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The Best Hedging Plants : Our Ultimate Guide (Part 2)

Best hedging plants - a gazebo surrounded by hedging in a garden

Before we tackle Part 2 of this guide to the best hedging plants, you may be interested in our piece on Growing Metrosideros Hedging Plants.

Coprosma varigated Mirror Bush medium hedge

Opening our look at the best hedging plants we have the Coprosma variegated, also called Mirror Bush. This is an unusual hedging plant, but one that can find a place in the right garden.  It has glossy white and green leaves and a bushy habit. 

This plant has no flowers and is grown mainly for its low maintenance nature and unusual colour.  In fact this plant can lift the atmosphere of a garden considerably due to its bright foliage – one reason why it remains one of the best hedging plants.

It is mostly suited to medium hedges up to 1.5m with a with a width of around 80cm.   Speed of growth is moderate, but can be increased with the use of a general purpose fertiliser in spring and autumn.

Coprosma is an adaptable plant, growing in sandy soils, in windy coastal conditions or inland in frost free positions. 

Coprosma plants are considered to be drought tolerant once established.  Coprosma plants grow best in full sun, however this variegated variety grows well in semi-shade also. 

After the plant has been pruned into shape, it is best to leave it and let it develop some foliage.  Coprosma looks much better as a bushy hedge and is not suited to constant pruning.  

Coprosma has no major pests and is generally a very low maintenance plant.  Plants live for around 25 years and longer. 

Erigerion daisy “Seaside daisy” low hedge

Moving on with our best hedging plants, we have the Erigeron daisy is a small ground-cover like plant which spreads quickly

The plant makes a colourful low hedge when kept within boarders.  It is a great plant to grow along a retaining wall or up a driveway, as a boarder.   Erigeron is a very quick growing plant and at times will self-seed around the garden. 

Plants grow to around 25cm tall and develop white, brown and pink flowers all on the same plant.  Erigeron daisy flowers most of the year and adds a easy care, colourful addition to cottage and formal style gardens.

Erigeron daisy plants grow best in warm temperate climates and will withstand light frosts. 

Erigeron daisy will grow in sandy through to clay soils and are generally a very hardy plant.  The plant will withstand extended periods without water, once established.  A good prune now and then will keep your daisy hedge in shape, and increase blooms. 

Fertilising is generally not required for this plant, however using a general purpose garden fertiliser in spring will increase growth substantially.  Plants grow best in full sun, however they will also grow in semi-shade conditions.  

These plants have few pests, however slugs and snails can be a problem now and then.  

As Erigeron likes to spread it is best to keep plants within boarders or regularly dig along edges, to keep the plant under control.   Plants live for around 5 years.

White 'seaside daisies' - one of the best hedging plants

Hibiscus plant hedge, Hibiscus flowering hedges

Hibiscus plants have been used as hedge plants for many years. Due to the extensive range of plant sizes and flower types Hibiscus has become a popular hedge plant for warm temperate and tropical areas. 

Many varieties will also grow well in temperate and even Mediterranean regions (with sufficient water in summer).  Hibiscus plants generally have broad glossy leaves and growing habits from broad and bushy, to tall and upright. 

There are dwarf varieties of around 1m tall like “Thumbelina”, to medium sized shrubs of around 2 to 3m like “Mrs George Davis”, and even small trees, like Hibiscus tiliaecus “Rubra”. 

Hibiscus are generally evergreen, however in cooler climates they can lose many of their leaves in winter.  So, in the right climate they will remain evergreen making them an excellent screen plant. 

If you find that your evergreen Hibiscus is losing leaves, it could be a result of weather conditions.  Other issues that effect their growth is pest attack, lack of drainage and soil borne pests like soil grubs.  If you live in a cooler climate you may like to select deciduous varieties like “Rose of Sharon” small deciduous tree. 

All Hibiscus will be affected by heavy frosts.  If  Hibiscus only experience light frosts they usually recover quickly in spring. 

Generally speaking most varieties flower in spring, summer and autumn, however in warm climates many varieties will flower all year round. 

The best soil types for Hibiscus are loams, organic soils and sandy soils.  Hibiscus do no grow well in clays. Avoid soils which do not drain well. 

