When considering plants to grow in containers, conifers are smart choices, according to the Cloud Mountain Farm website. Growing them in pots keeps their size manageable, while still giving gardeners a dash of life and colour that lasts all year. Garden designer Joan McDonald, writing for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden website, recommends growing several types of dwarf conifers in separate containers to create a miniature evergreen forest on your patio.
Hardy from zones 2 to 6, the common Juniper is a lush conifer to incorporate into a home garden. Its grey-green foliage and convenient size--typically 3 feet tall with a span of 18 inches--makes it a comfortable patio plant. It can grow as either a shrub or a tree. Gardeners should beware of growing it where animals or children can reach it, however, as its fruit is toxic in large doses.
Norfolk Island Pine
Known botanically as Araucaria heterophylla, the Norfolk Island pine makes a convenient indoor plant, according to Colorado State University's Plant Talk. As a tropical conifer, it has a lush appearance with branches growing parallel to the floor. It thrives when grown in indirect sunlight and temperatures between 7.22 and 29.4 degrees Celsius. Unlike other cold-hardy conifers, it prefers indoor conditions in winter as protection against cold spells.
The lime green foliage of the winter heath known as Erica carnea "Golden Starlet" adds bright colour to a garden each winter. At other times of the year, its foliage is golden yellow. It also comes alive with white flowers in spring. Unlike tall, narrow conifer trees, it grows only 10 inches tall and has the wider spread of a shrub.
Hinoki False Cypress
The Hinoki false cypress--known scientifically as Chamaecyparis obtusa "Nana Gracilis"--is a rich green tree that grows in the typical pyramid shape of conifer trees. Unlike other dwarf trees that only reach single-digit heights, this tree grows up to 10 feet tall with a span of 4 feet, making it a convenient wind shield in a pot.
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Dwarf Conifers in Containers: Designing a Miniature Landscape
- Cloud Mountain Farm: Container Growing
- Brandeis University: Medicinal Plants-Common Juniper
- Colorado State University Extension: Planttalk Colorado: Norfolk Island pine
- "Winter-Flowering Shrubs"; Michael W. Buffin; 2005