Dwarf and Miniature Evergreens

Arborvitae is just one type of dwarf evergreen plant.
Arborvitae is just one type of dwarf evergreen plant. (Image: evergreen image by Joann Cooper from Fotolia.com)

Miniature evergreen plants, sometimes called dwarf evergreens, are defined not only by their short height at maturity but by their slow growth pattern. There are many types of dwarf evergreens, with lots of different colors and shapes. These plants aren't just limited to Christmas tree-shaped shrubs, and they're not just for small gardens.

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Dwarf evergreens are ideal for small yards because they start small and stay small. Because they grow slowly, they don't need much trimming. They respond well to regular watering, but they're also tolerant of drought conditions, so they're a perfect plant to grow if you want to enjoy a garden without having to put too much work into it.


Evergreens of any size provide color all year long and don't lose their leaves like deciduous plants do. The dwarf varieties of evergreens feature a great variety of colors and textures; they can be planted in the ground or in containers. Dwarf evergreens can be pruned and shaped or allowed to grow unchecked. You can plan a garden full of several varieties of dwarf evergreens or simply choose one variety to add to a garden of flowers and non-dwarf tree varieties.

Growing Tips

It's best to plant miniature evergreens during their dormant period, which is during the winter. Most grow best in well-drained soil where there's plenty of sun. If you have a shady yard, consider hemlock or yew plants, varieties of dwarf evergreens that tolerate shade. As long as the plant seems healthy and has good color, no fertilization is needed. If you decide to plant your dwarf evergreen in a container, make sure there are holes in the bottom for adequate drainage. Keep in mind that a container plant will need more water than one that's planted in the ground—the soil in a container dries out faster than soil in the ground.


Different varieties of evergreens grow in different shapes. Some are shaped like pyramids or cones; others grow round like globes or in a weeping shape with long, cascading branches that sway in the breeze. Some grow close to the ground as a ground cover; others grow as a short, squat plant that resembles a cushion.


Some popular types of dwarf evergreen plants include: Korean boxwoods, which are easy to grow and have glossy leaves; Alberta spruce, which are cone-shaped and have soft, short, fine needles; arborvitae and chamaecyparis, which are good as hedges and have lacy foliage; and Hetz Midget and Little Giant Cedar, which grow in an attractive round shape.


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