Junipers and Mugo Pines are a perfect choice for summertime conditions – and great for the winter extremes as well. Used as container plants or right in the garden bed, these hardy choices make for less work and more fun in the miniature garden because they can handle full sun and hotter conditions in the summer, and they are cold-hardy to -40F. How’s that for versatile?

A full sun miniature garden with the Compressa Juniper and the Mother Lode Juniper
From the Archives, circa 2005: A full sun miniature garden with the Compressa Juniper and the Mother Lode Juniper which is a ground cover. Junipers are very cold hardy and some varieties can be grown in containers for years.

Dwarf and Miniature Junipers

Junipers are available in many shapes, sizes and colors as gardeners are realizing the great value they can bring to any type of outdoor garden or container garden. But in the miniature garden, we can have the best of both worlds. (One of many perks in this new hobby ICYMI.)

When planted right in the garden bed, the tall and narrow Compressa or ‘Miniature’ Juniper (both Juniperus communis) are great anchor trees for the back corner of the bed. Layer-down with shorter shrubs and smaller perennials from there for a well-thought-out design. The gray-green foliage also opens up a palette of colors to pair or complement with the rest of your plantings.

Two Green Thumbs' Poster Child
More from the Archives: The Two Green Thumbs’ Poster Child with a Compressa Juniper on one side of the path and a Miniature Juniper on the other. This miniature garden design lasted about 3 year in this small pot that was about 12″ wide and maybe 7″ deep.

Or, plant a little row of them growing along the driveway or path to your fairy house if you are doing a bigger layout. A line of these column-shaped trees can easily mimic a row of Italian cypresses that you might see lining long driveways out in the countryside. From our experience using them in the miniature garden, the taller Junipers can last about 3 to 5 years in a container, before needing to be replanted in the ground – and it seems to not matter what sized container you use, it’ll need more space in a few years for the taller Juniperus communis.

Now, any ground cover Juniper can be fun addition to your inground mini garden design as well, as these types of low-growing shrubs don’t grow “up” – only out, or prostrate. (Which is a fancy way of saying “grows sideways” in the garden world.) In addition, most of the shorter-growing Junipers that we suggest for miniature gardening also attain a colorful winter blush in the colder temps, adding a splash of color when you need it most in the middle of winter. By simply pruning any wayward branches throughout the summer, the ground cover Junipers can last in a pot for years with a minimum pot depth of 10 inches which is why Bonsai artists also love them too.

See all our Miniature and Dwarf Junipers currently in stock here. Check back often, our plant inventory is always changing.

The Majestic White Bud Mugo Pine in a miniature garden.
The Majestic White Bud Mugo Pine – a “big” little tree for the miniature garden. When planted alone, the wee pine may not be seen as a little tree but when paired with a wee bench and patio, you have yourself a garden in miniature!

The Incredible Mugo Pine

Mugo pines are a trusted miniature tree as well. When really young, they can be used alone or with a taller tree for a very established-looking miniature garden. And as they grow sloooowly, like the Paul’s Dwarf Mugo Pine (Pinus mugo ‘Paul’s Dwarf’) that only grows about 2” per year – they can easily be a majestic specimen tree in miniature. The White Bud Mugo Pine (Pinus mugo ‘White Bud’) is a rare exception as it already looks like a big little tree. Place a wee pond underneath it with a small bench and you have your own secret garden to escape to anytime you like.

The Mugo Pines can also tolerate full sun and hotter weather, especially when planted in the ground and maintained until they are established, (which means one full-year of care.) On the cold front, the Mugo Pines are hardy to -40F.

For our miniature and dwarf Mugos, we suggest planting it in a container for a few years, before planting it in the garden bed, because it’s so small and grows slowly. But they can last for years in a container and yet, another tree that Bonsai artists love to use, btw.

See all our Dwarf and Miniature Pines here. Check back often, our plant inventory is always changing.

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Never “No” Maintenance

This is not to say either type of tree is “no maintenance” because 99% of living plant are not. The Juniper and Mugos will endure the extremes providing they have been given the proper care. In-ground, plant them in a full sun bed with a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight. You’ll need to let the soil dry out until wrung-sponge damp between watering sessions so they don’t get overwatered. We advise a full year of proper care to get established – meaning water them – only because the weather has been so wonky lately, (a technical term :o) Then they will only need watering in the dry months to keep them happy.

In containers, they will need the same light and water – but for the life of the container because the roots obviously can’t find water themselves. In heat of the summer, you can always move a container to a shadier spot to help slow down the water evaporation. If the roots dry out too long and too often, the trees may give up.

See all our miniature garden plants for sun, including our Junipers and Mugos in our store here.

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