If you love gardening but don’t have a lot of space, you should purchase dwarf plants. These are compact, small plants that look like their larger counterparts. However, they’re much easier to maintain because of their size and they can also be kept indoors.
How large do dwarf plants grow? Dwarf varieties of trees and shrubs can grow to half the size of their full-size counterpart plants. So, if a full-size plant can grow to ten feet, the dwarf plant variety will only reach five feet.
With the above in mind, let’s explore 10 of the best dwarf plants for your garden. We’ll discuss what makes them worthy of being added to your garden and the tips you should follow to look after them so that they thrive.
Chinese Privet (Ligustrum Sinense)
Also called “sunshine”, the Chinese Privet is a shrub with beautiful yellow leaves that are on display all year round.
This shrub is compact, it only grows to between three and six feet in height and achieves a width of four feet. It can be planted successfully in containers, borders, and wherever you want to create a stunning hedge.
To care for this dwarf plant, make sure you give it full sun or partial shade. It requires soil that’s well-draining. It’s easy to care for, as it’s resistant to drought and high temperatures. Its soil pH can be slightly acidic, slightly alkaline, or neutral.
When you first plant the Chinese Privet in your garden, give it a thorough watering. Then, water it enough so its surrounding soil remains moist. You can also increase the soil moisture by putting an inch or two of mulch around the plant base.
Although low-maintenance, this shrub is susceptible to pests such as scale insects, thrips, and aphids.
If you love massive hydrangea bushes with their large dome-like flowers but you don’t have enough space for them in your garden, you should plant dwarf hydrangeas instead.
These grow up to about three feet in height. When looking after these bushes, you should follow the same care tips as you would for full-size hydrangeas.
Plant your hydrangeas in areas of the garden where they will receive sun in the mornings and shade in the afternoons. They like moist but well-draining soil.
Make sure you water your dwarf hydrangeas with about one inch of water per week during their growing season. Give them deep waterings three times a week to let their roots grow.
Pests are uncommon in these plants and only occur if the plant is stressed, so following the above care tips is essential.
It’s good to note that some types of hydrangeas react to soil pH changes. If the soil pH is too low, this encourages the plants to absorb aluminum, which makes them turn blue in color. Keep the pH of the soil below 7.5 to prevent putting strain on the plant.
Dwarf Butterfly Bush (Buddleia Davidii)
Dwarf Buddleia is a small shrub that reaches a height and width of about two or three feet.
This dwarf bush has beautiful flower clusters that bloom in a variety of colors, such as white, pink, red, yellow, blue, and purple. During summer and autumn, the flowers will attract bees, birds, and butterflies to your garden.
These bushes love hot climates and well-draining soil. Since they’re drought-tolerant, you only need to water them about an inch per week when they’re actively growing. Then, water the soil when it feels dry so you don’t give your butterfly bush too much water.
The soil pH should be kept between 6.0 and 7.0, which is slightly acidic to neutral.
The dwarf butterfly bush has conical flowers that should be dead-headed when they die—they turn dark and brown. Make sure you cut them to the ground late in the winter or in early spring, as this will encourage their growth for the season.
Dwarf English Boxwood (Buxus Sempervirens)
Dwarf boxwood is a round, small shrub that grows to about three feet in height and stays evergreen, so it adds beauty to your garden all year long. It’s a slow-growing shrub that looks great in many areas of the garden, such as on borders and around flower beds. Dwarf boxwood can also be used as beautiful hedges.
This dwarf bush likes partial shade conditions, but if you only have full sun don’t worry, as it’s quite adaptable. Just make sure you give it well-draining, sandy loam soil. If the soil is heavy clay, this will cause the boxwood to get too much water, which can result in issues such as root rot.
The ideal soil pH for dwarf boxwood to thrive is between 6.8 and 7.5, so it likes soil that’s slightly acidic or neutral.
Make sure you water your dwarf boxwood once a week—when the top inch of soil is dry. But, if your area experiences high temperatures, you should increase your watering frequency.
If you love the idea of miniature fruit trees, the dwarf pomegranate is worth considering. It’s a delightful plant that you can keep indoors as it grows up to three feet in size.
It requires bright light and full sun, and if it doesn’t get these, it won’t flower. So, you might have to move it outdoors during the day to ensure it gets enough sunlight.
Dwarf pomegranates are easy to look after. Keep their potting mix moist without letting it become soggy (read our guide to the best potting soil). You should give your fruit tree an inch of water per week. Give it more water during its growing season, and then scale back to watering the plant sparingly during the winter as its growth slows down.
Make sure you top up the plant’s fertilizer once every two weeks from spring to autumn. Use a water-soluble fertilizer that’s specifically designed for fruit trees.
