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Minnesota Guide to Growing Trees

If you’re new to the Minnesota area, or just looking for some tips on how to grow trees in your yard, this guide will help! We’ll cover everything from picking out a tree that’s right for your climate and soil type, to planting it properly.

trees in minnesota

The Best Flowering Trees to Grow in Minnesota

Miss Kim Lilac Tree

The Miss Kim Lilac Tree’s pleasant aroma makes it a popular conversation piece. It is no wonder why its reputation precedes itself. And whether planted in your garden or at the entryway, it is an elegant statement. Plant multiples for a striking display of color that doubles as a screen. You can even clip and bring inside Miss Kim Lilac’s aroma.

The other wonderful thing the Miss Kim Lilac does is turn color, with a heavy concentration of lavender-blue lilac blooms in May and pale pink blooms present from summer into fall. Miss Kim Lilac trees are just as impressive when their petals transition from green to dark purple. Easy care for an entire year, these multifaceted trees offer homeowners a top-of-the-line yard all year long.

Planting & Care

The Miss Kim Lilac flowering trees prefer full sun to partial shade. In warm climates, the plants like afternoon shade. Ensure your Lilac is planted in an area with well-drained soil and at least 4 hours of sunlight daily. After choosing the right planting zone, dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the size of your new tree’s container. Tamp down once you have filled in this hole with soil by running your foot over it until there are no more air pockets. To ensure the protection of roots and conserve moisture, you should water the newly planted tree before mulching.

The best time to plant Lilacs is in the spring. They like moist but not wet soil so they will need watering during this stage (once or twice a week sometimes more). The soil must dry 1 to 2 inches before watering again. If you plan to fertilize your Lilac, be sure to do it in early spring with a  10-10-10 fertilizer to encourage growth and blooms. A few branches in the Lilac need to be trimmed, but fading flowers should be removed immediately.

Little Lime Hydrangea Tree

This dwarf Limelight Hydrangea provides the perks of a larger tree without taking up too much room in your landscaping. The Little Lime can handle tight garden borders, container gardens, and even landscaping along your driveway.

The Little Lime Hydrangea offers a rich color and is perfect in every season, but most especially during the spring and summer months when they bloom with a bright shade of lime green blossoms that lasts all year long. The Little Lime is also frost-resistant so it can be planted any time throughout the year without fear of early death by ice or snow. Plant your tree from March through May for maximum blooming success!

Planting & Care

Select a location that receives full sun for 6-8 hours and has well-drained soil. To plant your tree, dig a hole two times the width and depth of the roots on its root ball. Place the tree in the hole, tamp down the soil around it, water to help settle its roots and add mulch to help conserve moisture near it.

A Little Lime Hydrangea plant needs about 6 to 8 inches of water each week. Check the soil around the plant for dryness, then add more if necessary. Apply general-purpose fertilizer to your plant and follow the instructions on the label for best results. Evaluate and prune Hydrangeas annually during the late winter, as blooms come from new wood.

The Best Shade Trees in Minnesota

Green Gable Black Gum Tree

One of the things that people love about a Green Gable black gum is its vibrant red leaves in fall. These leaves appear in autumn and are known for their stunning fall colors. This tree will provide a fresh, nostalgic feeling to any yard at a given time. In summer, as well as spring, this dark green-leafed tree has a uniform shape that looks extraordinary from winter silhouettes. 

Planting Green Gable Black Gum trees in Minnesota is a good idea because they are not susceptible to disease or pest infestations. This means that you and your family will be able to enjoy these trees for many years (which may live up to 250 years) without the worry of them dying on their own.

Planting & Care

The Green Gable requires plenty of suns to develop a solid root system but also needs well-drained soil. The trees will be unstable in high winds, so plant them where they can be secured with a stake. When you are ready to plant your tree, make a hole large enough for its root ball. Then place the tree inside and backfill with soil before watering. You can put mulch around the base of the tree for better water retention as well.

Begin watering trees twice a week for 45 minutes during the first few weeks after planting. After watering, water your tree only when it begins to go through dry spells. For 90 minutes, use deep watering or drip irrigation. Add a slow-release fertilizer around the base of your tree as it matures. Alternatively, you might choose to prune your tree in the winter. Pruning low branches will provide better shade during the summer.

Autumn Blaze Red Maple Tree

Maple is one of the best types of trees to plant in Minnesota. In addition, Autumn Blaze Red Maple provides a reliable red fall color that you can’t find anywhere else. With such fast growth, these trees grow at 3 to 5 feet per year or more, which means this dazzling show will be quick too!

