Super Dwarfs part two

Last time I promised a list of what I consider to be “Super Dwarfs” (dwarf and miniature conifers with premium characteristics of habit, rate of growth and color) that both the novice and experienced conifer gardener will enjoy. In the mean-time, my wife and I had a wonderfully relaxing vacation camping with a large group of friends. I was able to spend time at our picnic table, with tablet and catalogs in hand, creating the promised list. Friends would drop by to visit so I had plenty of opportunities to promote my favorite conifers while camping.

Super minature conifers in the rock garden
Super minature conifers in the rock garden

The list I’ve created include fairly common dwarf and miniature conifers that should be relatively easy to find at your local independent garden centers. These winners have proven themselves in the garden for their reliability and ease of growth. Some other conifers can be finicky about the soil condition or other regional climatic influence, but these Super Dwarfs will be great for the beginning gardener or long-time enthusiast. I’ve included the USDA Zone rating to help you make choices appropriate for your local area.

Here is my list of twenty conifer Super Dwarfs – believe me it was no easy task keeping my list to just twenty! Some of these are still rare in the trade, but will be worth the hunt if you find them.

Growth rate Plant name USDA hardiness Zone
Dwarf Abies koreana ‘Cis’ 4
Miniature Abies koreana ‘Silberperle’ 4
Dwarf Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Mariesii’ 5
Dwarf Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Gracilis’ 5
Dwarf Cryptomeria japonica ‘Tansu’ 6
Dwarf Juniperus horizontalis ‘Limeglow’™ 3
Dwarf Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ 4
Dwarf Picea abies ‘Fat Cat’ 3
Dwarf Picea abies ‘Pumila’ 3
Dwarf Picea glauca ‘Jean’s Dilly’ 4
Miniature Picea glauca ‘Pixie Dust’ 4
Dwarf Picea glauca ‘Rainbow’s End’ 4
Miniature Picea orientalis ‘Tom Thumb’ 4
Dwarf Picea pungens ‘Montgomery’ 2
Miniature Pinus mugo ‘Donna’s Mini’ 2
Dwarf Pinus mugo ‘Slowmound’ 2
Dwarf Pinus mugo ‘Teeny’ 2
Dwarf Thuja plicata ‘Whipcord’ 5
Dwarf Tsuga canadensis ‘Cole’s Prostrate’ 4
Dwarf Tsuga canadensis ‘Moon Frost’ 4

Happy hunting!

Conifer Lover

10 thoughts on “Super Dwarfs part two

  1. If your readers are looking for a good interactive reference map for USDA plant hardiness zones, there is a google maps based tool at…. (See link under Horticulture Links on right).


    1. Pete – thanks for the great link! This is the best zone map I’ve seen. I almost missed your post, it was grabbed by the automatic spam detector.

      Thanks again!


  2. Hi Ed,

    In your Super Dwarfs Part 2 update, I’m wondering if there was a small naming mistake: should “Thuja occidentalis ‘Whipcord'” be “Thuja plicata ‘Whipcord'”? I had an opportunity to pick one up at this amazing locally nursery, but passed it up for another selection (kicking myself now).

    I love your blog and all of the upbeat updates. Thanks for continuing to share your knowledge and passion.

    Vancouver, BC


    1. (translation from
      “Filling of a site well thought over, a lot of important for itself has read through.”

      Thank you for reading and making a comment.
      Спасибо за то, что читать и делать комментарий.


  3. Ed,

    Came back to this post because I need to replace three Viburnum tinus that experienced major winter kill this year, and I’d love to fill the spaces with some nice slow growing conifers. I’m particularly fond of Chamacyparis obtusa and Picea pungens. I have 2 or 3 feet on each side of the Viburnums. I was wondering then how much of a growth rate would be considered “dwarf” vrs. “miniature”, and maybe get your thoughts on what you’d recommend for those tight spaces.


    – Rudie


    1. Hi Rudie – When I talk about sizes of conifers and I refer to miniature, dwarf, intermediate or large, I adhere to the American Conifer Society growth chart found on their website and described in my post, here.

      As far as recommendations, that’s a real tough one for me without knowing more about your landscape. Maybe post a picture or two on the Facebook Group page of the area you are referring to. That way I could get a better idea of what you are dealing with and you might get others in the group to respond as well. (Facebook Group link on the right menu)



  4. Ed, firstly let me wish you well in your new endeavour. It has given me much joy over the years to live vicariously through your fantastic blog. I hope that your next step is as fruitful as the last.

    I’m sorry to write on such an old blog but I have just bought a grafted whipcord and was looking for some advice. 1) what conditions do you think it is best suited to? 2) it is quite an architectural plant when grafted and I was wonder how well it take to any pruning?

    Thanks for the help,


    1. Hi Simon – Thank you for your kind comments! Whipcord is a definite favorite, and I do love it grafted on a standard. It does respond well to pruning, although I have not found the need yet to do a lot of pruning to maintain its appealing form. I have never heavily sheared mine if that is what you are wondering about. I tend to thin out some of the larger and older wood and then very lightly shear the thread-like branches early in spring. This has encouraged my standard to fill in nicely while maintaining its attractive form, allowing new wispy growth to fill out through the growing season.


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