The best soil pH for dwarf pomegranate bushes is between 5.5 and 7.0, it craves soil that’s acidic or neutral. If you have other acid-loving fruits that you’re growing in your garden, such as blueberries, keep them in the same area as your pomegranate bush.
Dwarf Japanese Garden Juniper (Juniperus Procumbens)
This small bush is charming and unusual because of its shape. It has branches that reach the ground because it’s a ground-hugging plant and it displays bright green foliage that becomes a bit blue in color as the plant matures.
It’s evergreen, so it will look stunning in your garden all year round. What makes it easy to maintain is this plant’s resistance to disease.
The dwarf Japanese garden juniper reaches a height of half a foot and a width of four feet. It’s ideal for use as a statement plant in rustic, zen, or contemporary gardens.
It requires full-sun conditions, so make sure you give it at least six hours of sun per day. It likes a lot of space, so don’t crowd it with other plants. That said, it’s tolerant to different types of soil and can be transplanted without suffering from too much stress. It does, however, require good soil drainage.
When watering your dwarf Japanese garden juniper, give it an inch of water every week. However, only water it when its soil becomes dry.
During the spring, give this plant a balanced, slow-release fertilizer before its growth season.
If you want to add gorgeous color to your garden, dwarf spirea is a good choice. This plant grows to three feet in height and blooms in different colors depending on its variety.
For example, “Little Princess” blooms with pink flowers, “Goldflame” has rose flowers, and “Snowmound” has white flowers.
Dwarf spires need full sun conditions to flower beautifully. They’re adaptable to a variety of soil types but avoid planting them in wet ground. These are drought-tolerant plants, so you only have to water them when the weather conditions in your area are very dry.
The ideal soil pH to encourage the growth of your spirea plant should be slightly acidic to neutral, so aim for a 6–7 pH.
When your dwarf spirea blooms, make sure you trim it with pruning shears to encourage it to flower again. Your spirea requires fertilizer once a year early in the spring, use a light 10-10-10 fertilizer. Opt for a granular fertilizer as this will ensure your spirea gets enough food for its entire season.
What’s great about dwarf zinnias is that they’re plants that remain small but their flowers are large and colorful, appearing in orange, pink, red, purple, white, yellow, or multi colors. These plants only grow to about 10 inches in height, so they’re perfect for small places in your garden and are guaranteed to liven them up.
Make sure that you plant them where they’ll get a lot of sun and give them fast-draining soil. To ensure they get a balanced amount of water, place two inches of mulch between your plants to preserve the soil moisture that the plants need, without giving them soggy soil.
When watering your zinnias, give them one inch of water every week but check if the soil is dry before watering them.
When you’re ready to plant zinnia plants, make sure that you ensure enough air circulation so that they don’t get mildew from moist conditions. Keep their soil pH to neutral, slightly alkaline, or slightly acidic.
After the zinnias have flowered, you should deadhead them to encourage the plants to grow new flowers.
Dwarf Smoke Bush
Smoke bush gets its name because its summer flowers look frothy and smoky. This bush has leaves in a variety of glorious colors to add drama to your gardens, such as purple, gold, and green. During autumn, the leaves turn bright orange, red, and yellow.
While a smoke tree can become 15 feet in height, which isn’t practical for all gardeners, this dwarf version reaches a maximum of six feet.
Smoke bushes will grow up to 24 inches per year and need moderate temperatures to thrive. To encourage their growth, make sure you give them loamy soil that’s well-draining. You don’t have to worry about their soil pH too much because they can grow in both acidic and alkaline soil.
Give your smoke bush lots of sun all day long, otherwise, its flowers won’t grow. As for water, you should water your smoke bush deeply twice a week. When the bush has reached maturity, water it once every 10 days.
Your smoke bush is easy to care for as it doesn’t need fertilizer unless it’s struggling to grow. It can also thrive in containers, which makes it a charming addition to your living space. Just make sure it still gets lots of suns if it’s indoors.
There is nothing more cheerful than a garden full of sunflowers. Dwarf sunflowers grow to heights of about three feet. They look exactly like regular-size sunflowers, but they’re just shorter.
These flowers need light, well-draining soil that’s full of nutrients to keep them healthy. Keep them in sunny spots of the home or garden, with at least six hours a day of sunshine daily. Water them thoroughly once a week. Make sure they have good drainage so that water doesn’t accumulate and cause them to become waterlogged.
As long as you keep their soil full of nutrients, you don’t usually need to give your plants fertilizer. However, when your sunflowers are in their growing season, you should give them a balanced fertilizer once a month.
One of the risks of growing dwarf sunflowers is that they can easily become stressed if you water them too much. They’re also highly susceptible to root rot, which can kill the plants.
If you want to grow dwarf plants and shrubs, these plants will be a great addition to your garden, especially if you don’t have a lot of space for your gardening endeavors or you want to enjoy smaller versions of your favorite full-size trees, shrubs, and plants.