Hibiscus require fertilising to maintain vigorous growth, any general purpose garden fertiliser can be used, organic fertilisers are also good, the addition of cow or sheep manure will also assist in growth. 

If you require a neat hedge, Hibiscus can be pruned regularly during the growing season, however they are mostly grown as a screen plant or informal hedge.

Hibiscus are a great hedge plant if you want to make a tropical-style garden.  But, make sure you do some research so you get the best variety for your block size and then Hibiscus will be a rewarding hedge 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.

Coprosma repens coastal salt tolerant hedge

If you live on the coast and you need a hardy hedge that can withstand salty sea winds Coprosma repens could be the right plant for your garden. 

Coprosma repens is known as a drought tolerant and salt tolerant garden shrub. It has large dark green, glossy leaves and grows quite thickly.

Most hedges grown from Coprosma repens are grown to around 1m, however it can be grown to around 2m under good conditions.  Coprosma repens plants are easy to establish as they do not need much water once plants are established. 

The best soils to grow Coprosma are sandy soil, however Coprosma is an adaptable plant and even in heavier clay soils they will grow.  They do not grow well with bad drainage, Coprosma preferring well drained soils. 

Full sun positions are best.  Coprosmas can be pruned into neat hedges,  however they are better grown as an informal bushy hedge.

In regards to care, Coprosma repens is a very low maintenance plant and does not generally get any pests, although snails can do damage in the early stages.  Fertilisers are not generally required for these plants,  however the application of some general purpose garden fertiliser will enhance growth.  

Coprosma repens shrubs can usually survive with only natural rainfall, although it is suggested that you water them well after planting to establish a good root system.  

Camellia sasanqua tall flowering hedge plant

Camellia sasanqua plants make excellent hedge plants.  Like many of the best hedging plants, they are perfect for a specific purpose. In this case, they tend to be tall and thin in the early stages which makes them easy to fit into tight spots, or gardens will little space. 

Camellia sasanqua plants have dark green leaves with attractive flowers in autumn and early winter.  There are many different varieties with various flower colours and shapes.  Generally most Camellia sasanqua grow from around 2 to 3 metres tall.  There are also a number of dwarf varieties such as “Yultide” which only grows to around 1.5m.    

Camellia sasanqua grow best in temperate and warm temperate areas, however they will also grow in cool temperate areas, although a little slower growing.  Camellias can withstand some frost, but in areas with heavy frosts, plants will get frost burn. 

Once established Camellia sasanqua are easy plants to maintain and do not have many pest problems.  These 2 factors clearly place them amongst the best hedging plants.

Camellia sasanqua grow best in full sun, however do very well in part-shade areas where other hedge plants will not grow.  So, if you are searching for a hedge plant for a shady spot then have a look at Camellia sasanqua. 

One drawback to a Camellia sasanqua hedge is that they are considered a little slow growing in the early stage,  however, if fertiliser is applied at the right time of year (usually in spring) and watered well, growth can be increased. 

One benefit to growing Camellia sasanqua is that they tend to grow tall and thin in the early stages, giving you some initial screening.   Most camellia sasanqua plants sold in an 8″ pots (200mm) in retail nurseries can be as tall as 5ft and taller.

Camellia sasanqua plants need a well drained soil to grow best,  loams are best, however they will also grow in sandy soils (with organic matter).  In heavier clay soils they will grow, but tend to be much slower in growth.  Also avoid areas which have drainage problems. 

Fertilise with organic fertilisers or granular Azalea/Camellia fertilisers during the growing season, mainly in spring and early summer.  In some areas they also continue to grow into autumn. 

Soil pH is important when growing camellia plants,  an acid soil is preferred for good growth (Eg a pH of around 5 to 6).

Pruning is best done after flowering, however pruning can also be done during the growing season till about mid summer.  You can continue to prune into autumn, but if you want lots of flowers, best to let the plants have some time to develop flower buds in late summer. 

Camellia hedges can live a long time, often over 50 years.  

Red Sasnqua Camellia - one of the best hedging plants

Korean box, dwarf, small & low hedge plant

Moving on with our list of the best hedging plants, we have the Korean box.

If you are searching for a tiny, low growing dwarf hedge, you can not go past Korean box (Buxus microphylla x microphylla). 

