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Alabama Guide to Growing Trees

 

Alabama is known for its rich, diverse forests. Growing trees in Alabama isn’t difficult, but it does take some work. To help you out, we’ve put together this guide on what you need to know about growing trees in the state!

Trees in Alabama

The Best Flowering Trees to Grow in Alabama

The Jane Magnolia

A magnolia tree is from the Magnoliaceae family of plants. They are known for large flowers and a pleasant smell. With a variety of colors in their blooms as well as hybridization options, you may want to choose one that suits your needs best. One of the hybridizations is Jane Magnolia, which was created by the National Arboretum.

The Jane Magnolia Tree is a unique variety because it remains unscathed during late spring frosts that affect other magnolias, and also has an enchanting fragrance in the summertime. It even outlasts tough conditions while producing waves of vibrant pink blossoms that last longer than other magnolias. This Jane Magnolia is perfect for small yards in all climates. It can be planted anywhere but is best suited to southern gardens with patios and decking. This lovely Jane fits just about anywhere in the southern U.S., not just Alabama. 

Planting & Care

To grow a Jane Magnolia tree, you must first find an area that is well-drained and receives full to partial sunlight (4 to 8 hours per day). The trees can grow in any type of soil, from acidic to loamy. To plant the tree, dig a hole that’s about large enough for the root ball. Backfill with soil including mulch for added moisture and place it near areas that get plenty of sun on your patio or porch if you’re planting in a container.

Jane Magnolia Trees need water only during summertime when the soil is dry. These trees also require fertilizer treatment every spring and fall, and if planted in containers they will require more watering than regular in heated months but less water if not. No other pruning or maintenance is necessary to enjoy Jane Magnolia blossoms year-round unless it’s grown in warmer climates.

Eastern Redbud Tree

Cercis canadensis, the Eastern Redbud tree, is one of Alabama’s most beloved and sensational deciduous understory trees. One of the first blooming trees each season, Eastern Redbud’s flowers are vibrant shades of pink. It is prized for its beauty and one of the more interesting flowering trees in Alabama.

The strong Eastern Redbud can withstand cold weather of -20 degrees and can resist ice damage without any problems. The Eastern Redbud tree also grows very well in most types of soil. Besides its rounded canopy, branching pattern, and four seasons of color-changing leaves that provide beauty all year long, it is easily adaptable to people who want a simple landscaping project. Regardless of your garden, you get the Redbud’s attractive flowers, vibrant foliage, and unique spreading shape. Redbuds provide a brief but beautiful display in each season: in spring with blazing colors; summer with deep green leaves; then fall colors of bright red to copper hues. 

Planting & Care

When planting Redbud trees, find an area of your yard that receives at least 4 hours of full sun and is well-drained. Dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball of the new tree. Place loose dirt to level it with groundwater well for roots to settle in new soil¸ then top off with mulch to conserve moisture (a shallow layer will suffice). Once your redbud is established, it can survive with rainfall alone. Periodically watering the tree when young will help with establishment. But be careful not to over-water once this is achieved as overwatering can cause soil rot and wilting leaves among other symptoms.

Early spring blooming can be encouraged by applying fertilizer or compost around the root zone. A flowering tree should be pruned before it finishes blooming, while it is still in bloom. Begin by trimming any branches that are crossing over each other, rubbing against each other, or growing from the bottom of the trunk. In late winter cut off any damaged wood and remove any shoots appearing at the base of the tree. If several branches need to be removed gradually do so over a few months.

The Cleveland Pear

The Cleveland Pear is one of the most popular varieties of Flowering Pear Tree. It grows in a clean, symmetrical shape without pruning, and these trees can be found throughout Alabama. Other varieties of flower pears have different characteristics depending on your needs and you may want to consider them as well as this tree.

For a long-lasting spring explosion of white flowers, the Cleveland Pear is your best choice. The Cleveland Pear trees tend to do well in parking lots, public spaces, and backyards. They have a narrow pyramidal shape that makes them stand out even when they are in tight spaces. One of the best things about this tree is that it has no pests or maintenance requirements whatsoever-so you can simply enjoy your beautiful show! 

Planting & Care

Prepare the site by digging a hole twice the diameter and depth of what you plant in it so the roots can settle comfortably. Then cover with mulch to maintain moisture levels because these trees like lots of light and lots of water. To keep your tree healthy, water it once a week during the spring and summer with 5 gallons of water. During winter, watering once every month is sufficient. If your tree struggled to stay alive this past summer or you have a young (less than four years old) tree that needs extra care you should water every two weeks instead.

