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Montana Guide to Growing Trees

Trees are a big part of Montana’s culture. They provide shade, beauty, and wildlife habitat to some of the most spectacular landscapes in America. Show your love for these majestic giants with this guide to growing trees from one of our favorite places on Earth!

Montana Trees

The Best Flowering Trees to Grow in Montana

Sargent Crabapple Tree

The Sargent Crabapple is compact, easy to maintain, and has colorful blooms in the spring and bright red fruit in the fall. Snow of white flowers in the spring with greenery during summer. They offer nearly year-round color for your landscape. This cultivar is an alternate bearing with heavy blooms every other year. In the spring, red and pink buds turn into fragrant white blossoms, while dense green foliage turns yellow in the fall. Clusters of small, bright-red fruit survive into summer and beyond to provide winter interest.

The Sargent Crabapple has a compact size that makes it ideal for smaller yards. Use the tree to create a privacy hedge, along fence lines and patios or sidewalks, or as an ornamental tree in mixed borders when planted at maturity. These trees are ideal for those who love watching wildlife, as it attracts birds and butterflies with its fragrant flowers and bright red fruit. The Sargent’s dense foliage, branching pattern, and easy propagation qualities make it a great choice for Bonsai gardens. This variety of crabapples can be used to pollinate apple trees, resulting in more apples!

Planting & Care

The Sargent Crabapple grows in alkaline to acidic soil, prefers moist well-draining soils, and needs full sun. When planting your tree, dig a hole large enough to accommodate the ball of roots and place it into it. Backfill with soil then water the surrounding area around the root ball to settle roots.

One thing to keep in mind is that Sargent Crabapple trees require moist soil for the best growth. In areas with moderate rainfall, watering once or twice a week will suffice—in drier areas, check your soil and water when 3 inches of it have dried out below the surface. A 5-5-5 fertilizer should be applied at the beginning of each spring. The Sargent Crabapple requires minimal pruning; just lightly trim off any damaged branches in winter.

Bloomerang Lilac Tree

The Bloomerang Lilac Tree is a small-scale tree that will never grow beyond 12 feet tall. It typically reaches about five to six feet wide and has an upright, rounded shape with dark green leaves. The Bloomerang’s foliage is evergreen which means it can provide some color through the winter months in Montana. Some gardeners also use this as a shrub for planting under windows or near patios because of its fragrance!

In colder climates like Montana, trees are often planted in groups because they’ll be more tolerant of cold temperatures and other elements than if you grew them individually. The Bloomerang Lilac is perfect for planting in high-traffic areas like patios, pools, and beyond. It’s a dwarf plant that can be found anywhere in your yard.

Planting & Care

After considering all possible spots to grow your tree, identify a nice sunny spot for planting. For a new tree, find an area that drains well and has 6 hours of sun. Measure out where the root ball sits (2 ft in every direction). Pull the base of the tree from above and fill in with dirt as you water it down.

To keep your Lilac trees alive, plan to water them about once a week before they establish roots – usually within the first year. Soil should feel damp two or three inches down if it’s time to water.

The only fertilizing that should be done on a Bloomerang tree is after it starts blooming, using either a well-balanced fertilizer or maybe once or twice yearly. Prune once they have started blooming for sizing and shaping purposes. To ensure a healthy root system, you should remove the faded flowers- this will allow your tree to focus its energy on its roots.

The Best Shade Trees in Montana

Crimson Sentry Norway Maple Tree

The Crimson Sentry Maple provides beautiful purple leaves all summer, along with its brilliant colors in fall. This Crimson also has heavy upright branching and small stature, which makes it suitable for near-term use.

Planting Crimson Sentry Norway Maple trees in Montana is a beautiful solution to your landscape needs. The Crimson Sentry is an easy-to-grow, compact tree that has rich maroon leaves all summer and reddish-bronze tones in the fall on its sculptural shape. Not only does the Crimson Sentry have gorgeous, red color, but it’s also hardy due to its resistance to pollution and wet swamps.

