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Trees for Containers – Evergreens

There are plenty of benefits to keeping trees in containers. They’re mobile, able to be placed on paved areas and moved to sheltered areas during vulnerable periods. Additionally, they can come with you when moving home, or be easily rearranged to try out different garden structures. Evergreen plants can be even more convenient, surviving in a wide variety of soils and retaining leaves during winter. With these desirable traits, they’re perfect for setting up structure, interest and screening in the garden, particularly over winter. In this space we’re going to outline four evergreen trees suitable for container growing, to help you pick out a tree that’s right for your garden.

Holly – Ilex species

The Ilex genus is quite varied. There are over 400 species of Holly worldwide, all sharing a similar hardiness and appearance. Here we’ll focus on the Common Holly, Ilex Aquifolium, as much of the information remains relevant across the genus. Always remember to directly research any species you’re looking to buy, however.

Often grown as a hedge, it also functions well as a specimen tree in a container. The spiny green leaves are glossy and present year-through. Expect the tree to yield a long-lasting crop of red berries in the autumn. Some animals enjoy eating them, birds particularly, though your use will be limited to admiring their ornamentation and the wildlife attracted into your garden. Remember the berries are mildly toxic to humans and eating them poses a real danger.

The tree requires minimal cultivation and pruning, though it prefers to be left in full sun. Any type of soil will suffice, so long as you ensure the container has decent drainage. As one of the more iconic winter plants Holly is a great addition to any garden.

Portugal Laurel – Prunus Lusitanica

The Portugal Laurel is an evergreen tree tolerating partial shade. It’s fully hardy, drought resistant, and will survive well in even low quality soils of any type, just as long as they are well-drained. The tree again requires barely any maintenance, though you may wish to prune cautiously in mid-summer to retain the desired size and shape.

For those searching for a little of everything the tree is an excellent choice. The tiny spring flowers are quite fragrant, and a few varieties will produce edible autumn fruit. The long, thick leaves are a pleasant dark green the full year round, and anyone seeking an evergreen with more of a ‘tree’ feel the Portugal Laurel may be exactly what they’re looking for.

Yew – Taxus Baccata

The Yew is popular as both topiary and hedging, though you’re more likely to be interested in the former if growing from a container. It’s almost entirely toxic, particularly the seeds, and features very little noticeable flowering. As with the above trees this species is entirely hardy, comfortable in any degree of light as well as exposure and urban pollution. Simply remember to keep it well drained.

Suitable for topiary the Yew’s foliage is a dense and bushy green. The thin, needle-like leaves grow in two rows on each shoot, though there is little supplementary colouring to speak of. You may be attracted to the Taxus Baccata if you’re looking for a classic topiary that requires little maintenance outside of your own design, without losing its appearance during the winter.

Dwarf Pine – Pinus Strobus Nana

A small conifer, the natural resemblance to Christmas trees is an attraction to many, and it’s not uncommon to see individuals purchasing a Dwarf Pine as a hardy, manageable Christmas tree that doesn’t require pruning or ground planting. Comfortable in any well-drained soil the tree requires no pruning whatsoever, though some insects including aphids may attack it. Bear in mind unlike some of the other trees listed the Dwarf Pine does require full sun.

The tree has short green needles year round, and at times will produce brown ovular pinecones which may remain on the tree for long periods of time. If the chance to keep a manageable Christmas-appropriate tree sounds desirable to you, the Dwarf Pine might be the best choice available.

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