Tree care in the fall starts by fertilizing at least six weeks before your first frost of the season. You want to fertilize with something that has a general-purpose fertilizer like 10-10-10, not one specific for flowers and container plants. Pruning trees during the autumn season keeps them healthy and strong, but only removes branches if they are low to the ground or damaged. Any branch that creates a downhill pull should also be removed.

The Best Shade Trees in Alabama

Live Oak Tree

Few trees are as colossal and awe-inspiring as the Live Oak Tree. It’s an easy, large grower, ultimately reaching up to 80 feet tall and 100 feet wide. Thriving in rich, coastal soils and along banks of streams and rivers, moss drapes over its long branches and dances with each breeze, giving it one of the most distinctive appearances of any tree.

Plus, you can expect long-lived elegance. The Live Oak’s strong, heavy wood stands up to high winds and coastal storms with ease. And it’s aptly named, enlivened with evergreen foliage that shines year-round, through hot summers and harsh winters (even keeping A/C costs down in the summer). 

Planting & Care

When planting Live Oak trees, always keep the roots from coming in contact with structures, streets, or sidewalks. Choose an area that has well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight each day. When you have dug your hole, make it twice as wide as its diameter and as deep as the root ball’s height, then fill it with backfill soil until firm. Consider watering the planting area thoroughly, which will help better saturate it. A 2-3 inches layer of mulch can be helpful around the tree to decrease chances for weed infection and mildew growth. Check moisture content weekly to get a feel for when watering should take place. In warmer climates, you may need to water more than once per week, while decreasing frequency during cooler weather.

Oak trees experience a quick spring growth spurt in the spring, which is followed by slower spurts throughout the summer and fall. Apply your fertilizer before this initial spurt to avoid harming tree roots. The best fertilizers for oak trees are those with a 12-6-6 or 12-4-8 ratio. While oak trees don’t require feeding per se, occasional fertilization can help increase both growth rate and acorn production. Many shrubs and trees need to be trimmed during the winter months. Newly planted trees need to be pruned by two to three years old. Developmental trimming should start at this time, too.

Chinese Pistache Tree

The Chinese Pistache is a medium-to-large deciduous hardwood tree that can make a beautiful addition to larger home landscapes. The Chinese Pistache’s blazing fall foliage cannot be matched with colorless and dormancy season trees. When other trees are without colors, the Chinese Pistache stands out in multiple shades of reds, oranges, and yellows.

These unique trees will be the talk of your neighborhood because they’ll outshine all of the other trees in your neighbor’s yards with their colorful and brightly lit canopies. What makes them even better is that, unlike maples, these have a very distinct exotic look. This tree has lush green leaves in spring and summer so you always have a shady area to relax under from direct sunlight. This tree is also great for intense heat like it would be on a driveway or home since it tolerates both dry conditions and gets hot well. You could put it anywhere as long as it’s dense through – any urban environment will do!  

Planting & Care

Pistache trees prefer full sun and well-draining soil. Dig a hole 4 to 5 times as wide as the root ball (about 3 feet deep) in an open, sunny area before backfilling. Fill the hole with sand or pea gravel and pour water in tightly to create a level surface. To encourage deep root growth, water your Pistache tree twice a week for the first month. To ensure you are watering deeply enough, place a garden hose next to the base of the tree and turn it on at low intensity.

Fertilizing your tree keeps it healthy. Younger trees can benefit from a nitrogen-based formula such as superphosphate, which is suitable for younger plants that grow no more than 2 to 3 feet per year and are less than five years old. Follow the guidelines provided by the manufacturer when applying this type of fertilizer to your plant. It’s a good idea to start by trimming the top of your tree. Pick one main trunk and cut the other trunks so that branches are distributed symmetrically along with it. Repeat this process until you’ve achieved your goal of having branches distributed evenly from top to bottom.

The Best Fruit Trees in Alabama

Powderblue Blueberry

Seeking to plant blueberries for the first time? The Powderblue will be a perfect fit. Although blueberries thrive in all climates, varieties like the Powderblue can replace your home garden’s other plants. The Powderblue requires fewer chill hours and grows vigorously in moderate to hot temperatures. This variety is tolerant of drought conditions and doesn’t need pruning or pest management, making it an easy-to-grow choice for any home gardener. 

Planting & Care

You can grow your Powderblue blueberry in your garden or pot. Planting depends on the following conditions: full sun, acidic soil, and 10 feet between other plants. First dig a hole that will accommodate its root ball, then place it in the ground and backfill it with dirt. Finally, water the area to keep the soil moist for harvest time. Powderblue Blueberries are not self-fertile and will need another variety of Rabbiteye blueberry, like Premier Blueberry to thrive.

