Gardening in Texas: Part 2 – Planting Texas Trees

By Ebony Porter, February 19, 2016, Green

Welcome to Gardening In Texas from Bounce Energy! We hope this series will steer you in the direction of planting a green Texas garden with a eco-friendly lifestyle in mind. We’ll discuss shaping a garden that uses less water, grows in harmony with animal and insect life in the area, and provides you with more than just a pretty view.

Planting Texas Trees

Gardening in Texas: Part 2 - Planting Texas Trees

Texas! More than just oil fields, cowboy boots, and high school football.

We often take trees for granted, and many folks prefer to cut them down or yank them out to avoid having to clean up the leaves a few times a year. But let us remind you, the world is a much nicer place with trees!

  • Trees provide habitat for birds, butterflies, bees, moths, squirrels, and many beneficial insects that contribute to a healthier ecosystem.
  • They give our backyards and homes shade from the oppressive Texas sun – especially during the summer months. When a home is shaded by a tree, cooling and electricity costs are lowered, and your HVAC system doesn’t have to work so hard to cool your home.
  • If you live in a major city or near highways, the leaves from trees absorb pollution.
  • Trees provide oxygen!
  • They beautify. If your home backs up to something unsightly, plant trees! Wouldn’t you rather look at the sinuous branches of a tree as opposed to a painted brick wall or the back of a generic building?

This installment of our Gardening in Texas series might discuss just a few of the hundreds of trees growing beautifully across our diverse state, but we’re going to focus on important trees that provide shade and those grown for their ornamental beauty.

Made in the Shade

Ideal for providing cool shade on a hot summers day or blocking the sun from warming up your home, these native shade trees grow tall enough to provide a shade-bearing canopy. You can also expect to grow trees large enough to provide a sound habitat for wildlife. But don’t plant these right up against your home. Root growth can potentially interrupt your sewage system or foundation.

Longleaf Pine – Also known as a loblolly pine, these are native to East Texas. They grow fast and tall, some up to 100 feet! An evergreen, it thrives in the hot sun and only requires moderate watering. Plant one today, and use it each Christmas as your outdoor Christmas tree by covering it with lights! Its branches also double up to use as a natural Christmas decoration in organic arrangements.

Gardening in Texas: Part 2 - Planting Texas Trees

Bald Cypress – If you’ve ever spent time in the Texas Hill Country along the Guadalupe or Blanco Rivers, then you are likely familiar with the Cypress trees found growing along their banks. The larger ones look like something out of a fairytale, with their illustrative sinuous roots spreading out like ribbons from the base of their trunk. They grow in more environments than just the Hill Country and are planted for shade purposes especially. Each fall, their delicate fern-like leaves turn from green to yellow to bronze, giving us a taste of that autumn color seen in other parts of the country.  Since they grow alongside rivers, there’s no wonder they thrive where there is lots of water – even in bogs. They are perfect for a low-lying ditch or an area of your yard where water collects after a hard rain.

Gardening in Texas: Part 2 - Planting Texas Trees

Live Oak – These are found across our great state, and the oldest species have arms stretching out from their fat trunks, dipping down to greet the ground. Live oaks are evergreen, so they can handle very high heat, and once established, need very little water. In the fall, look for their tiny acorns on the ground for your fall arrangements!

Sweetbay Magnolia – Also known as Laurel Magnolia, they can grow up to 80 feet tall and 60 feet wide. Their bloom is the most gorgeously scented creamy white flower, seen on branches from spring to summer to fall. Don’t expect to keep their flowers in a vase for long, as they turn brown very quickly, so it’s best to enjoy the Magnolia flower while blooming on the tree. It does very well in soggy wet areas, and can tolerate growing in partial shade.

For the Beauty of It

Grown mostly for their beauty, ornamental trees also help with flowering, providing nectar for birds and bees. For those who enjoy growing a flower garden, an ornamental tree won’t dominate the landscape like a live oak will for example, and provide a nice vertical element to break up a space.

There are many trees sold in Texas that are considered ornamental, and while beautiful in their own right, they don’t always grow with ease like a native ornamental will. There are hundreds of plant species considered ornamentals growing  in Texas, but our selection of ornamentals are proper trees, meaning they’ll grow taller than 5 feet.

Gardening in Texas: Part 2 - Planting Texas Trees

Texas Redbud – Named for the clusters of magenta pink and red flowers appearing on their naked branches in the spring time, just before their leaves appear, the leaves of the redbud look like a lily pad. They grow between 10-20 feet in height, and are drought tolerant, growing nicely in dappled shade.

Vitex – Also known as the Chaste Tree or the Texas Lilac, the purple flowers of this tree are adored by native bees and butterflies. If having a butterfly garden is your thing, then consider planting one in the corner of your garden to act as a guard watching over the rest of your flowers. It’s not fussy about its soil type, and it thrives in the full sun of a hot and dry environment. If you live where it rains a lot, don’t over-water it.  It is extremely hardy, which is why once you identify one, you’ll notice them showing up everywhere across our state.

Texas Mountain Laurel – Also known as a Mescal Bean, the Texas Mountain Laurel typically grows no larger than 15 feet in height. Its purplish colored flowers droop like a bunch of grapes and are even scented like grape candy. Its dark waxy leaves are evergreen, and since it’s native to Central and Southwest Texas, it prefers to grow in rocky, limestone soil.

Roughleaf Dogwood – The bright green leaves of a Roughleaf Dogwood turn to a purplish-red in the fall. It has clusters of creamy white blooms that butterflies love in the spring, along with white fruit clusters in the fall that birds adore. Tolerant to many growing conditions and dry to moist soils, the dogwood is a hardy ornamental tree that requires little tending.

What are your favorite native Texas trees? Share with us below!

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