Small, compact evergreens are great features in any garden. They bring stability to the layout, 365 days of the year, and create a setting for other plants that flower, change color, or do whatever wonderful thing it is they do. Of all the dwarf evergreens, the mugo pine is probably the most popular. It is easy to grow, but while it looks great, and is round and compact when young, many people are surprised to see their ‘dwarf’ pine tree growing rapidly, and within a few years it can be 5 feet tall and 6 feet across. In time these trees become much larger. So if you want to have a compact, bushy mugo pine, then you need to be a little cautious, and select carefully.
The Dwarf Mugo Pine has been carefully pre-selected for you, so the work has been done. This tree is a much more compact version of the mugo pine, and it stays that way for years. Even without pinching it will take years to reach 4 feet in height, and with some control of its size it can easily be kept about 3 feet tall for decades. So many of the mugo pines sold in nurseries have been grown from seed, and this is a tree that is very variable in its bushiness and size. When you buy one of those trees, you really don’t know what it will do. The Dwarf Mugo Pine, however, has been grown by grafting stem pieces onto seedling roots, so it is always going to have the dwarf characteristics that it was selected for.
Growing Dwarf Mugo Pine Bushes
The Dwarf Mugo Pine is a beautiful small, rounded bush, with dense branches and compact rich-green needles, which always stay green, summer and winter, even in the coldest locations. This tree is hardy to minus 50 degrees, so no matter how cold the winters are where you live, it will thrive. It is also hardy in warmer areas, and it grows well even in zone 7. Only in the Deep South, Florida and coastal California is the weather too hot for this lovely tree.
The needles are no more than 2 inches long, and they are densely packed around the stems. If you look closely you will see that they are in pairs, wrapped at the base in a papery sheath. They last on the tree for at least five years, and often as many as 10 years, which is a big factor in creating the beautiful dense green mounds that these trees develop into. Older trees can develop small cones in clusters of two or three, each no more than 2 inches long. These add a charming decorative touch.
Uses in Your Garden
The Dwarf Mugo Pine is perfect almost anywhere in any garden. It makes a great foreground plant in a shrub bed. A pair on either side of a door or pathway look wonderful. Plant it with other dwarf evergreens among rocks and gravel – and of course, it is a perfect way to bring that ‘pine’ look into an Asian garden, especially a small area where you don’t have room for a full-sized tree. It also looks wonderful in a decorative container, and it can be trained as a bonsai too.
Planting and Initial Care
Plant the Dwarf Mugo Pine in full sun. It will grow in light shade for part of the day, but the growth will be looser. It grows in most ordinary garden soils, but it does best in loose, well-drained soil. A little evergreen fertilizer will encourage young plants to grow better, but it is not essential. Once established the Dwarf Mugo Pine will thrive without any care. It is very drought resistant and deer will not bother it. Any pests it may rarely get are easily controlled, so this is truly a low-maintenance tree that anyone can grow
If you want to keep your plant as small as possible, and as dense as possible, there is a way. Each spring you will see the new shoots growing out as ‘candles’, silvery shoots with tiny, immature needles on them. Once these have grown to their full length, you can cut or pinch them back to just an inch in length. New buds will form at the tips, the needles will open as usual, and your plant will look normal, but be very, very compact. This is the only time you can trim your tree – if you cut back at other times, or if you cut back to branches with no needles on them, then healthy new shoots will not form properly. Because this tree is already dwarf, this process is only necessary if you want a super-dwarf tree.
History and Origins of the Dwarf Mugo Pine Tree
The Mugo Pine (Pinus mugo) is found growing wild in the European Alps, from France to Switzerland and into Austria. In the wild is can be a tall tree, but is usually seen as a rounded bush, often quite tall, approaching 20 feet with age. Gardeners loved the look of this easy-to-grow tree, but they found it too large for many gardens. Many plants were grown from seed over the years, and the smallest ones, which grow into dense bushes only about three feet tall, perhaps eventually reaching five feet in height and six feet across, were selected.
Nurseries and growers usually call this plant Pinus mugo var. pumilio, the Dwarf Mugo Pine. Avoid seedling Mugo Pine trees that may be cheaper, as these will not be the selected dwarf form we offer, and can even grow into tall trees, not the lovely dwarf bush you are looking for. Because these trees are special, our stocks can be limited. Order now while stocks last and avoid being disappointed.