The most important thing about Powderblue blueberries is that they need to be watered once a week in the first year. The best sign of when to water them are leaves on the plant, which will happen as soon as you see any green coming up at all. You should only water your plant if it seems dry two or three inches deep down into the ground. Once your plant has fully matured, you only need to fertilize it during June and again in fall (just before winter). If you want to prune your Powderblue Blueberry hedge, wait until late winter.

Harvester Peach Tree

The Harvester Peach Tree is a small, dwarf variety that produces peaches even during your first season of growth. It is one of these highest-yielding trees for those looking to enjoy peaches fresh from their backyard. It grows and thrives in various soil types, thriving in partial or full sun and tolerating heat and humidity. Harvester Peach trees are easy to care for and survive heat and humidity making them a good choice for those with less yard space as well. 

Planting & Care

Plant your Harvester peach tree in well-drained soil and an area where it will receive full sun. To prevent the tree from whistling or snapping during high wind, plant on a sunny side of the building: home, barn…etc. When digging the hole, make sure to go at least twice as wide as the root ball and just as deep. Place trees and cover roots with soil before gently patting down dirt so that you don’t break the roots when putting them in place. Harvester Peach trees are self-fertile. One plant will give you fruit, but adding another tree can increase your crop size considerably.

The soil around your Harvester Peach Tree should be kept moist. This can usually be done by watering once every week or two for at least a couple of hours and then checking that the moisture has soaked in, thus diminishing water coming out from the bottom of the tree. Yellowing leaves on your tree means it is being overwatered while dry, brown leaves mean it may need more water.

If you wish to grow a harvester peach tree, start by applying one pound of fertilizer formula 12-12-12 six weeks following planting. Repeat this in the spring and summer as well as necessary for proper growth. The best time to prune your tree is during the first two years. Maintain your tree’s appearance by trimming away any broken/dead branches and those that criss-cross one another, by making further cuts at a 45-degree angle. Ensure the trees can grow without crowding each other by thinning out hardwoods to create space for growing peaches. You’ll know when they’re ripe because they will have wilted skin with almost no green on it, and will come off easily with a twist.

When is The Best Time to Plant Trees in Alabama

You can plant in Alabama anytime, except during the fall. Fall planting can lead to higher mortality rates due to cold snaps and winter storms. Spring is a great time to plant because it ensures your tree will have plenty of water from all the freshly melted snow in your area. The soil is still loose, and the ground warms up quickly. Planting during the winter months can also be done regardless of where you live in the state, even if it is a desert or swampy area. Planting trees in the winter requires less water than plants that are grown during other seasons and will not have to deal with any bugs or diseases. A tree’s root system also has more time to grow before having to contend with hot summers or cold winters, which makes them more stable when they get older.

Can You Plant All Season Long?

If you’re looking to plant all season in Alabama, then the answer is yes! A lot of vegetables and herbs can be grown year-round in Alabama. For example, we grow cool-season plants such as lettuce, broccoli, peas, spinach, and peppers all year long. Warm-season crops like tomatoes will not produce well during the winter months because of a lack of sunlight exposure. A garden designed with hot-season crops and plants that provide color through the winter will work best for our state’s climate.

What are The Best Trees to Plant Each Season in Alabama

Springtime

Springtime is an excellent time for flowering varieties such as Cherry Blossoms or Dogwoods which attract birds and butterflies into your yard while providing beauty year-round. 

Summertime

In the summer, you want plants that thrive in hot and humid conditions; this includes red maple, live oak, and bald cypress. All three of these are fast-growing trees that can grow to large sizes at a young age! Live oaks have an impressive shade canopy so they’re perfect for your yard if it’s not shaded by any other tree species or structures nearby.

Fall time

The most popular trees to plant in the fall are maple, sweetgum, and willow. These trees grow well in Alabama during the fall because they have a nice orange-red color when they change colors from green to red. They also produce an impressive amount of beautiful leaves that can be enjoyed by all!

Wintertime

During the winter, evergreen trees are a great option (Cedar Trees and Pine Trees). With these, you’ll have a little mountain range that will protect you from snowfall or cold winds. In the cold months, different plants with more frost-hardy roots may be in order. These plants include Magnolia Trees, Crape Myrtle, and Bald Cypress Trees.

What Trees Have The Least Invasive Roots in Alabama

You may have heard of oak, poplar, or pine trees as they are considered to be invasive with deep roots but those species aren’t the best for rooting systems in Alabama. The three least invasive tree roots in Alabama are found in these three species: Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum), and Red Maple (Acer rubrum).  You can also choose a palm tree because they can grow without any soil at all!