The plant has very small leaves and can be kept as low as 15cm high.  It is also very easy to prune and keeps a hedge shape very well. 

The main drawback to this plant is that it is slow growing, and even with extra care, it still takes ages to form in to a hedge.  So, it is better to buy this plant in a more advanced size (eg in 6′ or 140mm pots).   Some nurseries also sell it in instant hedge bags, all you have to do is plant!.

Korean box grows best in full sun, but it will also grow in semi-shade quite well.  It is best suited to temperate, warm temperate and subtropical regions,  however it will also grow well mediterranean climates. 

Buxus plants tend to require regular applications of fertiliser,  this is especially true of this dwarf variety.  The leaves can go a little yellow in colour if fertiliser is no applied at least once a year.   

Use any general purpose garden fertiliser and the best time to fertilise is in spring and autumn.  Liquid fertilisers will also increase the growth of this plant and will help green-up leaves. 

Care of Buxus microphylla x microphylla: Although this plant will grow in hot areas, it is not really suited to very dry climates,  unless it can be regularly watered.  The little plants tend to get a bit stressed in extreme dry heat as they have roots that are close to the surface. 

However,  in the right climate they can look fantastic as a hedge and can also live many years.  Korean box grows best in well drained soils,  that stay moist, but not saturated.   

The addition of organic matter (eg compost or cow manure) at planting will increase moisture retention and assist the growth of the plant greatly.

Camellia Japonica, Camellia flowering hedge plant

Camellia japonica plants make great hedges for shaded spots in warm temperate and temperate regions.  This plant can also grow in full sun in some areas. 

It can be hard to find an attractive hedge to grow in areas under trees or shaded by buildings, but this is one that is both attractive and long lived. 

The biggest drawback to using this plant, is its slow growth in the early stages. However if you provide the right soil conditions and fertilise annually with Azalea/Camellia fertiliser or liquid fertilisers, you can increase growth substantially. 

Camellia japonica hedges tend to be bushy hedges, however they can also grow to around 3 metres (after many years).  Most Camellia japonica hedges are around 2 metres in height, they can however be kept as low as 1m. 

Camellia japonica plants have large dark green leaves with attractive flowers in winter in temperate climates.  There are many different varieties with various flower colours and shapes.  

Camellia japonica grow best in temperate and warm temperate areas, however they will also grow in cool temperate areas, although a little slower growing.  Camellias can take some frost, but in areas with heavy frosts, plants will get frost burn. 

Once established they are easy plants to maintain and do not have many pest problems.  Camellia japonica plants need a well drained soil to grow best,  sandy loams are best, but they will also grow in sandy soils (with organic matter). 

In heavier clay soils they will grow, however growth tends to be slower.  Also avoid areas which have drainage problems. 

In regard to care,  fertilise with organic fertilisers or granular Azalea & Camellia fertilisers during the growing season, mainly in spring and early summer.  In some areas they also continue to grow into autumn.  Soil pH is important when growing camellia plants,  an acid soil is preferred (Eg a pH of around 5 to 6).  

Pruning is best done after flowering.  Pruning can also be done during the growing season till about mid summer.  You can continue to prune into autumn, however if you want lots of flowers, best to let the plants have some time to develop flower buds in late summer. 

Camellia hedges can live for many years, many times over 50 years plus. 

Japanese camellia, Camellia Japonica - one of the best hedging plants

Euonymus “Tom thumb” low and small hedge plant

Next up in our best hedging plants run-through is Euonymous “Tom Thumb”.

Euonymus “Tom Thumb” is the unusual name of a great little plant for making low hedges.  Naturally the plant grows into a shrub that grows to around 60cm, however it can be used to make great small hedges as low as 15cm. 

The plant has thick, tiny leaves on multitudes of branches, which makes it excellent for creating neat, compact hedges.  “Tom Thumb” comes from a genus of plants called Euonymus, which are plants known for their hardy, low maintenance nature. 

“Tom Thumb” is a hardy little plant but, we have found in hot dry climates, with little rain, it does struggle.  However, for temperate, warm temperate and subtropical climates with good soil moisture it thrives. 

Care of Euonymus “Tom Thumb:  “Euonymus “Tom Thumb” plants grow best in well drained loams, however they will also grow well  in sandy and even heavier soils. 

