A dwarf tree is created by grafting a full-size variety of tree onto a dwarf rootstock. Dwarf trees are identical to their full-sized counterparts except for height. Dwarf fruit trees, for instance, produce full-sized fruit. The trees are useful in places where space is at a minimum, such as a small yard or garden. Some dwarf trees also can be grown in pots on patios and balconies.
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Dwarf fruit trees generally reach a height of 8 to 12 feet, depending on species and variety. Due to their small size, the trees are easy to prune and harvest. They are subject to the same pests and diseases as their full-sized counterparts. Many standard-sized species of fruit trees are available as dwarf trees, including apple, pear, fig, cherry, plum, peach, nectarine and apricot. Citrus trees, including orange, lime and lemon, are also available as dwarf trees.
Dwarf varieties of evergreens are used as landscaping plants and are often incorporated into Japanese gardens and rock gardens. They can be kept in pots on patios and inside as houseplants. Dwarf evergreens are fairly easy to care for, requiring little watering and minimum pruning. Many species of evergreen are available as dwarf trees, including false cypress, spruce, pine, fir, arbor vitae, hemlock and juniper. Dwarf evergreens reach a height of 10 to 25 feet.
Ornamental dwarf tree varieties include flowering trees, such as peach, plum, nectarine, cherry, almond, crabapple and apricot. While some ornamental dwarf trees bear fruit, they are mainly used for aesthetic purpose in a landscape, often used as specimen trees or accents. These trees are especially valued for their showy blooms in spring. Varieties of ornamental dwarf trees reach heights of 4 to 12 feet.
Also appreciated for their ornamental value, weeping dwarf tree varieties are distinguished by their cascading branches that dip to the ground in a graceful arch and bloom with fragrant blooms in the spring. Common varieties of weeping dwarf trees include "Snow Fountain" weeping cherry, which reaches a height of 12 feet; "Pink Cascade" weeping peach, which grows to a height of 20 feet; and "Santa Rosa" dwarf weeping plum, which reaches a height of 20 to 25 feet.
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- The Univeristy of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: Fruit Trees-Planting and Varieties
- The University of Maine Cooperative Extension: Growing Fruit Trees in Maine-Rootstocks and Dwarf Fruit Trees
- University of Illnois Extension; Small Fruit Crops for the Backyard
- Washington State University Extension; Dwarf Conifers;Milo Ball
- Colorado State University Extension; Flowering Crabapple Trees; J. Klett et al; February 2008
- University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension: Ornamental Prunus