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Selecting Trees

When selecting a tree it is important to consider several factors which are outlined below.

 

Function: Why are you planting a tree? Is it for shade, for attractive foliage or flowers or for fruit? Is it to be a wind shelter or add some insulation to your home? Do you wish to use the trees for privacy? One must try to answer these questions in order to intelligently select an appropriate tree.

 

Deciduous or Evergreen: Both have good and bad points. A deciduous tree will have fallen leaves in the fall. On the other hand, if grown on the South or East side of your house, it will shade and cool the house in summer, but allow warming sun to enter in winter after leaves drop. Evergreen trees look good all year, however most of the evergreen plants available for our region are not tall trees, but shrubs.

 

Size: What are the size limitations of you particular landscape? Do you have other trees, power lines or nearby structures? Don’t ever forget to consider the adult height of a tree. Many are planted too close to a building requiring you to start over after a few year of wasted growth.

 

Growing Conditions: You must consider the type of soil, the amount of sunlight and your cold hardiness zone as you pick out your tree. Our hardiness zone is 6B to 7, mostly in zone 7. Make sure your tree is rated for this zone. Also think about the drainage of the planting area, many trees will die in areas that drain poorly.

 

Negative Factors: Consider problems a tree may introduce with dropped seed structures or limbs. Some trees are magnets for undesirable insects, others have thorns or are invasive. Some trees have superficial roots which are problematic and sometimes are destructive to buildings and walkways.

 

With these considerations in mind, the following table is a good place to start when looking for trees. Also, AEP-PSO has an excellent information selecting trees for our area.

 

Tree Tips: AEP-PSO

Trees for Oklahoma: AEP-PSO

 

Trees for Tulsa

Common Name

Height

Spread

Growth Rate

Remarks

Cypress, Bald

70 – 90

40 – 70

Medium

Very tolerant of soil types, pyramidal shape, tough tree for many locations.  Brown fall color. Oklahoma Proven Tree 2000

Cedar, Deodar

40 – 60

25 – 35

Medium

Perhaps the most beautiful of all cedars; interesting blue-green foliage, very pyramidal, may be attacked by bagworms and spider mites.

Gingko 

10 – 30

40 – 50

Slow

Interesting fan shaped foliage, few diseases or insect problems; tough, durable with yellow fall color.  Slow Growth rate. This is a “fun” tree. 

Hackberry

50 – 80

50 – 60

Medium

Tough, native to this area, foliage similar to elm, drought tolerant, many nipple galls (leaf galls). 

Honey Locust (pat. Var.)

50 – 70

40 – 50

Fast

Tough, durable tree, thin foliage, easy to grow grass under; may be plagued by leaf eating insect.  Look for thornless varieties.

Kentucky Coffee Tree

50 – 80

40 – 60

Medium

Tough, durable tree, female tree bears large seed pods, few insect and disease problems.

Linden, American

50 – 80

40 – 60

Medium to Fast

Large foliage with bright yellow fall color.  Surface roots, few insect and disease problems. 

Magnolia, Southern

60 – 80

50 – 60

Slow

Large, glossy green foliage, large plate size white flowers in early summer; needs good deep moist soil.

Maple, Red

50 – 60

40 – 50

Medium

Superior in every way to silver maple, red to orange fall color; some surface roots which causes problems.

Maple, Sugar

60 – 80

50 – 70

 Slow to Medium

Slowest growing maple common to this area; gorgeous red to yellow fall color, one of the deepest rooted maples. Caddo variety good choice.

Oaks

30 – 80

40 – 60

Slow to Medium

Oaks are one of the toughest, most adapted family of trees in our region. Many good varieties. 

Pistache, Chinese

25 – 40

20 – 30

Medium

Tough, durable tree for dry poor soil sites, compound foliage, bright orange fall color, few diseases or insect problems. One of the best choices.

Soapberry, Western

30 – 50

25- 40

Medium to Fast

Durable, tough tree, yellow fall color in the early fall; few insect and disease problems.

Sweetgum

60 – 90

40 – 60

Medium

Excellent red to yellow fall color, may be surface rooted, seed balls are a problem around drives and patios. A very tough tree.

“True” Chinese Elm

30 – 45

25- 40

Fast

Tough, disease and insect resistant tree.  Interesting colorful bark, yellow fall color, Dutch elm resistant.  Many varieties. Ice Damage likely

Tulip Tree

50 – 80

50 – 60

Fast

Smallish tulip-like blooms in June; may have surface roots.  Bright yellow foliage in fall. Prefers deep well drained soil.

Japanese Zelkova

50 – 70

50 – 50

Medium

Foliage and tree very similar to American Elm; not bothered by Dutch Elm disease; yellow fall color. Very interesting bark.

Pines

40 – 80

20 – 40

Medium to Fast

There are better alternatives to planting pines, but if you need a pine, choose natives that are pine wood nematode resistant, such as white, pinyon, short-leaf, loblolly, limber.

Flowering Trees

Crabapple

10 – 40

10 – 30

Medium to Fast

Great variety in fruit size, flower color and tree size.  Generally tough and tolerant of soil types.

Crapemyrtle

12 – 30

10 – 25

Fast

Excellent, fast growing, durable small tree, free of insect or serious disease problems.  Flowers white to red.  One of our favorites.

Dogwood

15 – 30

15 – 30

Medium

Needs excellent drainage, partial shade in mid-afternoon, red fall color, white to red spring flowers, colorful red fruit in fall. Many different varieties.

Golden Rain Tree

30 – 40

25 – 30

Medium

Tough durable tree.  Flowers in early to mid-summer, may be bothered by box elder bugs

Hawthorne

10 – 25

10 – 20

Medium

Very durable, tough, white blooming tree, but may be plagued by leaf-eating insects and rust disease

Redbud

15 – 30

15 – 30

Medium

Tolerant of soil types and full sun, pink or white flowers, State Tree

Service Berry

15 – 25

10 – 20

Slow

White flowers before foliage, tough, durable.  Edible fruit.  Drought tolerant.

Star-Saucer Magnolia

20 – 35

20 – 25

Medium

Abundant flowers before foliage in late March, tough, durable, usually multi-stem; late frost may damage blooms.

Smoke Tree

15 – 20

10 – 15

Medium

Large loose panicles of pinkish bloom in May or June.  Foliage varies from bright green to purple.  Another favorite.

Viburnums

2 – 20

1 - 10

Medium

May different varieties, forms and colors.  Most are very tough and tolerant to Northeast Oklahoma.  Lots of choices.

 

Tulsa County Master Gardeners

4116 East 15th Street

Tulsa, OK 74112

918-746-3701

tulsamastergardeners.org

 

 

Slow – 6 to 8 inches per year

Medium – 8 to 12 inches per year

Fast – 12 inches or more per year