Smallest tree species?

West Babylon, NY(Zone 7a)

Does anyone know of a tree species that stays small enough it can live in a pot all its life? Yet be large enough that its visible. Something mabye 3-4 foot max.

Beautiful, BC(Zone 9b)

Well, the real answer to your question is that there isn't any species that fit your description. A tree is described as, "woody plant having one erect perennial stem (trunk) at least three inches in diameter at a point 4-1/2 feet above the ground, a definitely formed crown of foliage, and a mature height of at least 13 feet." This is different from a shrub which is a "woody plant with several perennial stems that may be erect or may lay close to the ground. It will usually have a height less than 13 feet and stems no more than about three inches in diameter."

I think what you're looking for is a cultivar of a tree that remains very small. Bonsai trees are shaped for centuries and remain in their pots but many have their roots pruned and it takes quite a bit of maintenance. I saw a very nice Elm Ulmus x hollandica 'Jacqueline Hillier' http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/95448/ today which was probably less than a foot. There are many dwarf conifers that should do fine in a pot for some time. It might take ordering something from a local nursery or finding one online. Quite a few Trough plants or alpine trees remain very small or their are cultivars of tree species that remain miniature/small.

Maybe if you give a description of what you're looking to do - ie. exposure, evergreen/deciduous, size of pot, etc maybe some suggestions can be given.

West Babylon, NY(Zone 7a)

Quote from growin :
Well, the real answer to your question is that there isn't any species that fit your description. A tree is described as, "woody plant having one erect perennial stem (trunk) at least three inches in diameter at a point 4-1/2 feet above the ground, a definitely formed crown of foliage, and a mature height of at least 13 feet." This is different from a shrub which is a "woody plant with several perennial stems that may be erect or may lay close to the ground. It will usually have a height less than 13 feet and stems no more than about three inches in diameter."

I think what you're looking for is a cultivar of a tree that remains very small. Bonsai trees are shaped for centuries and remain in their pots but many have their roots pruned and it takes quite a bit of maintenance. I saw a very nice Elm Ulmus x hollandica 'Jacqueline Hillier' http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/95448/ today which was probably less than a foot. There are many dwarf conifers that should do fine in a pot for some time. It might take ordering something from a local nursery or finding one online. Quite a few Trough plants or alpine trees remain very small or their are cultivars of tree species that remain miniature/small.

Maybe if you give a description of what you're looking to do - ie. exposure, evergreen/deciduous, size of pot, etc maybe some suggestions can be given.


Well to narrow down my zone is 7a. I would like something that flowers preferably, if not grown for attractive foliage. Sun exposure can be full to partial. Not really looking for evergreens unless they have dwarf specimens that stay really small and have variegated foliage and cones/fruit.

Beautiful, BC(Zone 9b)

Take a look at this, amongst many other, webpages on dwarf conifers: http://www.stanleyandsons.com/products/miniature-dwarf-conifers.html
Do a google image search on "flowering quince bonsai" - you'll need to regularly prune it. You could also check into something like this: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/143949/
There are a lot of possibilities. As a subscriber, I'd highly recommend using the advanced search in Plantfiles: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/advanced.php?sname=Plants as you can more easily narrow down what you like.

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

hi Keith- I think what you need is a shrub, trained as a 'standard'. This is a way to prune shrubs so that over time they develop a single trunk, and look like a little tree. I used to have a 'Playboy" rose like that. You can buy them already trained, or do it yourself which would be fun and much cheaper, but it would take a few years. Do a little searching on DG and Google Images to see what I mean. How about a variegated Hydrangea trained as a standard?

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

you might look into crepe myrtles

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