Overlooked Trees for Landscape Planting

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Published on: Jan. 2, 2001

Last revision: Nov. 10, 2010

plant baldcypress in that area, be sure that the tree was grown in a local nursery from local stock.

Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) is a close relative of the familiar coastal redwood, except it doesn't grow as big. The tree is similar to baldcypress in height and spread and grows in a neat, conical shape that rarely requires pruning. It also loses its needles in the fall. The dawn redwood has a tiny cone that isn't nearly as messy as those of the baldcypress.

Its growth rate is similar to baldcypress, but dawn redwood may continue to grow late into summer and not "harden off" before the first frost. This will cause some die-back of young shoots or the loss of a bud, but it shouldn't damage the tree as a whole.

Overall, dawn redwood is not quite as cold-tolerant as baldcypress, so it is more suitable for the southern two-thirds of the state. You can grow it farther north, but choose a protected site that's exposed to the south or west.

The only pine native to Missouri is shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata). It's an important forest tree in southern Missouri, but it is difficult to use for landscaping because it doesn't transplant well. However, Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis) shows some promise for landscape use, especially as a substitute for Austrian, Scotch or eastern white pines-all of which have difficulties when used as landscape trees.

Like most evergreens, limber pine likes well-drained soil that is kept moist. However, the roots like standing water or "wet feet." Limber pine is adaptable and probably tolerates clay soils better than other pines, except shortleaf.

I have not personally seen a mature limber pine in Missouri, but they reportedly grow up to 50 feet tall with a spread of up to 35 feet.

"Vanderwolf's Pyramid," or "Vanderwulf's," is a cultivated variety commonly found at nurseries. The Vanderwulf's cultivar grows vigorously, about 25 inches per year (17 feet over eight years) and has blue-green foliage. Limber pine can withstand Missouri's cold winters and is a good selection for landscaping.

Small Ornamental Trees

Everyone enjoys the beautiful flowers of the flowering crabapple or Bradford pear, but because they are so common, their exposure to insects and disease may be much higher. It's much healthier to have a diversity of trees.

Ornamental trees are relatively short-lived. Many species have maximum lifespans of 15 to 25 years.


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