How to Plant Dwarf Conifer Trees in Containers

Updated February 21, 2017

Dwarf conifers are ideal trees for container growing in small spaces both indoors and out. A slow-growing tree, dwarf conifers commonly grow only 6 inches a year or less and take 10 years to reach mature heights of 5 to 6 feet tall. Planting a dwarf conifer in a container requires careful soil preparation and handling in order to provide the young tree with the right balance of nutrients, drainage and space.

Measure the size of the nursery container your dwarf conifer is currently in and select a pot that is 1 inch larger. Check the bottom of the pot and select one that has holes to allow water to drain through.

Mix equal parts potting soil and well-rotted compost to create a nutrient-rich potting medium with good drainage. Avoid garden soil as it is too heavy for container culture.

Place pieces of pottery loosely over the holes in the bottom of the pot or spread a 1-inch layer of coarse gravel in the bottom to hold the soil in place while allowing water to drain away from the roots.

Hold the dwarf conifer in the pot so that the base of the trunk is 1 inch below the lip of the pot. Add enough potting soil so that the tree can rest on the soil in the container at the correct height.

Remove the conifer from the nursery pot. Lay the tree on its side and gently work the pot away from the root system. Hold the trunk as close to the soil line as possible to avoid breaking or damaging the young tree.

Place the dwarf conifer into the pot, making sure the base of the trunk is still 1 inch below the lip of the pot, and adjust the soil under the root ball if necessary. Add soil around the root ball, filling the pot to 1 inch below the top of the container.

Pat down the soil gently with the flat of your hands. Water the dwarf conifer thoroughly until you see water draining out of the holes in the bottom of the pot.

Things You'll Need

  • Potting soil
  • Compost
  • Pottery shards or gravel
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About the Author

Eulalia Palomo has been a professional writer since 2009. Prior to taking up writing full time she has worked as a landscape artist and organic gardener. Palomo holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies from Boston University. She travels widely and has spent over six years living abroad.