Miniature or dwarf evergreen plants are popular ornamental additions to gardens and as potted plants because of their hardiness and ease of maintenance. Miniature evergreens are also popular for use as hedging and as windbreaks because of their dense growth pattern and their all-year leaf coverage. They are also common additions to rockeries and garden edges and for miniature indoor Christmas trees.
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Miniature evergreen shrubs come in many varieties. The largest variety of miniature evergreens are dwarf conifers like spruces and firs as well as junipers, pines or yews. According to Conifer Garden Nursery, these dwarf varieties of evergreen conifers are very slow-growing and most will reach a maximum of 4 feet after 10 years. Other types include dwarf Japanese holly, Tom Thumb, dwarf rhododendrons, boxwood, heath and heather.
If left unpruned, miniature evergreen shrubs generally will not grow beyond 4 feet. They are commonly slow-growing and most take around 10 years to reach maturity. Dwarf evergreens have the general characteristics of providing year-round foliage, dense growth patterns and being hardy with needles or spinelike leaves. Dwarf conifers feature dark green to yellow foliage and grow in shapes from the classic Christmas tree cone to globelike.
Evergreen hardiness zones in the United States range from U.S. Department of Agriculture zone 2, which denotes freezing temperatures, through zone 10, with the most species living in zones 7 to 8. Miniature evergreen varieties prefer sun and a well-drained, fertile soil.
Miniature evergreens are commonly used in ornamental gardens, and are very well-suited for shaping thanks to their normally dense foliage growth. These plants do well in pots on patios and verandas, and the cone-shaped plants often are used as living Christmas trees. These kinds of miniatures are particularly good as edging on garden beds and in rockeries. Dwarf evergreens, especially conifers, are most often used as hedges, although heath, heather and boxwood are also used to create hedges.
According to Washington State University's Master Gardeners, dwarf evergreens are susceptible to attack from aphids, adelgids and spider mites. High-pressure water sprays can break aphids' breeding cycles without insecticides. Insecticidal soap is effective for persistent infestations.
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