Dwarf conifers are slow growers and can take up to 10 years to achieve the sizes that are listed in the descriptions to follow. However, their very slow growth rate is what offers an advantage to gardeners. These are the plants that will not shade out or overtake their companions anytime soon. And when they are paired with a shorter-lived perennial, these dwarf conifers have the potential to adapt through multiple iterations of evolving garden designs
1.) Blue Star Single Seed Juniper
Introduced in 1964, the Juniperus Squamata “Blue Star” is an easy-to-find cultivar. Its widespread and continued popularity is due to its undemanding nature and good looks. The Blue Star has silvery blue, tiny overlapping needles covering its thick branches. This plant forms an undulating, irregular, low mound that can reach a height of 2 to 3 feet and close to double in width. The color partners well with all companions, while the shape makes it an excellent low filler. For faster coverage, it is recommended to plant several of them close together. These plants require full sunlight and regular watering, but they can also withstand a degree of drought. The “Blue Star” has also been reported as deer resistant. You can see a wide selection of conifers here at Lime Cross.
2.) Dwarf Balsam Fir
Like the “Blue Star” Juniper, the Abies Balsamea “Nana”, is a petite Balsam Fir that is not only popular but also easy to source. From a species selection native all over northern America, the “Nana” was described first in the 1800s. Certain references have claimed it as “Hudsonia”, one of the dwarf firs found in New Hampshire’s White Mountains during the early part of the 1800s, as the one-and-the-same plant. But the American Conifer Society has noted differences in the arrangement of the needles. “Nana” portrays a distinctive bristle-brush appearance since all the needles sprout around each of the stems, while other species of Balsam Firs only hold the needles on 2 sides of a stem.
The “Nana” grows very slowly to 2 to 3 feet wide and tall, with a round shape due to the dense branching. New growth displays a lighter shade of green that contrasts the older stems. These plants require even moisture and full sun.
Multiple features combine to provide the Tsiuga Canadensis “Jeddeloh” with its delicate appearance. Some of the main attributes are the short, small, light, and fine-textured needles. The needles cover the thin branches that grow horizontally before gently cascading. Overall, these shrubs make for a graceful hassock around 2 to 3 feet in height and 3 to 4 feet in width. They also usually have slight depressions from the center.
The “Jeddeloh” that forms part of the North American species selection was first discovered in 1950 at a German nursery. These plants prefer part shade to sun and protection from the dry winter winds. They also do not cope well in humidity or hot sun. This and the hemlock wooly adelgid insect are what has ruled it out for the majority of Southern gardens. Gardeners in the northern regions should watch out for these pests since milder winters could be raising their range.
4.) Linesville Arborvitae
The Thuja Occidentalis “Linesville” is one of the adaptable alternatives to the Dwarf Canadian Hemlock, but it will need full sun. This unique Arborvitae has thready foliage giving it a “shaggy” texture to its 30-inch, perfectly round form. Found first in the 1980s by Joe Stupka, a nurseryman in a Linesville, Pa., cemetery, today it is also sold as “Bobozam” or Mr. Bowling Ball. These plants need protection from the winter winds and prefer growing in full sun with regular moisture.
5.) Weeping Colorado Blue Spruce
Native to mountains in the Interior West, the Picea Pungens “Procumbens” (The Colorado Spruce) is one of the upright trees. This is a ground-hugging tree that only grows to 1 to 2 feet tall, covering around 8 feet in width. These plants have blue dusky, stiff needles, that grow from rigid branches. These branches grow in different directions to slowly clamber across a garden bed or even up a metal gate like this – https://gatesandautomationdirect.co.uk/products/metal-wrought-iron-gates/metal-path-garden-gates/metal-path-garden-gate-034/. This is also a colourful evergreen that can look effective tumbling over retaining walls or draping over accented stones. Plant in partial to full sun. Once well established, these trees are able to tolerate drought.
6.) Sherwood Compact Mugo Pine
The Pinus Mugo “Sherwood Compact” may look compact when in a nursery pot, but it will become very burly after being planted in a garden for several years when they start to elbow and shade out its companions.
Classified as a “true” Dwarf Mungo, the “Sherwood Compact” will slowly produce a mound of 3 feet in height and 4 feet in width. These plants won’t require pruning, while the branches possess an upright and stiff posture of larger cultivars while the needles offer that expected deep green, glossy color. However, all this is scaled down significantly on this uniform, reliable selection that was first found in the 1950s. These trees require moderate watering and part to full sun.
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