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What Are The Best Trees You Can Grow In Tallahassee?
Due to North Florida’s warm and humid coastal climate, there are many different types of trees that can thrive there.
Because Tallahassee is in the USDA plant hardiness zone of 8b, the minimum extreme temperatures still have the potential to reach 15-20 degrees, but the average minimum temperature typically only reaches about 39 degrees F.
That said, you’ll want to keep a close eye on less hardy trees during those winter months, and take measures to keep some trees alive on the nights where it does drop below freezing.
If you find that your trees are struggling with extreme temperatures or showing signs of disease, reach out to our Tallahassee tree specialists right away so we can help your trees stay as healthy as possible.
However, if you’re looking to plant new trees on your land, these are a list of the trees that will do the best with Tallahassee’s climate.
Taxodium distichum or the bald cypress is a pyramidal conifer–a large tree that can reach giant heights of up to 120 feet tall. According to NC State University, the bald cypress is one of the longest living trees on earth, and its internal rings are often studied to retrieve climate data.
This tall and skinny beauty prefers soil that is acidic and moist, however, it is said to thrive in a wide range of soil types.
Another interesting fact about the bald cypress is that it’s a deciduous conifer, meaning it loses its leaves in the winter months (even though it looks like an evergreen tree).
We recommend the bald cypress because it’s a low-maintenance tree that’s easy to clean up after. Do be sure to look out for problems like twig blight and chlorosis when identifying illness on bald cypress trees, though.
Southern Live Oak
Quercus virginiana (southern live oak) is a majestic shade tree, and if you take a drive around Tallahassee you’ll find plenty of them.
One of the most unique attributes of the live oak is its ability to sit horizontally. For example, many people sit on the strong, horizontally growing branches of the live oak without even taking the time to appreciate its beauty.
With the ability to grow to heights of up to 80 feet tall, the live oak reaches out even wider at widths of 60-100 feet when it has the space to grow, and some live oaks live to be 200-300 years old. Clemson University cites that younger oaks grow 2-3 feet yearly.
Live oaks produce acorns that have a generic culinary use once toxic tannins have been removed (soaking them in cold water for up to a week usually does the trick). The acorns from a live oak can be eaten whole, extracted for oil, or ground up into flour.
Look for leaf blister and oak wilt when diagnosing illness on southern live oaks.
Persimmon is a fruit-bearing tree native to North America, and there are also varieties that are native to both Japan and China. You might find persimmon fruit at your local farmer’s market in Tallahassee.
These trees are known to grow at a moderate rate of about 24 inches yearly when grown in the right conditions. These trees are surprisingly plant-hardy, preferring zones 4 through 9 on the USDA scale, so that means you don’t have to worry about cold temperatures when planting in Tallahassee (8b).
We recommend growing a native variety of persimmon because its indigenous nature helps the local wildlife thrive.
This beautiful and petite deciduous tree reaches heights of only about 20 feet and its native territory ranges from New Jersey down to Florida. One pleasant attribute of the eastern redbud that growers enjoy is the pink and purple flowers that bloom off it in the springtime.
Redbuds also produce a legume fruit that typically ripens in October. The branches on the eastern redbud are skinny and delicate, so this is a tree that needs to be nurtured and ‘babied’ for best results. There are many different common cultivars of the eastern redbud, including:
- Pink bud
- Lavender twist
- Rubye Atkinson
- Tennessee Pink
- Silver Cloud
- Royal White
- Appalachian Red
The redbud prefers plant hardiness zones from 4 to 9, and its ability to withstand temperatures of down to -20 F makes it an excellent choice for Tallahassee’s slightly chilled winters.
The Magnolia Grandiflora or southern magnolia is a mystical deciduous tree native to the Americans that reach heights of up to 80 feet. Surviving in plant hardiness zones from 6 through 10, the southern magnolia prefers acidic and moist soil.
The magnolia was named after the French botanist Pierre Magnol who loved it so much that he transplanted it to Europe over 300 years ago.
This tree is mostly evergreen, meaning that it keeps the majority of its leaves during the winter months, and the greatest wonder of the southern magnolia is perhaps its rich, white flowers that come in late spring. Visit your local Tallahassee nurseries/garden center for a selection of Southern Magnolia the next time you plant shade trees on your property.
This tree is home to wildlife like birds, rabbits, and squirrels. Another fun fact about the magnolia is that Andrew Jackson transplanted one onto the White House grounds in memory of his wife. Another large tree option for this area is the Flowering Dogwood.
Just like its neighbor Georgia, Florida is a suitable place to grow peach trees. Although peaches are native to China, there are cultivars especially designed for success in the southeast. Having said that, the University of Georgia advises growers to purchase their trees from reputable nurseries to ensure success when growing peach trees in Tallahassee.
Aside from the delicious fruit that it bears, peach trees bloom in the spring with extremely beautiful pink flowers. Most importantly noted, peach trees require ample amounts of sunlight (8-10 hours/day) and soil that drains excellently.
The University of Georgia also advises growers to test the pH levels in the soil well before planting peach trees as it may be impossible to adjust after the fact. These trees require a very specific pH level from 6 to 6.5 for optimum growth.
If you take the time and care to grow good peach trees in Tallahassee, the delicious fruit will reward you when the fruiting season arrives, but we don’t advise growing these unless you have the time and energy to do it the right way.
Florida maple or Acer Floridanum is a no-brainer if you’re looking to grow an effective shade tree on your Tallahassee property. But before you plant your Florida maple starters, we advise you to do your research on the recommended growing environment.
