Monday, April 21, 2008

Landscape and Nursery - Drought Tolerant Small Trees

We continue to have a dry spring this year and coming off the drought of 2007 our subsoil moisture is very low. Landscapers and nurserymen should consider plants that are more drought tolerant. The following are some drought tolerant small trees for Delaware.

Many small trees are understory trees that provide an excellent transition planting between natural and more refined areas of a property. Small trees used as specimen trees should have many seasons of beauty, such as flower display, foliage effects, fall color, fruit and bark or habit interest.

Acer ginnala, Amur Maple, 15 to 18 feet; full sun to light shade. Assets: Small tree of rounded outline with lustrous, dark green leaves. ID: Leaves are doubly-serrate and 3-lobed with the middle lobe much longer than the lateral lobes. Use: Small specimen, patio, screen, grouping and massing tree.

Crataegus phaenopyrum, Washington Hawthorn, 25 to 30 feet. Assets: A broadly oval tree with reddish-purple new foliage that changes to lustrous dark green, orange to scarlet fall foliage, white flower clusters and glossy red fruit. ID: Small, sharply serrate, 3 to 5-lobed leaves. Use: Excellent single specimen tree or screen.

Koelreuteria paniculata, Goldenraintree, 30 to 40 feet; full sun. Assets: Beautiful dense tree of regular rounded outline with large yellow flower cluster borne in late June to early July. Fruit are large, papery lantern-like capsules. ID: Pinnate or bipinnately compound leaves with coarsely serrate leaflets. Use: Excellent small lawn tree, specimen or patio tree.

Syringa reticulata, Japanese Tree Lilac, 20 to 30 feet; full sun and requires well-limed soil. Assets: White, fragrant flowers in large terminal clusters are extremely showy. Dark green leaves and cherry-like, reddish-brown bark with horizontal lenticels. Use: Excellent trouble-free lilac makes a good specimen or street tree.

Viburnum prunifolium, Blackhaw Viburnum, 12 to 15 feet; sun or shade. Assets: Round-headed small tree with creamy, flat-topped flowers and bluish-black fruit. ID: Dark green leaves with a stiffly branched growth habit. Use: Interesting as a small specimen tree or in groups.

Excerpted from "Plant Selection for Water Conservation" by Dr. Susan Barton, UD Extension Ornamental Horticulture Specialist.

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