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Hardy Dwarf Evergreen Shrubs That Will Grow in Containers

By Joyce Starr ; Updated September 21, 2017
Many dwarf evergreens grow well inside containers.

Whether adding year-round color to a patio, pool or porch area, many varieties of dwarf plants are hardy growing inside containers. Gardeners have many choices in smaller plants that are evergreen, as well as those that flower throughout the year. As when planting any shrub inside a container, use a container that is approximately two to three times larger than the plant’s root ball and drains. This allows adequate space for the roots to spread out and cuts down on the need for frequent repotting.

Dwarf Rhododendron

Dwarf rhododendrons have attractive flowers in spring.

Dwarf rhododendron (Rhododendron minus) is a dwarf cultivar of the larger rhododendron species. It is also known as Piedmont azalea due to the plant’s azalea-like blooms. Plants are evergreen with green leather-like leaves. In springtime, the plant’s branch tips fill with clusters of maroon and pink flowers. Dwarf rhododendron is hardy throughout its growing regions of USDA planting zones 5 through 8. Plants grow 3 to 6 feet tall at maturity. Gardeners should grow plants in a well-draining soil medium and situate the container in an area receiving bright shade. Water plants regularly to keep the planting soil moist, as plants prefer growing in moist soils.


Fetterbush (Leucothoe fontanesiana “Nana”) also called Dwarf Drooping Leucothoe, is a member in the family Ericaceae. Mature plants grow approximately 2 feet in height. It is a dense forming, evergreen shrub with branches that have an arching habit. Foliage is shiny green throughout the year and turns to burgundy-bronze in autumn. Branches are attractive in mixed colors of green and red. Fragrant, white, urn-like flowers bloom in May. Fetterbush is hardy and well suited for growing throughout USDA planting zones 4 through 6. Situate containerized plants in partial or full shade and grow in a well-draining potting mix kept moist but not soggy.

Dwarf Magellan Barberry

Dwarf Magellan barberry (Berberis buxifolia “pygmaea”) is a dwarf, evergreen shrub belonging in the family Berberidaceae. It is a smaller cultivar of the larger species of barberry plants. Also called dwarf box-leafed barberry, plants are hardy growing throughout USDA planting zones 6 and 7. Plants are slow growing with a mounding habit and reach up to 18 inches tall at maturity. The foliage is broad and greenish-red in color with a tiny thorn on the leaf tips and throughout the branches. Small, yellowish-orange flowers fill the plant in spring followed by purplish-blue fruits. Plants prefer growing in full sun in a well-draining potting mix and have moderate water requirements.


About the Author


For over 25 years, Joyce Starr has owned businesses dealing with landscape & design, lawn maintenance, specialty herbs and a garden center. She holds certificates in landscape design and xeriscaping. Starr shares her passion for nature in her writing, publishing articles on horticulture, outdoor recreation, travel as well as business.