Small conifers and dwarf conifers for pots, containers and small gardens

Small dwarf conifers

At the onslaught of Winter, the garden loses most of its structure and greenery. Small conifers are a great opportunity to restore some of these volumes thanks to the many possibilities these dwarf-sized evergreens share.

Dwarf pines and cedar trees, false cypress, and even the small Korean pine are among the countless numbers of slow-growing conifers.

Small conifer trees

Unlike their big brothers that tend to grab all the space to themselves, small conifer trees (dwarf pine and cedar, false cypress, Korean pine…) tend to grow very slowly and stay small. This smallish size is a major asset when it comes to integrating them into a garden. Almost every desired bearing and silhouette can be found, surprising arrays of colors make for stimulating combinations together with flowers and grasses of all kinds. Many species will do just as good in rocky terrain as they would in rich, fertile soil.

Conifers excel at enriching zen gardensThey often come from Asia, so go ahead and create a Zen rock garden to let them stand out from beds of crushed shale or bright white gravel. When carefully clustered in a growing bed, they’ll make a small garden seem much larger than it actually is. Planted as standalones, in a row, they’ll bring rhythm to driveways, shrub beds, and more …

Conifer: a mythical tree on your terrace

Small variety of gingko biloba, the MarikenFrom all existing species, the miniature Ginkgo biloba is the most surprising. Till recently, the golden maidenhair tree with its fan-shaped leaves that turn to true gold in Fall, was only to be found in larger parks and vast gardens due to its longevity and massive size. Now, even a tiny space will accommodate it thanks to newly discovered weeping varieties, grafted atop a healthy root-stock. These go by the names ‘Troll’ or ‘Mariken’ and come in sizes that range from under 3 feet (80 cm) to at most 8 feet (2.5 m), which makes them ideal for terraces small and large, and small gardens, too.

Easy to care for small conifer

Conifer in a garden planter Make the most of Autumn to settle these little trees in. Choose them carefully, aiming to find the ones with the most balanced structure and densest foliage. Whether you plant them in a pot or in the ground, it’s important to enrich the soil beforehand with humus, and to ensure it drains very well. Having acidic soil is a great bonus for the small conifers, too.

Avoid locations with too much sun, since it might burn their foliage. Water abundantly upon planting, and then again during the entire first year: this will guarantee that they settle in well.

In Summer, give the leaves an occasional hose-down to rid them of spider mites and other parasites. There you go! A perfectly structured garden, even in Winter!

M.-C. H.

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Conifer garden by Jimmy Thomas under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Tree at end of Zen by Paul Scott under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Ginkgo biloba Mariken by Leonora Enking under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Cedar in a pot by Puddin Tain under © CC BY-SA 2.0