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North Carolina Guide to Growing Trees

North Carolina is a beautiful state filled with rolling hills, a long coastline, and plenty of forests. If you are a North Carolina resident and have been looking for the best way to grow trees, then this guide is for you. We also give some helpful tips on how to identify good spots for planting your new trees!

Trees in North Carolina

The Best Flowering Trees to Grow in North Carolina

Sweetbay Magnolia Tree

The Sweetbay Magnolia Tree is a dense shade tree with beautiful, creamy-white blooms in late spring and early summer.

While lovely as an ornamental or showpiece tree, this tree has more to offer in terms of pest resistance. This variety is very tolerant of wetness and can even survive standing water. Combine those qualities with the glossy green leaves with a silvered underside signature for the plant and you’ve got yourself a winner! 

Planting & Care

Choosing the right site is vitally important to long-term tree success.  Make sure to choose a location away from sidewalks or driveways as well as the house. Planting on the Northside of your yard will maximize sun exposure and result in more blooms. The site should be organic, well-draining soil and preferably have compost mixed in at the planting hole. Dig a large hole, around 2-3 times as wide and deep as the root ball of the plant. Position the tree straight in the ground before you begin backfilling the hole with soil and water. Mix mulch in the top layer of soil for cooling temps/moisture control after planting

Early on, water the Sweetbay tree frequently and heavily. Once its root system is developed (within the first two years), check to see when it’s dry and water as necessary, or twice a week for at least 4-6 weeks during tree growing season. To properly water all of the roots, make sure you give just a little beyond the tips, beyond the edges.

New tree growth can be slowed by malnutrition, which is commonly caused by using the wrong fertilizer. This problem can be avoided by applying a controlled-release fertilizer formula and following the instructions on the label.

If you notice any dead leaves, branches, or flowers on your Magnolia tree, prune them. Remove the branch down to its base when you prune it. Pruning properly will maintain the required shape of your tree and keep the rapid growth of branches under control as your tree continues to grow taller over time. Keep an eye out for lower, dense branches—if needed, they should be pruned too.

Celestial Night Rose Tree

The Celestial Night Rose tree boasts one of the most exquisite blooms of all, with a coloration, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The petals have a deep raspberry-purple tone and the flowers unfurl to reveal glossy, dark green leaves for added contrast.

The Celestial Night Rose Tree offers an impression of a larger tree in a compact footprint. These flowers will grow to be approximately 4-5 feet tall and are well suited for borders, hedges, or accents among a flower assortment. The celestial night rose can also thrive in patio containers and brings color to outdoor spaces during the evening hours.

These roses are not just aesthetically pleasing, but they also have many properties that make them excellent for planting in your garden. They resist disease very well and even cut nicely for floral arrangements or crafts. You’ll love the wildlife these plants attract such as birds and butterflies.

For an idea that just doesn’t exist anywhere else, look no further than the Celestial Night Rose Tree. With a color rare to find in nature, and pleasantly resilient to grow in one of any number of climates it’s easy to see why this is such a great example.

Planting & Care

A full to partial sun location is best, but choose a shadier spot if you have eastern or western exposures that don’t receive more than 4 hours of sunlight per day. To make sure your tree grows, plant at a distance of three feet from its predecessors. Dig a two-foot wide and deep hole, twice the size as the root ball. Replace soil until you have an equal value or slightly larger than the container and place it in one corner of this space. Mulch around the base to keep competing weeds at bay.

When watering trees in the summer months, water them from the ground instead of overhead. If you mulch around the tree, it will help with moisture retention. Care for your trees by adding an organic rose fertilizer once a month, sterilizing your sharp pruning shears with hot water or rubbing alcohol, and pruning at different times of the year depending on your plants. Start by pruning back excess branches in the spring following the last hard freeze to get rid of any dead or ugly branches.

The Best Shade Trees in North Carolina

Bloodgood Japanese Maple

The Bloodgood Japanese Maple Tree is known for its lush, vibrant leaves. Landscape designers love using them because they pop against grass and flower beds. This Japanese Maple’s foliage stays scarlet in contrast to most varieties that only appear that color for a short while. It does, however, lose its vividness during high heat or drought. It is small enough to sit near your home and patio, but still brings plenty of interest if you plant it somewhere else.

The Bloodgood Japanese Maple is up to 15 feet tall, and its roots are well-behaved. Use it as an accent when there’s little space for the distance between buildings or as a property divider.

Planting & Care

Use a spot that gets loads of sun and has well-drained soil. The ideal location for planting most trees is 4-8 hours of sunlight per day, in an area with the soil method that doesn’t freeze or get too wet. Dig it a hole slightly larger than the root ball (about as deep), backfill around it with dirt (after checking for rocks!), water the site, then put mulch on top.