The great thing about “Tom Thumb” is that it maintains its foliage colour even when fertiliser has not been applied.  It stays an attractive emerald green colour year round. 

This shrub can be a bit slow growing at times, however growth can be improved by the use of a general purpose garden fertiliser in the warmer parts of the year.  Liquid fertilisers give the best results which can be applied periodically through out the year.

 Due to the upright nature of the stems of this plant, it is advisable to plant “Tom Thumb” plants a little closer then normal.  This will mean that the stems will knit nicely to form a full hedge without gaps.  “Tom Thumb” makes an attractive hedge in full sun to semi-shade conditions.  

“Tom thumb” generally is used for very low hedges of around 15cm high, but makes a nice hedge of around 40cm after a few years growth.

Azalea plants for low to tall flowering hedge

Azalea plants have been used as hedges as long as man has been developing ornamental gardens, going back to ancient times in China.  They are fantastically beautiful plants when in flower, and this is only enhanced when they are grown as a hedge.

Azalea plants are best grown in temperate and warm temperate climates.  The evergreen varieties can withstand cool weather in winter, however many evergreen varieties will burn if touched by snow or heavy frost. 

There are deciduous varieties better suited to cold winter climates, which flower just as well.  There are hundreds of evergreen varieties and some are better then others for use as a hedge. 

There are varieties that grow to 1 foot, 30cm and others that grow as tall as 2 m or 8 feet.  Most evergreen varieties will flower in autumn through to the end of spring, depending on the variety chosen.

Some Azaleas will live around 15 years and other will live 30 years or more. The best soil for azaleas is a well drained, acid soil with good organic matter.  Good soil is important for azaleas, especially pH which should be around the 5 mark.  

However, azaleas will grow in all sorts of soils, with varying degrees of success.  Picking the right Azalea variety is most important, so pick a variety which suits your climate and soil. 

In regard to care, pruning is best done after flowering, but generally speaking spring time is a good period to prune as new growth will develop quickly reducing the potential for dead stems. 

With regard to pests, there are a number which have had a drastic affect on Azalea sales in various regions.  The major pests are insects generally call “Spider Mite” and other called “Azalea lace wings”. 

Both these pests do similar damage to the underside of the leaf, leaving little white dead spots (dots) on the upper surface of the leaf, which cover the whole plant. These pests are generally active in the cooler periods of the year. 

There are biological controls being developed, however generally we are left with spraying the plants to control the pest.   This has meant that Azaleas are being used less and less as a garden plant.  However, you may be lucky and live in an area where these pests do not exist.   

When picking Azaleas for your hedge consult your local nursery on the best variety for your area….because Azaleas make a lovely flowering hedge.

English box hedge, buxus sempervirens

English box is one of the most prolific hedge plants around the world and so an obvious choice for our best hedging plants guide.

It has small green leaves and lots of branches, which make it a great hedging plant. 

Plants can also live may years in the right climate.  English box (Buxus sempervirens) can be used to create hedges from 40cm (2 feet) up to 2 m.  It creates a very thick growing hedge which is difficult for people or large animals to get through, as a result it can double as a fence. 

English box is best suited to cool climates, with good water and cool summers.  Although it grows in temperate and warm temperate areas it can stress under hot dry summer conditions, plants can lose vigour (leaves yellow off, growth slows and plant becomes woody). 

However, if you can water and apply fertiliser regularly during summer you can overcome most of these issues.  In regard to soils English Box is not too fussy, however, really sandy soils and heavy clays will reduce growth.  

One advantage to English box is that it is very easy to prune and does not require a lot of pruning.  Pruning is best done when the plant is actively growing in spring through to autumn.  

Any general purpose garden fertiliser is suitable for English box, given during the growing season.  Plants can grow quickly under good conditions.

Buxus Sempervirens Boxwood - one of the best hedging plants.

Aucuba “Gold dust plant” hedge for shaded areas

Aucuba japonica varegata “Gold dust plant” has been used many years as a patio, indoor and shade plant.  However, it is also one of the best hedging plants in very shady spots where other hedge plants will not grow.  

