Evergreen Edible Plants for your Landscape
- Pineapple Guava: This easy-to-grow edible plant has an upright branching form, making it a beautiful hedge plant or small ornamental tree for the landscape. While it doesn’t always reliably produce fruit here in North Carolina, it has fancy white and red flowers that are totally edible and can be added into salads, smoothies, or as a fancy garnish for desserts and cocktails. It does best in full sun and should be watered at least once per week. It can be easily trained to the height and shape you prefer through regular pruning, but if left unpruned it can reach up to 15 feet high.
- Loquat: For an early-season harvest, this small evergreen tree is a real standout. Generally, if we have a mild winter here in Greenville, the loquat will produce sweet, golden oval fruits about the size of a small kiwi in spring. The flesh of the fruit is tangy and sweet, similar to the peach. Strangely, this ornamental edible plant produces its flowers later in the season in autumn after the fruit has already been produced. The white blossoms grow in clustered panicles, producing a strong, sweet scent that will fill your yard with a sensational aroma.
- Bay Leaf Tree: For something a little more savory, the bay leaf tree is a great pick. While it’s technically a tree, it develops more like a shrub and can be trained into your preferred growing habit. Usually, it reached 10-12 feet high at maturity. The best part about this evergreen tree is since the leaves are always fresh and green, they’re always ready for harvest, so you can enjoy this fragrant culinary herb all year round. Toss a few into soups and stews for that comforting, nostalgic aroma that takes you back to Sunday dinners at Grandma’s house.
- Rosemary: There are many different cultivars of rosemary that reach different heights and spreads, so whether you want a low, dense groundcover for filling in patches in the garden, or if you’d like something taller and shrubbier for foundation planting, there’s bound to be a rosemary variety that suits your tastes. If you live along the coast, rosemary makes a fabulous landscape plant as it’s quite tolerant of ocean salt spray. It grows best in soils with a pH between 6 and 7, and it loves full sun and well-draining soil. The delicious sprigs can be used in an endless variety of savory meals like roast chicken and pasta, but you can also get creative with sweet rosemary glazes for desserts and baking.
- Lingonberry: A little smaller than your typical shrub, this colorful evergreen typically doesn’t exceed 18 inches high, so it makes a nice edging plant for paths, or around taller plants and ornamental grasses. Its small, waxy green leaves maintain color all year, but new growth is often tinted with a bit of red, adding some dimension and interest. In the fall it produces juicy red berries similar to the cranberry, and its clusters of tiny flowers are a lovely soft pink shade. A layer of mulch will help to keep weeds away from the base of your lingonberry hedge— they tend to hog all the soil nutrients, so you’ll want to stay on top of pulling those out.
- Evergreen Huckleberry: This shaggy shrub has the prettiest little bunches of pink, bell-shaped flowers that appear in April. In late summer, it produces dark purple berries that can be used in all sorts of recipes, but they’re particularly delicious in muffins and cakes. During spring and summer, the bright green leaves have some red-tipped new growth, but in the wintertime, they take on a purplish bronze tint that’s equally stunning.
Other Popular Edible Plants for Foodscaping
- Figs: Easy to grow, and very few pest problems, these fruit-bearing edible plants are a must-have. They’re also parthenocarpic, meaning they don’t need pollinators to produce their tasty fruits. There are both fig trees and bushes available, depending on what kind of landscape accent you’re looking for. A little bit of pruning goes a long way with figs, so do a quick once-over in late winter before the new spring growth begins. While figs are quite sweet, they make a fabulous pairing with savory cheeses and meats, so if you’re big into charcuterie boards, you’ll definitely want to include some fig plants in your landscape design.
- Blueberries: With so many different varieties in all different sizes, there’s a blueberry bush for every landscape. They’re particularly lovely when interspersed with other hedges for foundation planting. In spring they produce really pretty flowers, and once summer hits the berries are non-stop. Did you know one blueberry bush can produce up to 20 pounds of blueberries in a single season? Considering blueberries are $4 a pint at the supermarket, that’s a pretty huge cost savings.
- Mulberries: This is another low-maintenance, low-pest plant that grows in either shrub or tree form. The trees are moderately-sized, reaching between 35-50 feet at maturity, and its jewel-toned emerald leaves are quite attractive. One thing to keep in mind when planting mulberry plants is that their berries can get a little messy, so if you want to avoid staining your home’s siding, the pavement, or your car, find a spot for these edible plants with a bit of extra elbow room all around.
Foodscaping might sound like nothing more than the latest garden fad, but we think it’s a worthwhile investment. If you’re already going to the effort of beautifying your landscape with decorative hedges and trees, why not get some more bang for your buck and get some fresh food out of the deal? You’ll love the steady supply of berries, fruits, flowers and herbs that these edible plants provide. Visit Carolina Seasons Nursery here in Greenville, and we’ll help get you started on selecting the best plants to include in your landscape design.