The Best Dwarf Trees to Grow Backyard (2023)

Dwarf trees are pretty and can produce fruit, but they don’t take up much space in your yard. Find out what dwarf trees are and 10 amazing kinds to think about.

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What Are Dwarf Trees?

Dwarf trees are grown to be between one-third and one-half the size of a typical tree of the same species. In horticulture, the process of “dwarfing” can be done through selective breeding, genetic engineering, limiting nutrients or hormones, and grafting parts of certain trees onto a different species.

People with small yards or gardens often want dwarf trees, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be either evergreen or not. There are a lot of myths and little-known facts about these amazing trees, which is a shame. Among them are:

Bonsai trees are different from dwarf trees. Bonsai is a form of art that is made by pruning and training a tree in a special way to make it look like a small version of the tree in nature.

Almost all commercial apple orchards use dwarf or semi-dwarf apple trees to make picking apples and spraying them easier.

Some people think of semi-dwarf trees as dwarf trees, but they are not. Semi-dwarf trees grow to be between half and three-quarters as big as a typical tree of their species.

Some dwarf trees grow on their own. Natural dwarfing happens when a tree has to adapt to a stressful environment (like low light or bad soil) where only small varieties can survive.

If you want to add a dwarf tree to your landscaping, here are 10 unique and attractive dwarf trees to consider.

Read more: Dwarf Flowering Trees.

Magnolia ‘Butterflies’

Hundreds of different kinds of magnolia trees are known for their beautiful flowers, and the Magnolia “Butterflies” is no different. It gets its name from the yellow bowl-shaped flowers that bloom from mid-March to April and look like butterflies. The tree has large, sharp, dark-green leaves until winter, when they fall off.

“Butterflies” only gets 10 to 20 feet tall and doesn’t need much care or trimming. They do well in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5 to 9, so they can survive temperatures as low as -20 F.

‘Akita Yatsubusa’ Japanese Maple

Photo by Grant McCurdy on Unsplash

The ‘Akita Yatsubusa’ Japanese maple is often used in bonsai and rock gardens. It has beautiful leaves that change color throughout the year. In the spring, the leaves are pinkish-red, but as the summer goes on, they get greener and greener until they are orange-red in the fall.

They only get about 2 1/2 feet tall, which makes them great focal points in small gardens, yards, or pots. Akita Yatsubusa is one of the most beautiful types of Japanese maple, but it is also one of the most hardy. It grows well in Zones 5 through 9.

Cherry Tree from “Romeo”

Photo by Yume Photography on Unsplash

The ‘Romeo’ cherry tree only gets between six and eight feet tall, but it has beautiful leaves, makes a lot of fruit, and can take a lot of cold. In the spring, it has beautiful white and pink cherry blossoms, and in the summer, it has bright red fruit.

Even though the Romeo cherry tree is small, it can produce up to 30 pounds of tart cherries each year. These dwarf trees can grow in Zones 3 through 7 where it gets very cold.

What are the cons? They can get sick and be attacked by pests, and they might not do well in warmer climates.

‘Little King’ River Birch

The “Little King” river birch is a dwarf variety of Betula nigra river birch that only grows to be 10 to 12 feet tall. In its first few years of growth, the crown is usually shaped like a pyramid. As it gets older, the structure changes to be more round.

From spring to fall, the “Little King” has green leaves that look like diamonds. In the winter, the tree’s bark is a beautiful salmon and white color. Like its bigger cousins, the ‘Little King’ is hardy in Zones 4 through 9, and it can handle heat and drought better than other types of birch.
Birch borer and birch dieback are two insects and diseases that can affect these trees.

Lavender Twist Weeping Redbud

The Lavender Twist weeping redbud grows well in Zones 5 through 9. It is common in the southeastern part of the United States. They can grow up to 15 feet tall and have clusters of small pink-purple flowers that look nice in the spring.

After the flowers die, which takes about three to four weeks, the branches grow bright green leaves. The fact that these trees go into dormancy earlier than many other ornamental trees makes them very cold-hardy. They can also keep deer away.

‘Owari’ Satsuma Mandarin Tree

dwarf trees
Photo by Victoria Chen on Unsplash

The ‘Owari’ Satsuma mandarin tree has both small size and the ability to withstand frost, which is unusual for citrus trees. It gets to be eight feet tall and has one of the sweetest mandarins with a skin that is easy to peel. In the spring, pretty white flowers bloom and bring in pollinators.

Even though it’s one of the most hardy citrus trees, it can’t handle temperatures below 12 F. It grows well in Zones 8 to 11.

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