Dwarf Shrubs and More

Here are 17 beautiful and low-maintenance plants.

Dwarf Norway Spruce is a speading evergreen

This dwarf shrub needs to be protected from harsh winds and hot sun.

Dwarf Norway Spruce

Picea abies 'Pumila'

  • Globe-shaped, spreading evergreen shrub with blue-green needles radiating around stem
  • Plant in full sun in moist, but well-drained soil
  • Protect from harsh winds and hot sun
  • Water to establish and then when dry
  • Height: 3-4 feet
  • Width: 2-4 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 3-6:

  • Zone 3: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; avoid exposure to harsh winter winds.
  • Zone 4: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; avoid exposure to harsh winter winds.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; avoid exposure to harsh winter winds.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in a sunny area but avoiding hot afternoon sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid exposure to harsh winter winds.

Dwarf Arctic Blue Leaf Willow

Salix purpurea 'Nana'

Dwarf Arctic Blue Leaf Willow has purple stems

This willow can tolerate a wide range of soil.

  • Dwarf rounded deciduous shrub with slender gray/green leaves and purple stems
  • Plant in full sun
  • Tolerant of a wide range of soil
  • Height: 3-5 feet
  • Width: 3-5 feet

Hardy in zones 4-8:

  • Zone 4: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first frost to prevent winter heaving; remove mulch in spring; avoid exposure to salt.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first frost to prevent winter heaving; remove mulch in spring; avoid exposure to salt.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; remove mulch in spring.
  • Zone 7: Plant in fall; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; remove mulch in spring.
  • Zone 8: Plant in fall; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; remove mulch in spring.

Chinese Fringe Tree

Chionanthus retusus

chinese fringe tree has fringy white flowers

The Chinese fringe tree is not very cold tolerant.

Gardener's Note: There also is a native species (Chionanthus virginicus) that is much more cold tolerant than the Chinese. Even as far south as zone 8, winter damage can be seen on retusus and not virginicus.

  • Deciduous Tree with "fringy" white flowers in spring, flowers are larger on male plants
  • Female plants produce a blue/black berry in late summer
  • Plant in average to moist soil
  • Plant in full sun to light shade
  • Height: 15-20 feet
  • Width: 20-25 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 5-8:

  • Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; may suffer branch dieback in this zone.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun; avoid contact with salt; may suffer branch dieback in this zone.
  • Zone 7: Plant in fall; plant in full sun to light shade; provide supplemental water during dry spells; may suffer branch dieback in this zone.
  • Zone 8: Plant in fall; plant in full sun to light shade; provide supplemental water during dry spells.

Fireworks Goldenrod

Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks'

Fireworks Goldenrod has arching sprays of flowers

Contrary to popular belief, goldenrod does not cause fall allergies.

Gardener’s Note: Goldenrod does not cause fall allergies. The true culprit is ragweed, which blooms at the same time with green, unnoticeable flowers.

  • This cultivar also comes true from seed.
  • Compact perennial with arching sprays of golden yellow flowers in late summer and early fall
  • Plant in full sun
  • Plant in organic, but well-drained soil; drought tolerant
  • Remove old foliage after frost
  • Divide in early spring
  • Height: 3-4 feet
  • Width: 2 feet, slowly spreading

Hardy in USDA zones 4-9:

  • Zone 4: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; may be marginally hardy in this zone unless protected or covered by snow.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost.
  • Zone 7: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost.
  • Zone 8: Plant in spring; plant in full sun.
  • Zone 9: Plant in spring; plant in full sun.

Firelight Spiraea

Spiraea japonica 'Bumalda' or 'Firelight'

firelight spiraea blooms better in the sun

This shrub bears deep orange foliage and pink flowers in early summer.

  • Deciduous shrub noted for its deep orange foliage and pink flowers in early summer
  • Plant in full sun to partial shade; color and blooming are better in sun
  • Plant in rich, but well-drained soil
  • Water regularly until established; fertilize in spring; prune ½ to 1/3 when dormant
  • Height: 2-3 feet
  • Width: 3-4 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 4-8:

  • Zone 4: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch heavily after first hard frost to prevent winter heaving; avoid contact with salt.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch heavily after first hard frost to prevent winter heaving; avoid contact with salt.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost.
  • Zone 7: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall.
  • Zone 8: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch in fall; gold foliage may fade and defoliate early in hot, dry weather.

Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce

Picea pungens 'Globosa'

dwarf globe blue spruce has bright blue needles

The dwarf globe blue spruce should be planted in full sun.

