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How to Care for a Dwarf Plant

Container gardens or compact gardens with dwarf shrubs and plants can make a big impact with proper maintenance.


  • Step 1: Purchase plants Select the dwarf plants and shrubs you want from your local garden store or nursery. Consider the maximum height and width of each plant.
  • TIP: Use specially formulated acid shrub fertilizer for dwarf shrubs.
  • Step 2: Transfer plants Transfer plants to containers at least 16 inches in diameter or plant them directly into the ground. Water and fertilize as needed.
  • Step 3: Visualize plant Walk around your plant or shrub and envision how you want it to look. Once you have your vision, the branches you need to remove will become apparent.
  • Step 4: Prune branches Cut branches with pruning shears to limit growth. Never cut away more than 30 percent of your plant at a time.
  • TIP: Pruning back to a healthy bud is called heading. Trimming away an entire shoot or branch is termed thinning.
  • Step 5: Protect your plants Protect your plants from cold weather. Many dwarf plants are hardy, meaning they can withstand the cold, but consider moving delicate ones inside for the winter.
  • FACT: A friend of the ancient Roman emperor Augustus is credited with inventing topiaries – sculpted trees and shrubs – in the first century C.E.

You Will Need

  • Dwarf shrubs or plants
  • Containers
  • Potting soil
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears
  • Patience
  • Acid shrub fertilizer (optional)

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