By Natalie Carmolli, Proven Winners® ColorChoice®
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners® ColorChoice®
We all love the old fashioned, statement-piece shrubs. Those glorious “specimen plants.” But with bigger houses and smaller yards, and more homes in urban settings, there often isn’t space for the grand old garden shrubs of the past. Nevertheless, people still want the ease and beauty that ornamental shrubs provide to a home garden.
Fortunately, there are many cultivars of dwarf shrubs that function a lot like perennials, fitting into garden spaces that are surprisingly small. Here are some of the tiniest dwarf versions of popular shrubs – perfect for small garden spaces, and even containers:
Tiny Wine® ninebark’s pinkish-spring white flowers and dark, bronze-maroon foliage provides season long color and its upright habit adds nice, compact height to mixed containers. At 3-5’ tall and wide, it’s considerably smaller than the typical 5-10’ ninebark shrub. USDA Zones 3-7.
Low Scape Mound® chokeberry is a tough, tidy little mound of glossy green foliage. In spring, it's covered in hundreds of dainty white flowers, and in autumn, the leaves turn brilliant red to contrast with dark purple-black fruit. A great native choice for borders, it measures just 1-2’ tall/wide, and is hardy in USDA Zones 3-9.
If you thought you didn’t have room for a lilac, think again! Bloomerang® Dwarf Pink and Bloomerang® Dwarf Purple Syringa measure just 3’ tall and wide, but they have the same reblooming ability as the larger Bloomerang® varieties, which top out at 4-6’. USDA Zones 3-7.
The My Monet® series of weigela has the beautiful trumpet shaped spring flowers you love on weigela, but measures in at an astonishingly small 2-2.5’! With green and white variegated foliage, this dwarf plant needs no pruning and provides season-long color. It’s deer resistant, too! Like lilacs, these colorful companions like cool climates and are hardy down to USDA Zones 4-6.
Invincibelle Wee White® smooth hydrangea ensures that anyone can enjoy the reliability, low-maintenance, and season-long beauty of hydrangeas. Each flower emerges a soft, blush pink before changing to white, and is held up on a strong, supportive stem for a display that looks more like a bouquet of flowers than a landscape plant. Blooming begins in early summer and continues through frost, with new flowers appearing the whole time. Topping out at only 1-2.5’ tall, this little native hydrangea naturally grows as a tidy, rounded mound and is perfect for containers and small space gardening. It has a wide hardiness zone, USDA 3-8.
Tiny Tuff Stuff™ mountain hydrangea measures in at a diminutive 1.5-2’ but packs a punch when it comes to blooms. With flowers so delicate and refined, it seems strange to call them tough – but they are. They are extremely bud-hardy and produce abundant lacecap flowers all summer long. While this plant leans to blue, the flower color may range from blue to pink to white, all soft, delicate shades perfect for refined gardens. Hardy in USDA Zones 5-9.
These are just a handful of plants that have been bred to make shrubs the perfect choice for smaller spaces. Whether you use them as a single specimen plant or add them to containers, these delightful dwarf shrubs will make your garden presentation truly extraordinary.
If you have a favorite that isn’t mentioned here, ask a professional at your local garden center for help, or write in to the Proven Winners® feedback line where experts are available to make suggestions and guide you through all your landscape challenges.
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By Pamela Crawford, author, Easy Patio Veggies & Herbs
Photographs by Pamela Crawford
Pamela has written a great article about mixing herbs in containers. Herbs are natural companions with different textures for interest. The herb mix of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme offers lots of flavor from a small combination loaded with textural interest.
To learn more, click here .
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