It looks like spring is finally here, and many homeowners are heading back out to their gardens and lawns to get them ready for summer. While spring is a great time to renew mulch and fertilize your trees, many people are also looking to freshen up their outdoor areas by planting new decorative shrubs and trees.
Choosing the right decorative or ornamental tree for your yard can seem overwhelming; there are many different types available in our area. Some species, however, are more suited to our climate and soil, and taking a little knowledge with you on your trip to the nursery can go a long way toward planting a tree that will thrive.
With that in mind, Texas Tree Surgeons has put together a list of our Top Ten Decorative Trees for North Texas, curated by our owner and ISA Board Certified Master Arborist Amy Langbein Heath. Today, we’ll discuss five of them, and then follow up with five more next week!
Let’s start with a Southern classic, the crape myrtle. Different types of crape myrtles come with various flower colors, from hot pink to lavender. Crape myrtles also have a variety of trunk colors and can range in height. Some crape myrtles are actual trees and other varieties are considered a shrub. They are a popular North Texas tree because they enjoy full sun and require moderate water and little maintenance. This tree is fast growing and due to the gorgeous blooms it produces in the summer is a great tree to plant multiples for a border. For more information on crape myrtles, see our recent post.
Purple Leaf Plum
Nothing says spring in North Texas like purple leaf plum trees in bloom. As you drive around North Texas, you can spot and identify their beautiful flowers in pink or white. Purple leaf plum makes for a beautiful ornamental tree. It has a single trunk and purple or reddish leaves all year round, so it looks great in landscaping when it’s not in bloom, too. The tree requires full or partial shade and needs an area of about 20 x 20 feet to take root and grow properly. Like the crape myrtle, it requires moderate water. It is also a great bee attractor and grows one to two feet a year.
Texas Mountain Laurel
Texas mountain laurel is another showstopper, especially when in bloom. Not much seems to bother this drought-tolerant beauty. A hard freeze might eliminate blooms one year but it won’t kill it. Texas mountain laurel requires good drainage and the trees are happy growing among rocks and limestone in other parts of Texas. This small tree looks more like a large shrub. It prefers full or partial sun and needs approximately 20 feet to grow. It is slow growing. It is green all year and in March, when it is in full bloom with gorgeous purple blossoms, it puts out a delicious scent reminiscent of grape bubblegum. It is a kid favorite, but beware the silvery pods it puts out in late summer. The pods hold a red bean that can be poisonous in large amounts.
Another purple showstopper is the Texas vitex, also known as a Texas lilac. Vitex generally appears more like a shrub or small tree with a large top. It is drought-tolerant which makes it perfect for xeriscaping, and is happy in direct sun. When in bloom, May through September, vitex showcases spiky blooms of lavender flowers. It also produces sporadically throughout the fall. Vitex needs 15 x 10 feet to grow properly. It is deciduous and loses its leaves in the winter. Vitex is also known for its ability to attract bees and butterflies.
A relative of mountain laurel, Eve’s necklace is another decorative tree favorite. Eve’s necklace is a small tree with lustrous green leaves. Come springtime you can expect a delicate canopy and pink flowers that hang in beautiful clusters. Like its cousin the mountain laurel, it produces pods in late summer into fall that resemble a string of beads, giving it its name eve’s necklace. The seeds are reportedly poisonous. Eve’s necklace can grow in direct sun or in light shade. It is easy to grow and takes low water.