In this guide, I’ll be discussing dwarf conifers for landscaping, so keep reading!
Dwarf conifers are an excellent addition to any garden. Their colors make them very attractive and they provide both food and shelter to birds.
The best part is, they require very little maintenance, which makes them worth considering when making plans for your landscape.
Even though they are called “dwarfs”, they are just slow growers. At the age of 20 through 30, they will reach a larger mature height.
Most variations will remain compact, but they are ranked based on their rate of growth and the height they get to at the age of 10.
Dwarf Conifers For Landscaping
Allow me to recommend to you some lovely dwarf conifers that would suit most landscaping designs.
Norway Spruce: (Picea abies species, Zones 3 to 7)
This is a lovely spruce that has a natural pyramid shape and glossy dark-green foliage. It thrives well in full sun and can adapt to a wide range of soil types. It is also wind tolerant.
Over the years, it has become a favorite for many landscapers and gardeners are on the lookout for dwarf cultivars more than ever before.
Some of the most popular variations include Clanbrassiliana, Echiniformis, Little Gem, and Perry’s Gold.
This specie of dwarf conifer is very easy to find, all thanks to the attention the world of horticulture has given to it. You can buy them in most tree shops.
Creeping juniper: (Juniperus horizontalis species, Zones 4 to 9)
This species is commonly found in the North American region and it can adapt to and grow in almost any type of soil. You can easily find them scattered around mountain slopes and seashores.
Similar to Junipers, they thrive in full sun and they require good drainage.
Among the favorites are the Motherlode and the blue-green Ice blue variations.
This plant will go to your yard a very beautiful look and they can also be used as privacy screens. This is why it remains a popular choice among gardeners.
Hinoki false cypress: (Chamaecyparis obtusa species, Zones 5 to 8)
If you’re looking for a dwarf conifer that will offer your garden a special look, then you may want to consider this option.
This plant is a Japanese native and it is held in high esteem in the Shinto religion. It has a dark green fan-shaped foliage and a unique looking bark.
If you want to plant them in small spaces, then you can go for slow growers such as the Golden Nana, Minima, or the Gracilis.
You can get them at your local nursery, or search online to find them.
Arborvitae: (Thuja occidentalis, Zones 3 to 7)
This species is very popular so you can find them in almost every nursery. Be warned though, if you have deer living your area then the foliage will be in danger of being eaten.
It is dense and it is pyramid-shaped. You can also find clusters of seed-producing cones on them.
Smaller variations include the Golden Globe, Tiny Tim, and Hetz Midget.
You will love it because it has a vintage conifer appearance and it gives the birds more than enough to cover.
Bald cypress: (Taxodium distichum, Zones 4 to 11)
You can find these dwarfs in the swamps along with the Eastern parts of America. It may interest you to know that this species is also the state tree of Louisiana.
It requires full sun to survive. It also does very well in acidic soil.
The slow-growing variations include the Secrest and the Cascade falls.
This is a very tough conifer species, as they can tolerate wet and poorly drained sites.
You would also love it for its orange/pumpkin brown color, just before the needles drop.
Sawara cypress: (Chamaecyparis pisifera, Zones 4 to 8)
There are many variations of this conifer species. Some large variations can grow up to 150 feet in natural settings.
Recommended species for small gardens include the Golden Yellow foliage Filifera and the golden mop.
These species come in many shapes, colors, and sizes which allows you the privilege of selection. You can go online and make your choice or visit your local nursery to get one.
Hiba arborvitae: (Thujopsis dolobrata species and cultivars, Zones 5 to 7)
This plant is native to Japan and it has wide branches and nice glossy foliage. Many gardeners use them as hedges and they are very versatile plants.
As for availability, well it’s not as common as other species but you can do some research online to know where you can find them.
I recommend the compact Nana.
You’d love this plant its ability to tolerate a wide range of soil types. It thrives best when in partial shade, which makes it a good choice for small backyard gardens.
Colorado blue spruce: (Picea pungens species, Zones 3 to 7, 8 to 9 on West Coast)
This spruce is native to Colorado and it loves rich and moist soils. It also thrives in the full sun, although it is just as tolerant as other spruce variations.
Insects are attracted to this dwarf conifer so be sure to keep them in areas free of any pests. You can try the Montgomery species, it’s a good fitting most gardens.
I’m sure you’ll love its stiff needles and its natural elegant shape.
Mugo pine: (Pinus mugo, Zones 2 to 7)
Dwarf Mugos are the most common, but other variations can grow up to 30 feet tall. Other varieties of the Mugo conifer include the upright and ground-hugging species.
The only thing you’d have to worry about with this plant are its pine needles. Also, it is more susceptible to diseases during the summer when it’s hot.
The Compact Sherwood and Corley’s Mat are also good variations.
It is one of the hardiest conifers you can find, it even thrives in zone2. This plant can also adapt to a variety of conditions and can tolerate heat.
Oriental spruce: (Picea orientalis species, Zones 4 to 7)
Even though the Norway spruce is the most popular choice among gardeners, the Oriental spruce seems to be the better option, thanks to its hardiness.
If you have a small garden, then you can go for the Nana or the Tom Thumb species.
The high tolerance of this plant is something you’d want to consider since that will mean minimal maintenance.
How To Plant Dwarf Conifers In Containers
For dwarf conifers, they do not grow more than 15 feet tall at mature height. They are slow growers that add just 3 to 5 inches per year
Some species of dwarf conifers take as long as 10 years to get to 6 feet. Thanks to their slow growth, it will be convenient if you choose to plant on containers.
Dwarf conifers can live in the same plant pot for as long as 5 years, which makes them one of the best low-maintenance container plants on Earth.
To begin, you should get a container that has the required size of drainage holes. This should be 4 to 6 inches wider than the original container you got from the purchase.
Your best option for a plant pot is the type that can resist the impact of weather elements.
Be sure to clean the plant pot thoroughly with clean water. Use a 10 percent bleach solution to chase away garden pests and other plant diseases.
Scatter some clean river rocks at the bottom of the container, at most 2 inches high. Doing this will prevent the soil from washing away through the drainage holes.
It will also provide some extra weight for the container and better overall balance. This is very helpful in preventing the tree and container from tipping over during heavy winds.
It also gives the container added weight so the dwarf conifer does not fall over during strong winds.
Make a mixture of three parts potting soil, two parts sand, and one part well-rotted compost. This will provide a good draining soil for the plant and a source of low release nutrients.
After that, seal the rocks with a two to the four-inch soil layer.
Gently take out dwarf conifer from its container and take a quick look at the root ball. Cut off any dead roots using a pair of hand pruners.
The next step would be to loosen the roots around the root ball so they won’t get entangled. You can now place the conifer into its new container.
Fill up the container with soil, make sure they sit well enough around the root ball. Raise the soil to a level that’s 2 inches away from the rim of the container then spread about half an inch of rocks over the topsoil.
You can now water the soil and leave it to drain out. Watering should be a regular habit, especially in the hot, dry summer.
Using dwarf conifers for landscaping has become a popular practice among gardeners, thanks to their looks and low-maintenance needs.
You should get one too!