Container Shrubs

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If I say shrub to you, what do you think of? A row of hedges planted along your property line to give you privacy? Or maybe some dwarf evergreen shrubs in a xeriscape garden to soften the hard edges? Perhaps fast-growing plants like honeysuckle or forsythia that are great for quickly filling in a bare landscape?

Whatever example popped in your head probably involved a shrub that was firmly planted in the ground. But what if you are renting a property or live in an apartment or are looking for some patio décor – do you have to go without shrubs?

Happily, there are many shrubs that do well in containers. They will give you all the benefits of these beautiful plants, plus the flexibility to reposition them around as needed – or if you move!

Here are some examples of shrubs that do very well in containers:

  • Dwarf Alberta Spruce (and all dwarf conifers) – this small evergreen conifer has the classic Christmas tree shape.
  • Japanese Maple – with their fiery leaves, these shrubs make a big statement in a small space.
  • Dwarf Peach Trees – rarely getting taller than 8 to 10 feet, these trees will give you spring blossoms, summer green foliage and full-size fruit.
  • Serviceberry – this is an all-year shrub that gives you different looks throughout the year – flowers in spring, fruits in summer, colorful foliage in fall, and stark bark in winter.
  • Dwarf Crabapple “Lollipop” Shrubs – It really does look like a lollipop with its ball of fragrant white flowers on a sturdy trunk. Thanks to its dwarf genetics, this shrub always looks neat and needs minimal pruning.
  • Dwarf varieties of butterfly bushes – you’ll still attract the pollinators with these shrubs but without them taking up too much space in your garden.
  • Hydrangea – about a third of the size of a full hydrangea bush, dwarf hydrangea are another shrub that gives you beautiful blooms while requiring minimal pruning.
  • Barberry – the small round leaf clusters of the barberry look gorgeous in containers and can add color (and privacy) to a deck, patio or balcony.
  • Dwarf Ninebark – a shrub where the flowers are almost secondary to the bark, the name comes from the way the bark peels back, exposing a beautiful red underneath.
  • Low Scape Mound Aronia – this dwarf chokeberry has fast developing leaves and is great for attracting birds.
  • Boxwood – the classic border shrub that often give in-ground gardens their shape is also terrific in containers, and their evergreen foliage provides year-round color.

There are some things you need to consider when planting shrubs in pots. First, your container needs to be thick; plastic containers need not apply for the job of housing a dwarf shrub. Size matters too; your pot should be twice the size of the root ball of the plant to ensure the roots don’t freeze and thaw throughout the winter.

All this means you might have a heavy plant to cart around, so you might want to invest in a tray with wheels to make it easier to move and winterize. Speaking of winter, your container shrub will need water at least once a month during the winter, so make sure it’s accessible.

If you have any questions about selecting shrubs for container planting, please give us a call or visit the nursery. We have both the plants and the appropriate pots for them and can help with whatever advice you need.

Happy Gardening!