8 Tips for Growing Dwarf Conifers in Containers

Dwarf and miniature conifers—in a breathtaking array of textures, forms, and hues—make magical container plants.

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1. Plant conifers in containers with drainage holes, and use a high-quality, well-draining soil.

2. Select container plants rated for one USDA Zone colder than your area. For example, if you garden in Zone 5, select conifers that are hardy to Zone 4.

3. Start with a pot or trough that is at least 4-5 inches larger than the pot the tree is currently living in. With proper care, a slow-growing dwarf conifer can spend years in the same pot.

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4. During the growing season, place conifer containers in the type of sunlight indicated on each plant's information tag. For most conifers, that means full sun.

5. In the heat of the summer or in drying winds, water the containers daily. In cool months, water the conifers regularly but less frequently (every 1–2 weeks). It's important that conifers are fully hydrated—but not soggy—when freezing weather arrives. Water plants as needed during extended winter warm spells.

6. Use a liquid fertilizer regularly when watering throughout the growing season, starting in late winter and ending in mid- to late summer.

7. Trim the plants to achieve the desired form. You can learn bonsai techniques at a local botanical garden or conservatory.

8. Overwinter the containers along a protected northern side of the house, out of direct sunlight and drying winds. If temperatures drop below zero, temporarily store containers in an unheated garage. Do not overwinter conifers indoors where it is heated. If animal damage is a concern, create cages of chicken wire around the plants, or place containers out of reach of rabbits and other animals.

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