Planting & Care

Crimson Maples can tolerate wet soil and enjoy well-drained areas but will lose their leaves in hotter regions without enough sunlight. Plant this tree where it has at least four hours of sun per day and avoid hot summer climates. From there, dig a planter for your Sentry Maple that is 2 to 3 times the width of your tree’s root ball and equal depth. Place your tree in the planting hole and fill it with some soil to maintain its upright position. Water thoroughly after you’re done.

Watering your Crimson Sentry Maple during its early years is crucial – you should water it every week. The tree will still need to be watered even as it matures, but make sure not to overwater or have drought conditions; the wilt of leaves will identify a problem with watering.

Your new Maple will need a monthly dose of slow-release fertilizer the first year you plant it. 10-10-10 will be sufficient: fertilize just before dormancy, when the leaves begin to fall, and once in late summer. Be sure to stop fertilizing before your tree goes dormant for the upcoming season. After the leaves have fully matured, remove all dead or dying branches. This will give you a better idea of what your tree looks like and how many of the live branches you are going to need to cut.

Silver Maple Tree

One of the most popular trees in Montana that is easy to maintain and transplants easily are the silver maple tree. The Silver Maple Tree is a great shade tree for Montana because it has enchanting silver colors and steady growth. It’s also well-suited to wet spots or street borders, so it can survive in pretty much any environment! Plant our Silver Maple Trees and enjoy the benefits for years to come! After planting a Silver Maple Tree it will grow about 3 feet each year resulting in a shade that is reliable, evergreen, and looks great in your backyard.

Planting & Care

The Silver Maple tree can be planted in any soil condition, though it does prefer wet bottomlands. It prefers 4-8 hours of sunlight daily and should not be placed near power lines, sewer lines, or sidewalks.

This tree can do well in both wet and dry conditions. Be sure to water it weekly when it’s young so that there is enough growth, but if you live in a place where drought occurs on occasion, you may need to keep watering weekly throughout its life. Pruning your tree in the early spring can prevent them from breaking during poor weather conditions. Prune at least one of the weaker branches, including ones that are dead or diseased.

The Best Fruit Trees in Montana

Lowbush Blueberry

The Lowbush Blueberry, a lesser-known subspecies of the Highbush Blueberry bush blueberries, has at least two points of interest for gardeners. Blueberry bushes are an easy way to diversify your fruit garden with a tasty berry that is well-liked by both adults and children.

Planting & Care

Blueberries require full sun and well-draining soil to thrive. Blueberry plants must be planted in acidic, pH 5.5, or lower soils for the plant to absorb nutrients adequately and resist disease more effectively.

To plant a Lowbush Blueberry, dig a hole about twice the size of the root ball. Amend the soil with peat moss or sawdust and place your blueberry bush in it. Cover the roots with soil-peat moss mix and make sure there are no air pockets left before sealing off any gaps between dirt and the bottom of your pot or container so that water can’t seep out around the roots.

Your blueberry shrubs will need to be watered regularly, but take care not to over-water. Keep an eye out for drooping leaves as a sign of overwatering or under-watering your plants, and only water them when the soil is dry. Fertilize the blueberry bush with an acid-lover fertilizer twice a year, once in the spring and once after harvesting. Lowbush Blueberry plants need to be pruned every other year, and any less productive or damaged branches should also be removed.

Lingonberry Plant

Lingonberries are a cross between raspberry, cranberry, and sour apple. Lingonberries are a beautiful ground cover plant with excellent aesthetic appeal, and they also taste good. They’re tart with a sweet-tart flavor that adds depth to any dish while providing color and bursts of vitamins.

In addition to their many uses in sweet and savory dishes, berries make a healthy snack for any time of day. These bushes are packed with vitamin A, C, B vitamins, calcium, and potassium to give your immune system a boost and provide energy much quicker than other types of berries.

Growing Lingonberries allows you to harvest two batches, one in mid-summer and a second when fall arrives. Find the berries growing atop a ground cover plant with vines that produce vibrant red fruit. The Lingonberry tree is an especially hardy fruit-producing plant that can survive frost and temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lingonberries are perfect for flower beds and framing porches because they stay small. Their dark glossy leaves serve as a lush backdrop to bright flowers in your yard. 

