It is not uncommon to find dwarf conifers and shrubs in summer cottages. For a better understanding of the topic, we explain that plants whose height in an adult state is less than 3.6 m are attributed to dwarf forms, or they add in growth so slowly that they reach maturity more than a dozen years later. We’ll talk about these “babies”.
What attract dwarf conifers
Breeders from different countries put a lot of effort to bring as many conifers as possible. Their efforts did not disappear in vain, and now there is an impressive variety of ornamental conifers, among which you can find varieties with regular geometric shapes and bizarre growth anomalies, with needles not only in green shades, but also in yellow, golden, bluish and silver. Such an interesting direction as selection and breeding of dwarf coniferous species, characterized by miniature size and slow growth rates, did not go unnoticed.
Dwarf variations were found in a large number of coniferous plant species: spruce, pine, juniper, yew, etc. The unusual miniature size creates interest in such plants, because we are all more familiar with coniferous giants tens of meters high. Admires in dwarf conifers and the fact that for other signs, in addition to size, they exactly copy their full-sized relatives. Another advantage of conifers due to their compactness - much less space is required for their planting. Therefore, some gardeners even collect different species of conifers in their dwarf varieties.
The nuances of growing
Dwarf conifers appeared in our gardens relatively recently, but many gardeners quickly fell in love. However, there were certain errors in their breeding, associated with a misunderstanding of what place they should take in the garden. The reason was that the concept of “dwarf conifers” combined different species, very different growth rates, because of which it often turned out that one dwarf species grew during the year by 2-3 cm, and the other by a couple of tens of centimeters. Naturally, due to such a difference in growth, the initially planned landings lost their intended shape over time, and there was a need for new transfers and redevelopments.
Unfortunately, the trend of inaccurate use of concepts persists to this day, both in literature and among sellers.
A classification of dwarf varieties that is so important for harmonious landscape design for their growth themes has already been created, but not everyone uses it yet.
Dutch gardeners involved in the classification of dwarf conifers proposed subdivide them into:
- full-grown, which can grow by more than 30 cm per year, and at the age of 10 reach a height of 3 m;
- mid-height and semi-dwarf with an average annual growth of 15-30 cm;
- dwarfs (dwarf), characterized by an average annual growth of 8-15 cm;
- mini dwarfs with a gain of approx. 3-8 cm per year;
- micro dwarfs with an annual growth rate of not more than 3 cm ...
Tips for Buying Coniferous Dwarfs
General recommendation: first find out everything about the dwarf, then buy and plant. The main sources of information for you will be the seller-consultant, the Internet, the advice of friends with experience with dwarf conifers. If the necessary information from these sources is insufficient, then it remains to rely on the visual inspection of the plant and the study of the label. By eye, you can try to determine the growth rate of the last and current year in the conductor, or in the side shoots. Also advises to look at the label. On a good label indicates the genus, species, variety, plants - in Latin certainly should be. Ideally, the nursery in which the plant is grown is also indicated.
In order to choose the right dwarf conifer for your garden, it is recommended to determine which category of the above classification the seedling you like belongs to. Knowing what shape of the crown is typical for this species, it will be easier to estimate the parameters of the tree in a few years and taking this into account, choose the right place for it in the landscape of your garden.
Dwarf conifers: planting and landscape design issues
Composing a harmonious composition of dwarf conifers is not so simple: you have to take into account not only aesthetic and spatial requirements, but also correctly find a place for each tree, taking into account its potential size and growth rate. Therefore, exactly what the seedling will become in a few years, and you need to focus. Using information on the average annual growth of dwarf conifers planted on the site, you have to calculate what diameter the seedling will be after 5, 10 or even 15 years, how much it will increase in height and width.
A particularly thorough approach is required when planting mini- and micro-dwarfs. Their modest size allows you to include them in the composition of rock gardens, rocky gardens or slides. In general, dwarf conifers always harmoniously look on a stony background, miniature green plantations very enliven the harsh rocky landscape. A group of dwarf conifers is very beneficial in an aesthetic aspect, if the ground under them is mulled by a pine bark.
Descriptions of some popular coniferous dwarfs
Below we describe several popular dwarf forms of conifers that can decorate your garden.
Mountain pine is a record holder in terms of the number of dwarf forms, the most famous varieties are Gnom, Mops, Winter Gold, there are many varieties with a dense crown in the shape of a ball and unique micro dwarfs are Frodo, Kaktus, and Mini Mini. Almost all soils are suitable for pine and its dwarf forms.
Balsamic fir “Hudsonia” is also a very interesting dwarf plant, with a height of not more than 30 cm and a crown of up to 60 cm in diameter. It grows very slowly, has a pleasant aroma. Ideal for small gardens.
Lavson’s cypress “Minima Aurea” is a very pretty dwarf conifer with bright yellow needles that resemble a pyramid in shape. In cultivation is simple, only you need to protect it from the winds.
Common Juniper "Compress" - a branchy dwarf juniper (90 cm x 45 cm), is a dense, columnar tree. We recommend that you learn about the varieties of weeping conifers.
Scaly juniper “Meyeri” - another dwarf juniper with parameters of 90 cm x 60 cm.
Pretty shaggy, but immediately catches his eye. The color is cold blue.
Sometimes brownish spots appear on adult specimens, which are recommended to be cut.
Canadian spruce "Konika" is a rather large plant for a dwarf form (120 cm x 60 cm). One of the most popular species of conifers. It has a strict conical shape, which does not lose over time. Needles on the new shoots of a pleasant bright green hue.
The Menzies pseudotug "Fletcher" is not the smallest dwarf coniferous plant (90cm x 150 cm).
The needles of needles are painted in blue-green color, the furrow bark, the top is flat.
Tsuga Canadian “Pendula” is a winter-hardy dwarf coniferous, the term “Pendula” in the name indicates that it belongs to weeping forms, therefore it looks especially impressive when its branches hang from the wall.
Thuja western “Herts Midget - but this is a very tiny plant (30 cm x 30 cm). It grows in the form of a dense ball with soft needles. Perfect for a small garden plot and will feel good in a not very thick shade.
Thuja western “Rheingold” is another thuja variety, but larger (90 cm x 90 cm). The plant looks as if its branches were combed up, due to which the spherical shape was transformed into a conical one. This material will tell about the preparation of conifers for winter.
The saturated golden color of needles in the fall begins to cast with bronze.
Conifers in landscape design (video)
There are a lot of dwarf forms of conifers today, breeders are actively developing new varieties that quickly enter the market. Therefore, there is always the opportunity (in the presence of appropriate finances, since dwarf conifers are quite expensive) to choose a plant to your taste. As always, we will be interested to know if dwarf forms of conifers grow in your garden, and what is your experience in growing them. We recommend reading the article on fine-scale larch.