It’s no wonder why the Autumn Blaze Red Maple seems to be the most popular new tree introduction in history. They are hassle-free when it comes to maintenance, and these trees can thrive with a minimal amount of fuss. Even better, they seem unbothered by car exhaust and therefore making them perfect for planting down neighborhood streets. These trees also have quite a large range of soil conditions that they go well with and will grow in various climates. It will resist insects and disease while still holding in lush leaves well past fall. All these reasons make the Autumn Blaze perfect for Minnesota.

Planting & Care

Autumn Blaze Maple requires full sun (6-8 hours a day) and well-drained soil to grow. When planting, create a hole 2x the width of the root ball using twice as much dirt. Position the tree along its long axis in the center of the hole with roots clear of any nearby structures. Tamp down your irrigation as you fill with soil then heap mulch around for surface moisture conservation.

Your tree will do just fine if you provide rainwater, but one of the best ways to help your trees thrive is by watering them regularly, ideally twice each week. If you’re not sure when to water, simply dig into the soil about 2 inches deep; if it’s dry at that level, it’s time for a fresh drink!

In Minnesota, Autumn Blaze Maples typically do best when nitrogen levels are high. Therefore, look for fertilizer bags that have high first numbers such as 16-4-8 or 12-4-8 formula combinations. Thin young plants to 3 to 4 main branches by cutting off the tips. Cut just above where a pair of leaves attach. Cut using sterilized tools for a clean and healthy plant.

The Best Fruit Trees in Minnesota

Top Hat Blueberry Bush

If you like the flavor of blueberries, then you’ll love these! The Top Hat blueberries are small berries that are packed with intense flavor, perfect for adding to salads and more. It is delicious and easily grown, but the taste is better if you plant more than one for cross-pollination. We carry a large selection of different blueberries so that you can find the perfect match for your Top Hat.

As small trees, there are many places to plant one of these. They’re perfect for patios and balconies, they can also be container plants on decks or in gardens next to flowers. These are great for adding color into small spaces while still enjoying the delicious fruit it produces!

The vivid blueberries are the star of this plant, but its foliage and perfect blossoms aren’t far behind, especially considering they perform on a yearly color-changing show. Small white flowers emerge in the spring with glossy green leaves before unveiling medium-sized blueberries that ripen in the summer and fade to orange throughout fall. The color contrast between the three trees is surprising given their different types. Some blueberry varieties turn green in autumn, but not this one! The leaves on the Top Hat brighten from orange and red before they fall around October. They’re a great choice if you need more color for a porch or garden setting.

Planting & Care

Blueberry plants grow best in moist soil, not in soggy soil. When planted in soils with a pH higher than 5.5, they do not absorb nutrients as they should and are more likely to contract diseases. Blueberry bushes refuse to grow well if placed into conditions of humid air or standing water. Before planting your blueberry bush, dig a hole that is twice the size of its container and five feet away from other holes. Make sure to put peat moss in each hole before you place the shrub into it. Gently pack soil around.

Blueberry bushes should be watered regularly so the roots have time to establish themselves. Make sure the soil is damp, but not wet to ensure your plants don’t die from either over or under-watering. Light green leaves may indicate overwatering and drooping leaves could mean either too much or too little water.

It is not necessary to fertilize the blueberry bush at the time of planting. You should fertilize twice a year: once in spring and again after harvesting your berries. Be careful about weeding or using gardening tools near these shallow-rooted plants; you can easily harm them by mistake. To keep blueberries within reaching distance, lower branches should be thinned out so that the fruit does not touch the soil and excessively vigorous upright shoots should be thinned out several feet from the ground. Spindly, weak, or dead branches should also be removed annually.

Blueberries grow best in acidic soil and have few pests or diseases. To keep blueberry bushes healthy, plant two varieties next to one another. Like other fruit trees, mulch can help the berries survive temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The blueberry plant can grow up to 3 or 6 feet tall with a width of 3 feet. Some animals are prone to eating them – birds and squirrels, for example – but they’re not very susceptible to insect or disease problems other than those found on nearby plants.

Blueberries are self-incompatible and must be planted near two or more varieties to ensure cross-pollination. Honeybees do not provide enough pollination, so carpenter bees will come in and cut the corollas without providing any helpful assistance. Blueberries operate best when buzz pollinated by bees such as the southeastern blueberry bee native to Northeastern contingencies.