Planting & Care

Although lingonberries can withstand arctic temperatures, in very harsh climates they may have to be covered with material such as peat and sawdust during the winter. They also prefer well-draining soil and do not like an overly alkaline pH of 6 or higher.

The best time to plant a lingonberry is right after the last spring frost. Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and just deep then cover with about two inches of compost before tilling it in with an auger or garden fork. The planting site should be watered before adding mulch to keep the soil moist and make it easier for seedlings to establish.

When potting, use soil with high levels of peat moss. Lingonberries need a soil pH of about 5.0, as well as lots of peat moss in the soil with an inch or two of sawdust layered on top for mulch to help conserve moisture. These berries grow best when they are watered frequently and have full sun exposure. Container-grown Lingons will produce fruit twice a year, and their crop in spring is much smaller than at other times during the year.

Water often keeps the ground damp. If you live in a climate where there is not much rain, make sure that you water every couple of days to maintain a healthy lawn. For the first year, add an inch of water each week (about one inch of rainfall equals about one gallon). After the lingonberry bush gets established, it will only need around an inch of water per week to thrive. Making sure you occasionally water your plants is crucial to getting the most productivity out of them. Applying mulch more often is a good idea as well because it can improve moisture retention and prevent weed growth in this area.

Lingonberry bushes are a lot easier to maintain than other types of trees. For the first few years, they require little or no maintenance beyond trimming back dead branches near the beginning of summer. If plants are getting enough growth each year, it is recommended to not fertilize them. If the plant is lacking in growth or looking unhealthy, fertilizing with a lower nitrogen organic fertilizer such as 5-10-0 or compost may be helpful.

Treelings will remit their taste after a few weeks, so sort through the berries before harvesting. Unripened lingonberries will have a much more bitter flavor than ripened ones.

When is The Best Time to Plant Trees in Montana

The best time to plant trees in Montana is in the fall. Planting trees in the fall in Montana allows the roots to have plenty of time to establish themselves before winter sets in. Trees should be planted so that their roots are at least two feet deep and four inches wide, or a minimum of three to five years old before they can be transplanted into Montana’s climate zone. 

Can You Plant All Season Long?

It is not possible to plant all season long in Montana. After the first planting, it would need to rest a month before you plant again. Planting trees too soon after your first planting can traumatize the roots. Also, keep in mind that warmer temperatures present less risk than cold ones when it comes to damaging trees and shrubs by premature planting, you can’t count on frost protection from mulch layers alone!

What are The Best Trees to Plant Each Season in Montana

Springtime

Planting a tree in Montana during spring is a good idea as this time of year has warm weather. To get the best results, Arborvitae, Dogwood, Apple trees, White Pines, or Douglas Firs would be perfect for planting in your yard.

Summertime

If you have a big yard and want to create that natural feeling, planting an evergreen will be the best option as they provide shade during summer. They also emit oxygen both day and night which is beneficial for all living creatures. Tree varieties recommended for planting in summertime Montana include birch, Colorado blue spruce, and Siberian Elm.

Fall time

Trees such as Chestnut Oak or Red Maple can beautify your surroundings from autumn until wintertime with their fall foliage colors while attracting birds who would search out seeds on them too!  Three other trees worth planting in fall time Montana include Ash, Black Walnut, and Eastern Red Cedar.

Wintertime

One of the best trees to plant is a cedar tree as they can withstand adverse weather conditions like snowfall, ice storms, or high winds. Other good options for winter season planting are Maple, Oak, and Western Hemlock which will attract wildlife to your yard too! 

What Trees Have The Least Invasive Roots in Montana

The least invasive trees in Montana are the Cottonwoods, Ponderosa Pine, and Grey Alder. The invasive roots of these trees rarely penetrate other tree root systems. They also have shallow surface roots which make them a perfect choice for planting in areas with water-bearing clay soils such as near septic tanks or wells.