Hedge Plants and Their Uses

Southern California plant nursery specializing in hedge plants and their uses.

Hedge plants come in an array of options. Those range from the linear and traditional hedge plants such as boxwoods, to the organic nature of beech trees. A hedge is simply a line of plants grown to accomplish the desired effect. In formal gardens, hedges define boundaries, create lines and patterns that enhance the garden or isolate and show off the plants that grow there. In non-formal settings, hedges have other uses, such as blocking eyesores, creating privacy, as windscreens, or providing shade. Inside, discuss some purposes for hedge plants, the plants themselves, and how to grow them. 

What Makes A Good Hedge Plant? 

The right hedge plant is all about the job it does. Boxwoods make excellent hedge plants when the job needed is to define walkways, create linear effects, or go help emphasize and show off garden plants. A row of crab apple trees become an excellent and beautiful way to hide your neighbor’s shed. The most significant characteristic of a hedge plant is that it grows uniformly. Another is that the plant is easy to shape or train. 

  • Boxwoods 
  • Fruit Trees
  • Privet Trees
  • Wax Myrtle
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Coyote Bush

In fact, there is a very long list of plants that make lovely hedges and that also thrive in Southern California plant zones. Keep reading as we discuss a few of those plants and the outdoor living and landscaping problems they help solve. 

1.  Wax Myrtle – These large shrubs are easy to shape, and they make lovely screening hedges, especially for patios, decks, and garden structures. Due to their height and shape, they are perfect for hiding eyesores, and their uses include windscreens. Wax Merytles grow well to hardiness zone 9 and are quite happy in coastal regions. 

Planting Wax Myrtle Trees – These evergreen shrubs will grow in full sun or partial shade. The soil preference for these shrubs is moist soil. Southern California soil can be dry so amend the area with compost or wetting soil such as FoxFarm Salamander soil. Note: The root ball on wax myrtle shrubs does not like soil disturbances. The shrubs produce prolific suckers which will require trimming if the roots are disturbed. 

2.  Coyote Bush – A member of the Chaparral group of plants. The rounded shape and beautiful leaves are second only to their prolific blossoms that cover the canopy. These shrubs are easy to grow, and they love the coastal lowland areas. Their root structure is dense, so if one of the problems you try to solve is preventing erosion, these plants make a great choice. 

Coyote Bush is suitable for low hedges with uses similar to boxwood. They are not as adaptable as boxwoods are to shaping, but they tolerate full sun where boxwoods prefer afternoon shade. 

Planting Coyote Bush – These are one of the native plants and grow quite well in Southern California soil. You find them in a variety of locations from open meadows to crowing lower hilltops. In terms of soil, they like coarser soils over sandy loams. They are very drought-tolerant plants that love full sun and will do well with low water cycles once established. Prune in the spring after the onset of growth. 

3.  Butterfly Bush – A beautiful addition to yards, the butterfly bush is easy to grow. They do well in zones 9-10 and will tolerate winter temperatures that drop below freezing. The trick to maintaining beautiful blooms each year is to cut back last year’s bloom branches. The flowers only appear on new growth, so always trim in winter before the spring growth cycle. If pruned properly, you can expect blooms from early summer through late fall. A healthy mature plant may reach 15 feet in height and spread 15 feet in width. They are best pruned in winter after the last blooms have died. 

Butterfly bushes make beautiful, tall hedges, and they grow quickly. They are perfect for blocking eyesores and as a tool to add more privacy along fence lines, patios, and decks. 

Planting Butterfly Bush – These shrubs need full sun. They thrive in soil that is well-drained and very lush. A good tip for growing butterfly bush is to add a lot of compost to the planting hole before placing the plant. 

4.  Privet Trees – A few varieties grow well in Southern California. The beautiful thing about privets is that they take some abuse so long as they have water during the hot part of summer. They like a mix of soils that drain but also hold water. The Florida Privet and the Texas Privet are both excellent choices for Southern California climates. 

Privets can grow to 30+ feet in height, and they are lovely as tools that increase privacy. Due to their height, they can also be excellent shade plants. 

5.  Boxwood – A classic hedge plant, boxwoods are easy to grow. They love well-drained soil that is not compact. Boxwoods do well in full sun but will thrive in afternoon shade, especially when it is hot outside. Few plants handle the shearing and shaping of a hedge. These shrubs grow to 15 feet or higher but are easy to keep short, by hedging the top. 

Boxwoods are wonderful hedge plants for creating privacy, defining walkways, and as linear structures in a garden. 

The trees and shrubs outlined in this blog offer a range of uses. Some, like the butterfly bush, attract hummingbirds and butterflies to your yard. Many bloom, and in the case of wax myrtle trees, produce aromatic flowers and berries that are wonderful for wild birds. The fact that there are so many additional choices for hedges means that Green Thumb Nursery has or can order the perfect plant for your hedging projects. Be sure to stop by one of the nurseries and ask our experts about plant options, growing conditions, and products that will help your hedge thrive. 

Please keep in mind that our inventory changes each day, and some items sell out quickly. For that reason, you are welcome to call us to check on the availability of special products, visit us online, or stop by and shop. Our plant and landscaping experts are always happy to answer your questions.


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