Lingonberry Plant

Lingonberries are related to blueberries and cranberries. They usually grow in cooler, northern climates but can also thrive in coastal areas with mild summers. Lingonberry bushes are self-pollinating plants that produce delicious fruit the size of a small blueberry. These easy-to-grow plants should be planted in pairs for better harvesting results.

Lingonberries are adored all around the world for their aesthetic appeal as a beautiful ground cover plant perfect for framing gardens. Also, the berries taste wonderful and sweet while also being tart.

Lingonberries are often described as “the American cranberry’s sweeter cousin.” They can taste like grapes, strawberries, and cranberries, with a tart zing. Lingonberries are also consumed in other countries during traditional holiday meals that outweigh the usage of cranberries. They’re popular to use in jams, muffins, and scones because people can’t get enough of their unique berry flavor. You’ll be adding an irresistible sweet and sour berry flavor to your favorite recipes as well as tons of nutrients when you snack on them or add them to cereal or yogurt.

Lingonberries are packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, B vitamins, and Calcium to give your immune system a boost. They also contain Potassium to fill you with energy. With only a handful of berries, you can infuse all the best flavors into your favorite dish.

Lingonberries have two harvests per year, one in the summer and a second in the fall. They grow as attractive groundcover plants. Despite hail, ice, snow, poor soil, and severe drought or cold spells that can go below -40 degrees Fahrenheit, the Lingonberry thrives. This tough-to-kill fruit tree will grow in any part of the country except for extremely humid regions. Lingonberries are great for small gardens and planting alongside flowers as they grow about 1 to 2 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide with dark glossy leaves. Their beautiful dark leaves and vibrant white-pink bell-shaped flowers are a delight. This fruit will soon be producing bright red berries for your enjoyment.

Planting & Care

Though lingonberries are more tolerant of shadier conditions, they do best in full sun with well-draining soil. If the soil is alkaline, it can negatively affect lingonberries. It’s best to test your soil to ensure that the pH level is 5.8 or lower for a productive and healthy plant. When planting, make the hole twice as deep and wide as the root ball. Amend and mix compost into the soil to provide nutrients for new growth. Gently pack it while adding water to bind the soil together when wetting is complete. Add 2-3 inches of mulch on top (sawdust, peat, straw) for added protection from weeds and insects.

Some trees, like lingonberries, need the right mixture of soil and are often grown indoors or in containers. If you choose to produce a container version of this plant, they will grow best in a location with full sun and moist soils. The spring season will yield small fruit and there should be a larger yield during the summertime.

Keep the soil moist but not wet. Avoid letting the water dry completely between monthly watering sessions to get optimal results, regardless of the season. When planting your lingonberry plants, be sure to give them enough water. Mulching also helps conserve moisture and suppresses competing weeds which can suck the life out of young lingonberries.

Lingonberries require little to no maintenance for the first few years. In year one, cut back 6-8 vigorous canes around mid-June to late July after they are bearing fruit. These trees also require little to no fertilizing when growing well. If you notice slow growth, feed the plants with a low nitrogen organic fertilizer such as a 5-10-10 formula or compost.

The color of lingonberries is what will best determine when they are ready. Unripened fruit has a very bitter taste whereas ripened fruit has an acidic, yet tart taste.

When is The Best Time to Plant Trees in Minnesota

The best time to plant trees in Minnesota is usually in the spring when you can find the best selection of trees and plant them close to their final destination. The soil should be moist, not frozen or too dry which is important if planting from seed as this will help get a good germination rate.

Can You Plant All Season Long?

Planting all season long in Minnesota is not recommended. Your best bet is to plant trees in the mid-spring months. This will give them plenty of time to establish before the hot summer season sets in.

What are The Best Trees to Plant Each Season in Minnesota

Springtime

In spring, you can plant maple, oak, elm, and ash trees. These varieties of trees are best for the spring because they are not as susceptible to frost.

Summertime

In the summer months, plant trees that are used to warm, dry climates such as cedar. 

Fall time

Cottonwood is your best bet for planting in the fall as they are mainly a deciduous tree that sheds their leaves during wintertime. Planting evergreen-like spruce or pine tree would be better suited for this time of year. 

Wintertime

Maple and ash are two tree types that grow well during winters in Minnesota but prefer warmer temperatures than what typically occurs here so make sure your soil is warm before planting them if this applies to you!

What Trees Have The Least Invasive Roots in Minnesota

The least invasive trees in Minnesota are cottonwoods and elms. These trees have shallow roots that stay close to the surface, so they are less likely to become a nuisance for other plants or landscaping structures in your yard.