This shrub gets covered in white flowers if left unpruned and puts on a good floral display.  

In regard to pests, spider mite is usually the only major pest, however this normally only occurs if plant is grown in heavy shade.   Plants that are not thriving generally are attacked by pests,  so keep an eye out for any growth issues. 

Fertilise Viburnum tinus in spring to enhance growth.   Viburnum tinus is best suited to full sun, however it will also grow in semi-shade conditions.

To care for your Viburnum tinus plant it in a well drained soil with an organic planting mix.   Use a slow release fertiliser.  Stake plants in windy areas.  Water plants well to establish a good root system.  

Viburnum tinus will grow in most soil including sands, loams and well drained clays.   Heavy clays should be avoided if possible.  Good drainage is important.   Apply fertiliser in spring and autumn for optimum growth.  

Pruning can be done at any time of year,  but spring and autumn are the best times to do any hard pruning.    

Viburnum odoratissimum – Sweet viburnum hedge

Viburnum odoratissimum “Sweet viburnum” is a hardy, fast growing hedge plant. 

“Sweet viburnum” is suited to growing into hedges from 1.3m up to 3m tall.  Viburnum odoratissimum “Sweet viburnum” is a thick growing and evergreen shrub. 

White flowers develop in late winter and  spring.  “Sweet viburnum” is best suited to mild climates.  Viburnum odoratissimum will grow in temperate,warm temperate, Mediterranean and subtropical climates. 

Viburnum odoratissimum will withstand light frosts.  Sweet viburnum also makes an excellent screen plant, although it can grow wide and bushy if not pruned. 

In regard to care, plant your “Sweet viburnum” in a well drained soil, in an open sunny position.  

Plant with an organic planting mix and use slow release fertiliser.   Water well to establish a good root system.   Apply a general purpose garden fertiliser in spring, this will enhance growth considerably.   Viburnums thrive on liquid fertilisers also. 

Best soil types are loams,  however “Sweet viburnum” is quite an adaptable shrub and will grow in most soils, however avoid heavy clays.  Plants will live for 40 years plus under good conditions.  

This  Viburnum requires good watering to establish, however once established  these plants are reasonably drought tolerant.  Regular pruning is required around three times a year and more for a neat hedge.  Hard pruning is best done in spring after flowering.

Sweet Viburnum - one of the best hedging plants

Viburnum suspensum tall hedge

Viburnum suspensum is a large leaf style of hedge, suitable for various styles of garden, from cottage to tropical and contemporary.   It is hardy once established and evergreen, making it one of the best hedging plants on the market.  

Viburnum suspensum is suitable for taller style hedges over 1.5m.   Viburnum suspensum will grow to around 4m and makes an excellent screen plant.  

This Viburnum will grow in temperate, warm temperate to subtropical climates it will also grow in Mediterranean climates with extra summer watering.   It will tolerate light frosts.  

Viburnum suspensum grows thickly, a good prune once every three months will keep it looking nicely shaped.   Small white flowers develop in spring. 

Viburnum suspensum is an easy care and low maintenance plant and hedge.   It thrives on any general purpose NPK garden fertiliser.  The major growing period is in spring. Pruning can occur at any time of year,  however hard pruning is best done in spring or autumn. 

Best soil types are loams and sandy soils,  however it will grow in heavier soils which are well drained.   Plants will live for around 40 years in good conditions. 

Pest problems are minimal,  aphids can attack new growth in spring .  Plants will grow in semi-shade to full sun conditions.

Agonis flexuosa nana – Dwarf willow myrtle hedge

Agonis flexuosa “nana” is a hardy hedge once established.  The common name of this shrub is “Dwarf willow myrtle” and it is related to the larger growing Agonis “Weeping peppermint” a native tree of Western Australia.  

Agonis flexuosa “nana” plants are known for being tough under dry weather conditions.  They require little water once a good root system has developed.   Agonis flexuosa “nana” is suitable for growing into hedges from 80cm up to 2m tall.  

Agonis flexuosa “nana” is evergreen and has no flowers.  The “dwarf willow myrtle” develops attractive red growth in winter and spring.  Plants are long lived,  around 40 years.  

Water this plant well to establish.  Agonis flexuosa “nana” grow quickly under good conditions.   Agonis flexuosa “nana” will grow in temperate, warm temperate and Mediterranean climates.  

In regard to care, trimming is required around 3 times a year to look neat.   Regular trimming keeps wayward stems under control and maintains shape.  