  • Dwarf, globe-shaped evergreen shrub with bright blue needles
  • Plant in full sun in moist, but well-drained soil
  • Protect from harsh winds and hot sun
  • Water to establish and then when dry
  • Height: 3-5 feet
  • Width: 5-6 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 2-6 (7):

  • Zone 2: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; avoid exposure to harsh winter winds.
  • Zone 3: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; avoid exposure to harsh winter winds.
  • Zone 4: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; avoid exposure to harsh winter winds.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; avoid exposure to harsh winter winds.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in a sunny area but avoiding hot afternoon sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid exposure to harsh winter winds.
  • Zone 7: Plant in early fall; plant in a sunny area but avoiding hot afternoon sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid exposure to harsh winter winds; may be short-lived in this zone, especially with long, hot summers.

Purple Prince Butterfly Bush

Buddleia davidii 'Purple Prince'

Purple Prince Butterfly Bush might be invasive

This plant is on the watch list of several states for possible invasiveness.

Gardener's Note: This plant is on the watch list of several Western and Midwestern states for possible invasiveness.

  • Deciduous shrub with gray-green foliage and bright purple flowers that attract butterflies
  • Plant in rich, but well-drained soil; prune heavily in very early spring
  • Water regularly until established; fertilize in spring
  • Deadhead to reduce seedlings and prolong blooming
  • Plant in full sun for best flowering
  • Height: 8-10 feet
  • Width: 6-8 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 5-9:

  • Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; mulch heavily after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; care for plant as herbaceous perennial and prune to the ground in early spring.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; care for plant as a deciduous shrub and prune heavily in late winter.
  • Zone 7: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; care for plant as a deciduous shrub and prune heavily in late winter.
  • Zone 8: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; care for plant as a deciduous shrub and prune heavily in late winter.
  • Zone 9: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; care for plant as a deciduous shrub and prune heavily in late winter.

Blue Lyme Grass

Elymus arenarius

Blue Lyme Grass is a cool season grass

This cool season grass has attractive blue foliage.

  • Perennial, cool season grass with blue foliage
  • Plant in organic soil; tolerant of wet and dry soil
  • Plant in full sun; prune while dormant in winter
  • Can spread invasively by rhizomes
  • Height: 3-4 feet
  • Width: 3-4 feet, spreading

Hardy in USDA zones 4-10:

  • Zone 4: Plant in spring to avoid winter heaving; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; fertilize in spring with balanced fertilizer.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring to avoid winter heaving; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; fertilize in spring with balanced fertilizer.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost; fertilize in spring with balanced fertilizer.
  • Zone 7: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost; fertilize in spring with balanced fertilizer.
  • Zone 8: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; fertilize in spring with balanced fertilizer.
  • Zone 9: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; fertilize in spring with balanced fertilizer.
  • Zone 10: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; fertilize in spring with balanced fertilizer.

Elijah Blue Fescue

Festuca cinerea 'Elijah Blue'

Elijah Blue Fescue is an ornamental grass

This evergreen ornamental grass should be planted in full sun for it to produce the best color.

  • Evergreen ornamental grass with blue-gray foliage and blue-green flowers
  • Plant in full sun for best color
  • Plant in moist to dry, well-drained soil
  • Height: 8-12 inches
  • Width: 8-12 inches

Hardy in zones 4-7 (8):

  • Zone 4: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost to avoid winter heaving; avoid exposure to salt; may require extra protection if container grown.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost to avoid winter heaving; avoid exposure to salt.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch in fall.
  • Zone 7: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; may lose bright color in hot weather.
  • Zone 8: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; may lose bright color in hot weather.

Fountain Grass

Pennisetum alopecuroides

fountain grass should be divided every few years

Fountain grass can spread invasively by seed.

  • Perennial grass with narrow shiny leaves and stems with creamy beige/pink seed heads
  • Plant in organic soil that is well-drained.
  • Plant in full sun; prune while dormant in winter
  • Divide every few years in early spring
  • Can spread invasively by seed
  • Height: 2-3 feet
  • Width: 2-3 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 6-9:

  • Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost; fertilize in spring with balanced fertilizer.
  • Zone 7: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost; fertilize in spring with balanced fertilizer.
  • Zone 8: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; fertilize in spring with balanced fertilizer.
  • Zone 9: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; fertilize in spring with balanced fertilizer.

Rockspray Cotoneaster

Cotoneaster horizontalis

rockspray cotoneaster has flowers and fruit

The pink flowers on this shrub are followed by red fruit.

  • Semi-evergreen arching shrub with dark green foliage, pink flowers followed by red fruit
  • Plant in fertile, average to moist, but well-drained soil
  • Plant in full sun to partial shade
  • Height: 5-6 feet
  • Width: 6-8 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 4-7:

  • Zone 4: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; may be semi-evergreen in this zone; prune as needed to keep in bounds and neat in appearance.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; prune as needed to keep in bounds and neat in appearance.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; prune as needed to keep in bounds and neat in appearance.
  • Zone 7: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun; apply mulch after first hard frost; prune as needed to keep in bounds and neat in appearance.

