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Small conifers in the tub for the balcony: 8 hardy mini conifers with a very big effect

Small conifers are in no way inferior to their big siblings in terms of appearance. They are therefore the perfect choice for small outdoor areas, because they are great for keeping in tubs. You can find a slow-growing dwarf form in garden centers as an alternative to almost any large conifer.

Which dwarf conifers are suitable for keeping in tubs?

Conifers in the balcony box small-growing and compact

When it comes to conifers in the tub, then there are basically two variants to choose from. In the first variant, the tree is grafted as a stem with a small-growing form. The end result is conifers that grow very slowly and have a bushy crown. With the right pruning, these woody plants remain compact and are therefore ideal as privacy screens on the terrace or as evergreen plants for the balcony. The care of these small trees is very simple.

The second variant are the so-called bonsais. These are not grafted dwarf shrubs, but trees that are kept small by regular pruning. Not only the above-ground parts of the plant (twigs and branches), but also the roots are shortened. These bonsai trees are grown to visually resemble large trees. To achieve this effect, you need to prune them regularly. Actually, the bonsai variety requires much more care than the grafted varieties.

How to recognize small-statured conifers and what to consider when buying?

Dwarf conifers on the balcony tips

In garden nurseries and online stores, you can find many conifers suitable for container keeping. But don’t be fooled: even if the label says: Suitable for container keeping, it doesn’t mean that the tree will really stay compact. There are also trees that do well in pots for the first few years, but then need to be planted outdoors. Dwarf shrubs can be identified by two main criteria:

Small conifers for balcony and terrace

  • They grow very slowly and gain just under several inches each year. This allows them to be kept in the desired shape and size with little pruning.
  • The root system should be suitable for keeping in containers. Basically, shallow-rooted plants are the best option when it comes to small-growing conifers for the container garden. Heart-rooted plants also thrive quite well in pots, as they also develop their root system in width and can therefore always extract useful nutrients from the soil. Deep-rooted plants have a slightly harder time in containers, as they root deep into the soil in nature. However, there are some exceptions such as juniper “Compressa” or “Blue Star” and various varieties of dwarf fir. They can expand the root system according to the volume of soil available and therefore thrive quite well in pots.
  • They should be hardy so they can stay outside in the winter. As a general rule, native evergreen conifers are hardy. Dwarf shrubs, which are mainly found in Central and Northern Europe, can also cope with frost, snow and wind. But the situation is different with the woody plants from southern countries, such as cypresses. However, all small conifers for balcony need winter protection to get through the cold season well.

8 beautiful evergreen dwarf conifers for balcony

1. dwarf balsam fir “Nana” reaches a maximum height of growth of just under 80 cm. It has a spherical crown and gains about 5 cm annually. In terms of care, the dwarf variety is quite undemanding.

Small conifers for the balcony in winter


2. blue dwarf cypress “Minima Glauca” grows up to 100 cm high and gains about 5 cm annually. Typical for this hardy variety are its blue-green needles.

3. dwarf hemlock “Jeddeloh” has a flat spherical shape and is great to cut into bonsai shape. It can easily thrive minus temperatures and ground frost.

4. dwarf thuja “Danica” grows to a maximum height of 70 cm and the same width. The spreading and dense growth is the charm of the variety. The dwarf conifer has a round crown by nature, which comes into its own even with only one topiary each year.

Planting small conifers in the container

5. ball pine “Pug” resembles a 100 cm – high shrub. The flat-rooted tree feels very well in a tub and is also suitable as a screen. Annual growth is a maximum of 10 cm and the hardy shrub easily tolerates topiary.

6. sugar loaf spruce “Conica” is one of the most popular small conifers for containers. It has an upright, conical habit and can grow up to three meters tall. However, it tolerates topiary and can be shortened regularly if desired to keep it compact. The maximum annual growth is 10 cm. However, excessively high temperatures in the summer can slow its growth.

7 The Cypress is a small woody plant with a spherical growth habit. It grows to a height of 80 cm, making it perfect for the container garden on the balcony. This variety, unlike other cypresses, is very hardy and can easily withstand temperatures as low as – 25° Celsius.  By the way, the thread cypress can also be planted as a ground cover in the balcony box, if it is regularly shortened.

8. dwarf Nordmann fir “Dobrichovice” is a very slow-growing woody plant, which reaches its maximum growth height of 80 cm only after 30 years. The hardy conifer feels comfortable even in a flower pot.

Small conifers transform the balcony into a green oasis even in winter. They provide privacy and wind protection, are easy to care for and with their needles in accent colors (blue, golden brown, etc.) – a real eye-catcher in the outdoor area.