The Japanese maple (like the typical lawn or garden plants) can be adequately watered by supplying it with approximately 1-2 liters of water per week. For best results, these watering sessions should occur in the early morning and evening hours during summers.

Japanese maples need less in the way of nutrients than most trees do. If your other plants in the lawn and yard grow smoothly, you’ll find that your maple tree thrives. Fertilization should be done with a balanced complete fertilizer for shrubs and trees once each year in early spring to keep them healthy.

A newly planted tree needs 2 to 3 years before it becomes firmly rooted in the landscape. After this period, you may begin pruning if desired and find that the process is easy.

Sawtooth Oak Tree

If you want a tree that falls in the category of ‘majestic’ and provides shade coverage but doesn’t have 50 years to wait for one, Sawtooth Oaks may be just what you’re looking for. These Asian trees are popular because they grow rapidly – at between 1 to 3 feet per year – and can reach 30 feet in 15 years.

The Sawtooth Oak tree features a wide canopy due to its spreading habit. This fast-growing tree starts with a pyramidal shape but matures into a broad and rounded canopy. New leaves are bright yellow-green before maturing to lustrous dark mid-green during the summer months. In the fall, these leaves turn rich gold and russet for an attractive display of changing colors.

Planting & Care

To plant a tree, begin by digging a hole that is twice as wide and deep as the root ball. Position the tree in the hole and make sure it’s upright, then fill it with soil to completely cover your roots. Once you’ve done this, push down on the soil until there are no air pockets left behind underground. Cover roots completely with soil, leaving the stem above it. Water and then mulch around the tree’s planting site to retain moisture.

First-time homeowners should make sure their Sawtooth Oak Tree gets water during extended dry spells, particularly in the summer months. If you’re not sure when to water, simply check the surrounding ground at a depth of 3 inches – if there is no moisture here, it’s time to give your residents a drink.

Fertilize carefully. Organic fertilizer high in nitrogen works well if followed according to label instructions. You may use a 10-10-10, 20-20-20, or any other combination of three numbers on the fertilizer for your tree.

The Best Fruit Trees in North Carolina

Wonderful Pineberry

Most people are familiar with the berry family, strawberries, blueberries, etc. But many may not be aware of pineberries–a new strawberry hybrid that is quickly becoming a favorite for chefs and consumers alike. Pineberries are a quick-growing strawberry variant with a white exterior and red interior. They’re not only trendy for their look, but also because of the fruit’s sweet flavor.

These hybrids have a sweet and tart flavor that is reminiscent of pineapple. They are also firm and juicy inside with a texture like that of strawberries. For its twin appearance, this fruit is often abbreviated as ‘pineberry’.

Pineberries are an attractive fruit, but with white skin, they’re more difficult for birds and other critters to see. That means you don’t have to worry about pests coming along and spoiling your harvest. These berries are easy to grow both on the ground and in containers. Plant a few and keep them on your deck or patio for lots of delicious Pineberries. Once you start growing these berries with white skin, instead of the bright red as most strawberries have, your friends will keep coming back to check them out.

Growing pineberries is a fun experience. They produce beautiful white flowers before creating large, unique berries for your foodie kitchen. This plant can withstand colder weather and if it gets too cold they will be OK in pots to bring inside once the temperature drops.

Planting & Care

To grow Wonderful Pineberry trees in North Carolina, find a location that receives full sunlight (at least 6 hours a day). Avoid planting near tall plants or other trees that will compete with the ones you’re trying to grow. The soil needs excellent drainage and an appropriate pH range of 5-7.

Dig down as deep as the roots of your new tree will be and twice as wide. Use a shovel to create a mound of soil in the bottom of the hole that is level with where you want your new tree to stand. Place your root ball on top of this mounded dirt and spread out its roots on either side. Add water to loosened dirt to help find balance. Fill the hole with dirt and tamp the soil to remove air pockets. Pour water into the ground immediately afterward to settle it evenly. Sprinkle mulch around individual plants, but do not pack a lot of it in, as thicker mulch can make your plants suffer because they are hotter.

To best grow pineberries, keep them adequately watered. Give your plants at least an inch of water and up to two inches during the growing season, especially when temps rise. To avoid root rot soil must drain well. Signs of overwatering include yellow leaves and drooping leaves while signs of underwatering include brown or dry leaves.

It is important to apply a fertilizer that has all three elements, nitrogen, phosphates, and potash. Use a special organic fertilizer every month from May until September except for June. The fertilizers should be applied on top of the ground and water well after application because they will work quickly.

