Small Trees That Stop Growing in the Winter

Many small, deciduous trees go into dormancy in late fall throughout winter. Dormant trees stop growing and survive winter through stored energy created during their growth season of spring throughout summer. When warm weather in spring returns, new growth appears and the growth cycle begins again. Small, dormant trees create shade in summer while their canopies are lush and their loss of leaves during winter allows heat to enter the landscape.


Plumeria (Plumeria) is a tropical tree averaging 20 feet in height at maturity. It grows well outdoors in USDA planting zones 9 through 11. Cooler regions of the United States should grow plumeria inside large containers or in greenhouses for winter protection. Trees fill with leaves and fragrant flowers through its growth season of spring throughout summer. Flower color depends on the particular cultivar grown. In fall, leaves begin dropping as the tree goes into its dormant stage. Plumeria grows best planted in full sun, though it tolerates partial sun conditions. It grows and flowers best planted in rich, well-draining soils, as it will die in saturated conditions. During spring and summer, water the tree weekly for best growth. When the tree begins its dormancy stage and starts dropping leaves, cut watering back to once per month. Plumeria works well as a small specimen tree or in mixed tropical gardens.

Wild Plum

Wild plum (Prunus americana), also called American plum, is a small, fruit-bearing tree that averages 20 feet tall at maturity. Trees grow well in gardens located in USDA planting zones 3 through 8. The tree is deciduous, losing its foliage in fall as it goes into its dormant stage throughout winter. Trees have attractive light tan bark and bloom in springtime with white flowers turning to pink as they age. Purplish-red to brownish-yellow, 1-inch, edible plums form on the tree after the blooming stage. The plum tree grows best in full sun but tolerates partial sun conditions. At least two trees are required in the landscape for proper pollination and fruit production. Trees grow and fruit best planted in rich, well-draining soils. As with most dormant tree species, water weekly during its growth period and cut down to once per month when dormant. Wild plum trees are suitable for use in native and wildlife gardens, in small landscapes or as a small specimen tree.


Serviceberry trees (Amelanchier canadensis) are small, deciduous trees or shrubs growing up to 20 feet tall at maturity. Serviceberry grows well throughout USDA planting zones 3 through 7 and is a North American native. The tree has attractive springtime foliage, with new shoots white and fuzzy, eventually turning glossy green. Clusters of white flowers fill the tree in spring followed by edible, blueberry-like fruits. Fall foliage is quite attractive, turning bright colors of yellows, reds and orange. The tree grows best in partial sun in well-draining, moist soils. During the growth season of spring through summer, water the plum tree weekly. When the tree goes dormant and stops growing in late fall and winter, cut back the watering to once per month. Serviceberry trees are suitable used in wildlife and native gardens, planted inside large containers or used as a small specimen tree.

Keywords: dormant winter trees, deciduous small trees, small doramant trees

About this Author

Joyce Starr is a freelance writer from Florida and owns a landscaping company and garden center. She has published articles about camping in Florida, lawncare, gardening and writes for a local gardening newsletter. She shares her love and knowledge of the outdoors and nature through her writing.