Red Meidiland Rose

Rosa 'Red Meidiland'

red meidiland rose is a repeat bloomer

This shrub rose is fragrance free and disease resistant.

  • Shrub rose with single, rouge red flowers and yellow centers
  • No fragrance; repeat bloomer
  • Disease Resistant
  • Moist, but well-drained soil
  • Plant in full sun for all zones
  • Height: 4-6 feet
  • Width: 4-6 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 4-10:

  • Zone 4: Plant in spring; water in dry periods during growing season; after first hard frost, build protective cage around and 6" taller than shrub and fill with compost or shredded leaves; prune back 1/3 to 1/2 in late winter.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring; water in dry periods during growing season; after first hard frost, build protective cage around and 6" taller than shrub and fill with compost or shredded leaves; prune back 1/3 to 1/2 in late winter.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring; water in dry periods during growing season; after first hard frost, mound compost or shredded leaves several inches deep above crown; prune back 1/3 to 1/2 in late winter.
  • Zone 7: Plant in early spring or early fall; water in dry periods during growing season; after first hard frost, mound compost or shredded leaves several inches deep above crown; prune back 1/3 in late winter.
  • Zone 8: Plant in early spring or early fall; water in dry periods during growing season; after first hard frost, mound compost or shredded leaves several inches deep above crown; prune back 1/3 in late winter.
  • Zone 9: Plant in early spring or early fall; water in dry periods during growing season; watch for fungal diseases year round; apply light fertilizer in November; prune back 1/3 after blooming which can continue into December.
  • Zone 10: Plant in early spring or early fall; water in dry periods during growing season; watch for fungal diseases year round; apply light fertilizer in November; prune back 1/3 after blooming which can continue into December.

Wooly Thyme

Thymus pseudolanuginosus

wooly thyme is an evergreen perennial groundcover

Wooly thyme bears bright pink flowers in summer.

  • Evergreen perennial groundcover with wooly gray leaves and bright pink flowers in summer
  • Plant in full sun
  • Plant in coarse, sharply drained soil
  • Height: 2-4 inches
  • Width: 8-12 inches

Hardy in zones 5-8:

  • Zone 5: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost to avoid winter heaving; avoid exposure to salt.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; lightly mulch in fall.
  • Zone 7: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; lightly mulch in fall.
  • Zone 8: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; lightly mulch in fall.

Archer's Gold Lemon Thyme

Thymus x citriodorus 'Archer's Gold'

archers gold lemon thyme can be used in cooking

The lemon-scented leaves of this plant can be used for cooking.

  • Woody evergreen perennial with gold-yellow leaves and bright pink flowers in summer
  • Lemon-scented leaves can be used for cooking
  • Plant in full sun
  • Plant in coarse, sharply drained soil
  • Height: 6-10 inches
  • Width: 8-12 inches


Hardy in zones 6-9:

  • Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; lightly mulch in fall.
  • Zone 7: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; lightly mulch in fall.
  • Zone 8: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; lightly mulch in fall.
  • Zone 9: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; lightly mulch in fall.

Quartz Rose Verbena

Verbena x hybrida 'Quartz Rose'

quartz rose verbena attracts butterflies

This groundcover blooms profusely all season.

  • Annual trailing verbena grown as a groundcover that blooms profusely all season with bright pink flowers with a white eye
  • Plant in loose organic soil that is well-drained; makes an excellent container plant; attracts butterflies
  • Plant in full sun
  • Height: 8-12 inches
  • Width: 12-18 inches, spreading

Grown as an annual in all zones:

  • All Zones: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; plant in full sun; water when dry; bring indoors for winter or discard plants after first killing frost.

Quartz Burgundy Verbena

Verbena x hybrida 'Quartz Burgundy'

Quartz Burgundy Verbena is a trailing groundcover

This annual trailing verbena makes an excellent container plant.

  • Annual trailing verbena grown as a groundcover that blooms profusely all season with dark burgundy flowers with a white eye
  • Plant in loose organic soil that is well-drained; makes an excellent container plant; attracts butterflies
  • Plant in full sun
  • Height: 8-12 inches
  • Width: 12-18 inches, spreading

Grown as an annual in all zones:

  • All Zones: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; plant in full sun; water when dry; bring indoors for winter or discard plants after first killing frost.

Quartz White Verbena

Verbena x hybrida 'Quartz White Burgundy'

Quartz White Verbena blooms profusely all season

This beautiful white verbena attracts butterflies.

  • Annual trailing verbena grown as a groundcover that blooms profusely all season with white flowers
  • Plant in loose organic soil that is well-drained; makes an excellent container plant; attracts butterflies
  • Plant in full sun
  • Height: 8-12 inches
  • Width: 12-18 inches, spreading

Grown as an annual in all zones:

  • All Zones: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; plant in full sun; water when dry; bring indoors for winter or discard plants after first killing frost.

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