They’re with us all year, but evergreen conifers call for some extra praise in winter, when their color, texture and form prove invaluable. They’re the sparks of light in a bleak landscape. These plants belong to a number of different genera from varied environments around the world, and so they have differing requirements and capabilities. However most garden conifers share a need for good soil drainage and sufficient air circulation. Many also prefer cool summers over the heat and humidity of the South, but there are exceptions to every rule.

Here are a dozen options among garden conifers, each with distinctive characteristics that suit them to various roles and sites in the garden.


Dwarf conifers grow slowly, and it may take 10 years for one to attain the size listed in the following descriptions. A sloth-like growth rate offers an advantage to the gardener, however. These plants won’t quickly overtake and shade out their companions, and when paired with shorter-lived perennials, dwarf conifers can adapt through multiple iterations of an evolving garden design.

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