“Dwarf willow myrtle” plants will develop a broad habit if left unpruned.  It should be noted that this shrub can develop very thick branches if left unpruned,  however, when pruned hard this plant usually responds by developing masses of new shoots. 

Heavy pruning is best done in early winter.  Agonis flexuosa “nana” plants do not require much fertiliser to grow well (if any) however, an application of general purpose garden fertiliser in late winter promotes fresh growth. 

“Spider mite” is the only major pest, however this usually develops in shade, so it is best to grow this variety in full sun.  Agonis flexuosa “nana” will grow in heavy clay soils, right through to sandy soils.  

Agonis flexuosa “nana” is not suited to areas with prolonged heavy frosts.   Water well to establish, as this plant will dry out very quickly in the early stages of growth. 

Incidentally, Agonis flexuosa is just one of a number of native Australian plants that can be cultivated in a home garden. See here to learn more.

Photinia “Red Robin” tall hedge plant

Photinia “Red Robin” is a very popular hedge plant.  Grown for its beautiful new red growth and the low maintenance habit, it is a striking addition to our best hedging plants rundown. 

Photinia “Red Robin” grows best in temperate and warm temperate regions.  It will also grow in subtropical and in Mediterranean regions.  This shrub is suitable for growing into hedges from 1.5m to 4m tall.   It makes an excellent screen plant.  

New red growth appears in late winter and also in spring.  However, in some areas red new growth develops all year round.   Photinia “Red Robin” is drought tolerant once established.  

If left unpruned this Photinia will develop attractive bunches of white flowers.   Photinia “Red Robin” is a fast growing hedge and will grow in most soils. 

In regard to care, plant “Red Robin” in a open sunny spot, in a well drained soil.   Plant with a good organic planting mix and use slow release fertiliser.   It is important to stake this plant when young.  To maintain a hedge shape Photinia “Red Robin”  usually requires pruning 3 times a year ,  however regular pruning (Eg once every two months) will keep the plant thick and bushy. 

“Red Robin” does not require much fertiliser, but the addition of some general purpose garden fertiliser in spring,  will increase growth substantially. 

The shrub can be a little slow to thicken up in early stages, however after about two years growth really takes off and can be quite quick growing. 

Photinia “Red Robin” seems to grow in almost any soil,  avoid areas of bad drainage.  Bad drainage seems to slow growth of this plant substantially. 

Plants will live for quite a long period, 50 years plus.  There do not seem to be to  many major pest problems with this variety, only aphids and the odd caterpillar. “Red Robin” grows best in full sun, however it will grow in semi-shade in warm climates.

Red Robin Photinia Bush - one of the best hedging plants

Raphiolepis “Spring time” hedge

Raphiolepis “Spring time” is a very tough and adaptable hedge plant.   The foliage is dark green, glossy and leathery.  

Best climates for this plant are temperate, warm temperate, mediterranean and subtropical climates.   It can withstand frosts and generally has no pest problems. 

This hedge plant is more suited to low wide hedges of around  l m in height.  Pretty, pink flowers develop in spring, however in some climates the plant will flower all year round.  Once established this plant is very drought tolerant, requiring basically no extra watering during the year, apart from natural rainfall. 

It does not require much in the way of pruning, once the correct shape of the hedge has been developed…. this plant keeps a hedge shape very well. 

In regard to care, pick an area with full sun to semi-shade.  Plant with a good organic planting mix and use slow release fertiliser.  

The major growth period for Raphiolepis is in spring and early summer. 

Do any hard pruning after flowering.  Plants can be pruned at any time of year, but if you prune just after flowering you will have flowers for the following season.  The addition of a general purpose garden fertiliser during spring will increase growth.  

Raphiolepis “Spring time” also grows well in coastal areas where strong salty winds prevent the growth of other plants. 

One drawback to this excellent hedge plant is its slow growth.  Unless the plant is fertilised well during the growth period in spring, it can takes many years to develop a good sized hedge.   Plant live around 25 years and longer.

Aphiolepis, “Indian Hawthorn” medium hedge

Raphiolepis “Indian hawthorn” is an long lived shrub that makes an excellent hedge.   Indian Hawthorn grows to around 3m, with a width of around 2m.   Most Indian hawthorn shrubs are kept as hedges at around 2m and around 80cm wide, however they can grown into larger hedges and visual screens. 

“Indian hawthorn” have large, leathery, glossy leaves and the shrubs grow thickly making them great for hedges.  “Indian hawthorn” will grow in a variety of soils from clays to sandy soils, however best soil types are loams. 

Raphiolepis is best suited to temperate, warm temperate and subtropical climates, however it will also grow in Mediterranean and cool temperate regions.  “Indian hawthorn” has a particularly long flowering in late winter and spring.  