Again, maple trees are a great choice because of their resistance to illness and relatively resilient plant hardiness (zones 5-9). Florida maples can be susceptible to wilt, however, so learning how to identify this fungal disease is essential for successfully growing maple trees in large quantities.
One of the most enjoyable and lively parts about the Florida Maple is the two-winged samara fruits that often fall off during the mid-summer (although it may be an annoying clean-up). Children love to throw the samaras into the air and let them float down like a helicopter.
When planting your Florida maples, make sure you space them about 25 feet apart for sufficient growth. These maple trees prefer a more acidic, well-drained soil but are known to survive suitably in clay ground.
Although figs are native to the Mediterranean, they are commonly grown in Florida because the climate offers the correct growing conditions, making them relatively easy to grow. Some fig trees are known to grow up to heights of 50 feet, but the University of Florida gardening division cites that they rarely grow this high in the southwest.
The UF also highly recommends growing the common fig variety because of the fact that they bear fruit without any fertilization or cross-pollination. There are three other fig varieties–San Pedro, Smyrna, and Caprifigs–that require a specific wasp for cross-pollination which isn’t found in Florida.
When selecting fig tree cultivars for Florida, the University recommends these three:
- Brown Turkey
Remember, figs don’t ship well, so having your own fig tree or buying figs from your local farmer’s market is the way to go.
If you want to grow tangerine trees in Tallahassee, our best advice is to select the most cold-hardy variety to avoid a devastating freeze that could potentially ruin all of your hard work.
Since tangerines thrive in plant hardiness ranges from 8b to 11, we won’t go too in-depth on the subject, but the Sugar Bell tangerine tree is the way to go.
You may want to plant a sabal palmetto, or the cabbage palm, on your property in Tallahassee to embellish its appearance.
While it’s mostly found on coastal dunes, this sandy thriver can survive in poorly drained soils and can withstand temperatures of down to -4 F. That being said, it’s best to plant a cabbage palm in more protected areas as its plant hardiness preference ranges from zones 8-11.
The cabbage palm thrives in a wide range of soil pH levels but prefers neutral to alkaline, and we recommend doing as much research as possible specific to your planting site (hiring a tree expert might help) to determine whether or not the cabbage palm is suitable for your area in Tallahassee.
The University of Florida calls pecans a southern tradition, so these delicious nut trees are an excellent choice for growing in Tallahassee–plant hardy from zones 5-9, you shouldn’t have any problem keeping your pecan trees thriving.
Native to the Mississippi floodplain, pecan trees range from Texas to Illinois, and their amazingly delicious nuts have been utilized as a food source for the Native American tribes for thousands of years.
UF cites that pecans are of major economic value in Florida, and the southern state produces an estimated ten million pounds of pecans annually producing revenue of anywhere from 200-500 million dollars.
Pecan trees are wonderful for many reasons, one being that they can potentially live for up to 300 years. Pecan trees should be planted during the colder months when dormant to allow proper root growth in the spring, and they prefer pH levels from 5.5 to 6.5. Take into consideration that it takes 6-12 years of growth for a decent yield of pecans.
Nectarine trees thrive in plant hardiness zones of 5-9 making them yet another excellent choice for growth in Leon County.
There are four types of Mulberries: red, white, black, or paper. We recommend growing the red mulberry because it’s native to the Americas.
These fast-growing deciduous trees grow up to heights ranging anywhere from 30-60 feet in height, and the edible reddish-purple berries produced by these trees are perfect for a pie, jam, or crisp.
What Are The Key Success Factors For Growing Trees In Tallahassee?
We want you to have success when growing your trees. Here are some key ingredients for proper tree care.
To successfully cultivate any of the trees listed above, we must first research the specific species/variety to gain an understanding of what each tree needs to survive. Consult professional tree growers in your area from Tree Triage to help you grow healthy trees.
All trees require sunlight to photosynthesize, and some trees require more direct sunlight than others. Take light requirements into consideration when planting new trees in hilly and shaded areas.
Good Soil Conditions
Always test the soil with a pH testing kit (you can buy one on Amazon or from your local nursery) before planting trees. Each tree listed in this guide has its own preferred pH level of acidity or alkalinity, and some are more sensitive to the soil than others. You may have to mix mulch into the soil before planting depending on the soil conditions (ask a tree expert for help).
Why Is It Important To Grow Native Trees In Tallahassee?
The importance of native plants and trees is vital to preserving biodiversity. In the past 100 years, urbanization has struck the entire planet with devastating effects.
Luckily, we can combat these changes by continuing to plant native plant varieties whenever possible. Here are a few reasons why it’s important to grow native in Tallahassee.
Invite native wildlife
Native trees are home to animals like birds, bugs/insects, squirrels/rodents, etc. that create a balance in nature. Visit your native nurseries before anywhere else.
Keeping traditions alive
Traditions like the pecan tree are of great value in the south. For example, not only do pecan trees live for hundreds of years, but they also produce millions of dollars in revenue from their delicious nuts.
Reduce removal costs
Both government and private organizations spend millions upon millions of dollars each year to remove invasive species from unwanted areas. For this reason, it’s vital to plant native trees in Tallahassee whenever possible.
How Can A Tree Growing Expert Help?
We highly recommend hiring a tree-growing expert to help. Hire a professional arborist fromTree Triage for diagnosing tree problems and soil testing assistance, and use our tree services for help taking care of mature trees (say they grow into power lines/over property lines)