Many people underestimate how big Trees will get, and it’s only natural. It’s hard to imagine those cute little Trees in their nursery pots ever growing to 30, 40—even 50 feet and beyond! Consequently, we often see Trees planted too close to homes, eventually looming over them and creating costly hazards. This is a shame, because there are countless small Trees that possess all of the charms of their larger-growing brothers and never threaten to overtake the space they’re given. Here are some of our favorite Mini Trees for Every Landscape, none of which grows taller than 12 feet.
Naturally Small Deciduous Trees
Some Trees are programmed to grow in an upright shape like a typical Tree, but they do so on a naturally compressed framework. For instance, the hard-to-find Red Pygmy® Dogwood (a Bower & Branch™ exclusive) is a pint-sized version of our beloved native Flowering Dogwood Tree. Our beautiful native Eastern Redbud also comes in a petite—the highly coveted ‘Ace of Hearts’ Redbud shrinks the original Eastern Redbud (already a small Tree) in half. And with its showy pink flowers and dramatic purple leaves, the Bonfire Flowering Peach Tree lends a big, bold tropical look to outdoor living spaces, yet it is one of the smallest Trees we grow.
All of these mini landscape Trees make wonderful focal points in small beds and borders near your front entryway, side door, or back patio. If space is extremely limited, or if you wish to have the freedom to rearrange your patio Trees from time to time, you may grow these mini-Trees in large containers. Be sure to give Trees some extra protection in winter if growing them in pots. Ask your Certified Bower & Branch Tree Care Professional for tips on how to overwinter Trees in containers, or contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll be happy to help.
Mini Tree Wannabes
Over the ages, clever growers have vastly expanded our options when it comes to tiny Trees by helping shrubs step into this role. As it turns out, many shrubs are Tree wannabes, and with some know-how, growers can fashion shrubs into delightful mini-Trees. To achieve this look, they either patiently train the shrub to develop a single trunk, eliminating all other stems from the base of the plant, or they graft the shrub onto a trunk they’ve grown ahead of time. These types of Trees often have a lollipop appearance. In the trade they’re called “Standards” or “Tree Form” plants.
Lollipop Mini Trees like Dwarf Korean Lilac and Tinkerbelle® Lilac rank among the most popular Standards you can buy; these two have smaller, cleaner leaves and more compact branching than the old-fashioned Lilacs your grandma grew. Tree Form Hydrangeas like ‘Pink Diamond’ are also bestsellers and bring a burst of white or white with pink to the border in summer, when most Trees have long finished blooming and many gardens need a pick-me-up. Crabapples such as the Sargent Crabapple lifted up onto a single trunk make worthy but space-saving additions to the landscape, too.
For those looking for something a little out of the ordinary, a Tree Form Dappled Willow will bring a joyful pop of color with its pink, white, and green variegated foliage. The devilishly handsome Tree Form Diablo Purple Ninebark delivers chocolate-purple foliage and white half-snowball flower clusters, and our Red Dragon Contorted Filbert Tree Form Standard will give you not only red new foliage, but branches that are fantastically curled and kinked.
Deciduous Weeping Mini Trees
The graceful Weeping Willow has a form that everybody loves, but not everybody has the acreage needed to support this iconic Tree. Fortunately, there are plenty of weeping mini Trees that can contribute a similar cascading effect. The Weeping Pussy Willow Tree is a tiny fraction of the size of its Weeping Willow cousin, and it has charming catkins in late winter that are as soft as kittens. Snow Fountain® Weeping Cherry is a tiny avalanche of white on a Tree that is much more manageable than the more common pink Weeping Flowering Cherry Trees you see everywhere in spring. Eastern Redbud weepers like Pink Heartbreaker® (a Bower & Branch™ original) and Ruby Falls, along with weeping Crabapples like Louisa and Ruby Tears™ offer cascading habits on modestly sized plants. One fun weeping Tree to plant for the kids is the Chaparral Weeping Mulberry. This fast-growing Tree quickly makes a dome of foliage that brushes the ground—perfectly disguising a secret playspace hidden within!
Petite Evergreen Mini Trees
Evergreen Trees supply year-round color, and they can also provide a degree of privacy when planted strategically. When space is at a premium, you must choose evergreen Trees carefully, keeping in mind their eventual size. Emerald Green Arborvitae is always a safe choice for privacy screening. It’s slim, not too tall, easy to grow, and keeps its rich green color all year. For more of a specimen-type pyramidal evergreen, consider a dapper Dwarf Alberta Spruce. In a sheltered spot, a Chesapeake Japanese Holly with its tiny, rich green leaves and dense, compact habit may fit the bill. Less strictly pyramidal are mini evergreen Trees like Dwarf Eastern White Pine, Gold Mop Falsecypress, Dwarf Golden Hinoki Cypress, and Japanese Pieris; these contribute a nice assortment of colors and textures to the mix.
Occasionally, a conifer will develop a bit of congested growth on one of its branches. This is called a “witch’s broom,” and it can be removed and propagated to create a whole new crop of plants. The new plant can be grafted onto another plant near ground level or on top of a trunk to make a Standard. Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce, with icy blue needles that shine all year long and a tightly rounded shape, is deservedly one of the most popular evergreen Standards of all. The Little Gem Spruce is a sweet pint-sized version in green. Blue Star Juniper can be turned into a tidy Standard Tree that rarely needs any pruning and never gets out of control, and the Tree Form Dwarf Hinoki Cypress is a luxe specimen evergreen Standard with wavy, strokably soft, deep green foliage.
Because of their formal, manicured appearance, evergreen Standards are well-suited to the areas closest to your house, especially in the front yard landscape where visitors get their first impression of your home. A matching pair of Standards on either side of a door, walkway, or gate makes a balanced and pleasing picture, although a single specimen can also hold its own in an island bed or foundation planting.
Mini Trees Are Small in Size, Big in Style
Think you don’t have enough space for Trees? Think again! There are Mini Trees to fit any garden, whether you own a sprawling property in the country or a postage-stamp-sized city lot. The compact cuties discussed here are big on color, texture, form, and style, but will never give you big headaches down the road.