If you have a garden which faces away from summer sun or a very shady spot under trees Aucuba “Gold dust plant” may be the solution.  Plants can be easily grown and shaped into hedges from around 1m up to around 1.60 m.

Aucuba “Gold dust plant” generally does not have many pest problems and is easy care. 

Plants have large green and gold leaves and many stems.  Hedging and pruning can be done almost any time of year, but is best done during the growing season. 

Aucuba “Gold dust plants” will grow in subtropical, warm temperate and temperate regions.  They can be effected by frosts, so pick a spot with some overhead protection (under a roof line, or under trees). 

“Gold dust plants” like moist soils, so keep the soil moist during summer.   Well drained organically enriched soils are best.

Aucuba “Gold dust plants” can live quite a few years and generally past 20 years.  These adaptable plants will withstand short periods of sun exposure during the day.  However, exposure to sun all day tends to reduce the vigour of this plant.  One great advantages of the Aucuba “Gold dust” is that in the right conditions it will grow quickly during the growing season.

Port wine magnolia hedge – Michelia figo

“Port wine” Magnolia is a popular garden shrub that makes an excellent hedge.  “Port wine” Magnolia (Michelia figo ) has glossy leaves and perfumed flowers in spring.  The perfume of the flowers is reminiscent of jasmine. 

Flowering occurs over a long period and flowers are borne between stems.  As a result of this, hedging (pruning) does not effect flower development to any large extent.  So, if you are looking for a hedge with a perfumed flower this may be a good choice. 

“Port wine” Magnolia is an evergreen shrub that can naturally grow to a height of around 3m, however it can be kept as a hedge from around 1.2m to 2m tall.  “Port wine” Magnolia plants grow best in temperate and warm temperate and subtropical regions.

In regard to care, the best soils for “Port wine” Magnolia plants are organically rich, well drained acid soils,  however they will grow in heavy soils and even sands (with some soil improvement).   

Full sun conditions are preferred, however this plant will grow in semi-shade conditions.  Plants live for a very long time, around 50 years in good conditions. 

“Port wines” can grow quickly in spring with the addition of fertilisers.  Any general purpose garden fertiliser is suitable, however in some soils the use of Azalea/Camellia fertiliser may be required to green up leaves. 

If you require a taller hedge (2m plus) you may like to purchase advanced plants, as it could take many years using small pot sizes.  Using a seaweed based soil tonic plus a liquid fertiliser, will speed up growth in most situations.

Duranta repens medium to tall hedge plants

Duranta repens is a quick growing shrub that can be used to make an attractive hedge.  Duranta repens is particularly hardy and can grow in a wide variety of soils.  Plants have small dark green leaves and branching stems, which makes Duranta repens great for low to medium hedges from around 1m to 2m. 

Duranta plants develop flowers in spring and summer,  followed by small yellow berries. 

Newer varieties have been developed, which make even better hedges.  Some of the newer varieties are: “Geisha Girl” (flowers well and grows to around 2.5m) “China Girl” (also has attractive flowers and to around 2.5m) “Sheena’s Gold” and “Aussie 2000 pbr” (both of these varieties have striking golden foliage and are great for lower hedges). 

Flowering of both “Geisha Girl” and “China Girl” can be quite spectacular and starts in spring continuing to early autumn, in most warm climates. If you are familiar with these, you’ll understand why they are amongst the best hedging plants. 

Duranta plants grow best in temperate, warm temperate and subtropical climates.  In cooler climates where winters are cold and frosty,  plants will tend to lose leaf, to some extent.  Plants usually recover well once warm weather begins.  Full sun to semi-shade situations are generally best for Duranta plants.

Plants can grow quickly if fertiliser is applied during the growing season (most of the warm part of the year).  Duranta plants are generally drought tolerant once established.  

Pests are not generally a major issue with Duranta plant varieties.

This is Part 2 of our in-depth article into the Best Hedging Plants. Please see below for the other Parts.

RELATED:

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

The Best Hedging Plants: Our Ultimate Guide (Part 3)

The Best Hedging Plants: Our Ultimate Guide (Part 4)

The Best Hedging Plants: Our Ultimate Guide (Part 5)

The Best Hedging Plants: Our Ultimate Guide (Part 6)

The Best Hedging Plants: Our Ultimate Guide (Part 7)

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