Plants produce masses of white flowers, which stay on the plant for an extended period.  If you wish to have lots of flowers, prune in autumn, to give the plant time to develop buds for spring. 

Generally “Indian hawthorn” hedges do not require a great deal of  pruning once established.  But a good prune twice a year being sufficient to maintain a good hedge shape. 

Raphiolepis is a very hardy, low care hedge, with no major pest issues.  This plant has tolerance to coastal conditions and salty soils.  Raphiolepis “India hawthorn” is considered drought tolerant and is tolerant of moderate frosts. 

The major drawback to the Raphiolepis group of plants is that they can be slow growing in the early stages.  Plant with a good quality planting mix and use slow release fertiliser. 

Growth of “Indian hawthorn” can be increased in spring with the addition of a general purpose garden fertiliser.  The main growth period for Raphiolepis is in spring and early summer.  Plants have excellent life expectancy and will live to around 60 years.

Escallonia medium sized hedge

Escallonia is a group of plants growing from small to medium sized shrubs.  The taller ones are commonly recognised as one of the best hedging plants and are also popular for screening. 

They grow quickly and develop white or pink flowers depending on variety.  The stems are upright and most plants grow to around 2 mtrs tall and around 1.5 m wide.  As a hedge they can be kept easily around the 1.5 to 2 m height, with a width of around 1m. 

Escallonia shrubs grow best in temperate and warm temperate climates and are not suited to areas with extended winters or heavy frosts. They are surprisingly hardy shrubs and can be considered drought tolerant once established.  

Escallonia can grow in a variety of soils types, from clays to sandy soils, but grow best in loams.  Water well to establish.  Once they have developed a good root system Escallonia plants usually low maintenance. 

Plants grow quickly with good fertilising,  any general purpose garden fertiliser will suit Escallonia.    The foliage of Escallonia is a glossy green and flowers develop in late winter and flowering continues into summer,  in some areas longer. 

To maintain a good hedge shape trim Escallonia every two months.  Pests are not usually a problem Escallonia, although soil borne “curl grubs” can damage roots.  Escallonia hedge plants live as a hedge for around 25 years.

To care for your Escallonia hedge,  plant into a good well drained soil.   Use a organic planting mix and slow release fertiliser.  

Stake plants in windy areas.   Water plants well to establish.  

Pruning can occur any time of year, but hard pruning is best done after flowering.  Fertilise in spring or autumn for increased growth. 

A bee taking nectar from escallonia flowers - one of the best hedging plants

“Japanese box” hedge – Buxus japonica

Buxus “Japanese box” is an excellent hedging plant for low to medium sized hedges.  Most “Japanese box” hedges are grown to around 50cm tall, although larger hedges up to 1.5 m can be grown (given some years).

“Japanese box” does not have showy flowers, but it has glossy lime green foliage that stands out in the garden.  Best soil type is a loam, however they will also grow in sandy soils.  Plants will grow in heavy soil, but growth will be slower. 

“Japanese box” grows at good pace, not too fast or too slow, which makes it an easy care plant to form a hedge.   For a neat formal hedge shape, prune every 6 weeks.

“Japanese box” grows well in semi-shade to full sun conditions.  It is suitable to grow in temperate, warm temperate, mediterranean (with summer watering) and subtropical climates.  It will also grow in cool temperate regions, but growth is somewhat slower.

“Japanese box” is not suited to areas with heavy frosts.  “Japanese box” grows thickly and is suited to low hedges, it is superior to English box in many ways, particularly in the growth department.  

“Japanese box” plants are reasonably hardy, but usually do not withstand extended droughts. 

The secret to growing a good low hedge with “Japanese box” is to use enough plants when planting the hedge.  To develop a hedge of around 40cm high, plants should be planted around 20cm apart (or closer if possible). 

“Japanese box” is not suited to areas with salty coastal winds.  Plants will live around 25 years.

To care for your Buxus “Japanese box” hedge plants,  plant them in a good well drained soil in a sunny position.   Plant using a good organic planting mix and use slow release fertiliser.   Water well to establish a good root system. 

“Japanese box” can grow quite quickly in spring and autumn with a small dose of general purpose garden fertiliser.   Good foliage colour is developed by using fertiliser in spring or autumn or use liquid fertilisers periodically throughout the year.

Aphids can be a problem pest in spring, but are easily controlled. 

This is Part 1 of our in-depth article into the Best Hedging Plants. The next article can be read here. Please see below for the additional posts.

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