Birds and slugs can be a common problem when growing pineberries, although the white skin usually makes it more difficult for them to see. If you have trouble with slugs, cover your plants in bird netting and copper ribbon to keep them away.

Elberta Peach Tree

The Elberta Peach Tree can withstand temperatures as low as -10 degrees Fahrenheit and produces sweet, juicy peaches with a harvest time anywhere from late July to September depending on your climate. The tree will produce a higher number of fruit if grown with another variety.

Elberta Peaches are the world-famous peach trees because of their incomparable flavor, attractive full color, and disease resistance. These trees yield large peaches that are excellent for canning, snacking on as a healthy snack, or baking into delicious baked goods.

Elberta Peach Trees have disease resistance similar to that of apples and other fruit trees. They are also insect resistant, so you can grow organic peaches to your heart’s content.

Planting & Care

Plant your new Elberta Peachtree in moist, well-drained soil that receives full sun for at least six hours a day. Choose the sunniest side of your property to plant on; the Elberta tree cannot survive heavy winds. When you’re ready to plant, dig a hole twice as deep and just as wide as the root ball. Next, place your Elberta into the hole and cover it with soil by watering around its roots periodically until they are covered completely. Pat down any remaining dirt once all roots have been covered to eliminate air pockets.

To keep your Elberta peach tree healthy, make sure to place a hose at the base of the trunk for an hour or so every week and water again when it dries out. Signs that you’re overwatering include yellow leaves and drooping branches. The tree will develop brown, dry leaves if you don’t water enough.

After planting your tree, apply a balanced 12-12-12 fertilizer (or similar ratio) in six weeks. Repeat with some additional fertilizer every spring before new growth starts to push out.

Cut branches at a 45-degree angle to maintain an open center shape for the tree and allow fruit production. Dead/broken branches should be cut away, making it easier to control head height. If two stems are crossing on the branch, make a cut near below where they cross to clean up your cuts better. When your tree begins to fruit, the peaches may be thinned out to provide space for growth. Thinning out the peaches will help increase production. The best indicator of readiness is when there’s no green on the skin and they come off with a slight twist.

When is The Best Time to Plant Trees in North Carolina

When it comes to planting, there are two options: spring and fall. The Fall season offers a few benefits that might entice you to wait until late October or November before digging into your landscaping plans. For starters, cooler temperatures make for fewer watering needs and help reduce some of the weeds that come up with new plants during warmer seasons. You’ll also see an increase in beneficial insects as they migrate from summer habitats to wintering areas.

It’s important not only when but what type of tree you’re looking for when choosing if this is the right time frame for planting them too.

Can You Plant All Season Long?

You may be thinking that the answer is no, but you’ll be surprised to find out that it can.  While North Carolina winters are cold and unforgiving, if you’re planting in an area where protection from winds is provided by a building or hillsides then temperatures will stay above 40 degrees F and soil won’t freeze down far enough for roots to die off. Many areas of North Carolina enjoy milder winter climates than other states because we don’t get as much snowfall due to our coastal location.

What are The Best Trees to Plant Each Season in North Carolina

Springtime

The best trees to plant during springtime are Lilac or Dwarf Dogwood. These two types can tolerate wet soil and also have beautiful flowers during springtime! 

Summertime

The best trees to plant in the summertime are Cherry Laurel and Black Gum. These trees will grow in the shade.

Fall time

The best trees to plant in this season are American Elm, Leyland Cypress, and Paperbark Maple Trees.

Wintertime

The best trees to plant in wintertime are Eastern Red Cedar, Golden Chain, and Swamp White Oak. These hardy North Carolina tree plants will survive even the coldest of winters!

What Trees Have The Least Invasive Roots in North Carolina

The least invasive trees in North Carolina are the Japanese Red Maple, Chinese Elm, and the Azalea.

Japanese Red Maples have a great shade tolerance for both dry soil conditions as well as wet soil conditions; they also do not take up a lot of water because they produce less leaf litter than other species like oaks or maples which may be more susceptible to drought or humidity levels. 

Chinese Elms can grow quite rapidly without much need for fertilizer meaning that their roots stay shallow making them easier to remove if necessary. The tree is also very easy to propagate from cuttings so it doesn’t live long enough around humans before being removed anyway (again, for the sake of safety). 

The Azalea is also an excellent tree to plant because it can grow in a wide range of soil types and environments. They are not invasive, but they do have prickly leaves that could potentially be dangerous if you’re allergic or sensitive to them so consider this before planting one around your home.