15 Best Trees to Plant in Oklahoma

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Quick Answer: Best Trees to Plant in Oklahoma

The best trees to plant in Oklahoma are river birch, American elm, bald cypress, chinkapin oak, fringe tree, desert willow, American hornbeam, Indian cherry, Kentucky coffee tree, Prairifire crabapple, Southern magnolia, winterberry wuonymus, Oklahoma redbud, maidenhair, and Japanese zelkova. These trees are preferably planted in fall and spring.

This is a comprehensive guide to the list of best trees to grow in Oklahoma home yards.

The trees listed below prepared after extensive research will help home growers in making informed decisions.

Read further to know more!

Best Trees to Plant in Oklahoma

Oklahoma has a varied climate ranging from humid subtropical in the east to semi-arid in the west. It is home to a plethora of trees, ranging from flowering to tall ornamental trees.

Growing native trees in landscape settings helps in increasing beauty, encouraging beneficial pollinators, and providing shade for the yard.

Continue reading for the list of the best trees to plant in Oklahoma:

1. River Birch

Low-maintenance Tree Of Oklahoma

River birch (Betula nigra) is an attractive fast-growing tree of Oklahoma with an exfoliating trunk, pyramid shape, and vibrant foliage.

Why Grow River Birch?

River birch is an easy-to-grow and low-maintenance tree that can thrive in Oklahoma. It can be used as an accent and shade tree.

It is long-lived under ideal growing conditions and is fairly trouble-free.

Maintenance And Care

River birch grows in moist, well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade locations. It requires watering for two or three hours once a week.

It may benefit from occasional feeding and pruning annually in fall and winter. One of the troublesome pests is birch leafminer.

The complete growing guide of river birch is covered here:

2. American Elm

Adaptable Tree Of Oklahoma

American Elm (Ulmus Americana) are majestic trees that can be an asset to Oklahoma home gardens due to their natural beauty and shade.

Why Grow American Elm?

Many cultivars, including Valley fronge, New harmony, and Princeton are available for Oklahoma weather conditions. It can adapt to different soil conditions and pH.

It can tolerate air pollution and drought. It makes a good shade tree for your yard.

Maintenance And Care

American elm prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade.

Mulch the tree immediately after planting and fertilize each spring. One of the biggest challenges is dutch elm disease which causes wilting of leaves.

Check here to know more about growing American elm:

3. Bald Cypress

The bald cypress ( Taxodium distichum) is a large Oklahoma native with a pyramid shape that can be a spectacular addition to most landscape conditions.

Why Grow Bald Cypress?

The bald cypress makes an excellent landscape specimen tree in Oklahoma. It is tolerant of both dry and wet soils.

It makes an impressive shade tree due to the large canopy. It is a low-maintenance tree once established.

Maintenance And Care

Bal cypress thrives in well-drained to flood-tolerant soil and full sun. Avoid planting very close to powder lines.

It does not require additional fertilizer if the soil is rich. It can be susceptible to gypsy moths, spider mites, and cankers.

Click this link to know more about growing and harvesting bald cypress:

4. Chinkapin Oak

A native oak tree with attractive bark and glossy leaves that can be grown throughout Oklahoma is chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii).

Why Grow Chinkapin Oak?

Chinkapin oak is preferred by Oklahoma larger yards due to its ornamental value. Its dense canopy makes it ideal as a shade tree.

It can adapt to different soil conditions and is relatively trouble-free. It is tolerant to drought and windswept sites.

Maintenance And Care

Chinkapin oak flourishes in well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade.

It may need occasional mulching and pruning to remove broken or diseased branches. It may be subject to fungus oak wilt, anthracnose, and leaf blister.

You may watch this video to know more about propagating chinkapin:

5. Fringe Tree

The fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) is a native, deciduous small tree with fragrant, spring flowers that are suited to the climate of Oklahoma.

Why Grow Fringe Tree?

The fringe tree is a longer-lived tree that adds landscape beauty to Oklahoma homes. It may tolerate a wide range of soils and conditions.

It is rarely troubled by insects or diseases. Its fruits provide a food source for wildlife.

Maintenance And Care

The fringe tree prefers full sun to light shade and well-drained soil.

It may benefit from balanced fertilizer or an inch of compost annually. It rarely requires pruning and is prone to scales and borers.

Check out this link for additional information on growing fringe trees:

6. Desert Willow

Desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) is a perfect small, loose, gangly tree with colorful, funnel-shaped flowers that are well-suited for western Oklahoma.

Why Grow Desert Willow?

Desert willow is a rapidly growing tree that makes a great small specimen tree due to its fragrant blossoms and attractive foliage.

It can be grown on a patio due to its small compact size. It attracts hummingbirds and other birds to your yard.

Maintenance And Care

Desert willow prefers full sun and dry, well-drained soils.

It can be propagated from cuttings or seeds. It does not require supplemental fertilizer. It needs light pruning to remove dead growth. One of the troublesome pests is aphids.

The growing guide of desert willow is covered here:

7. American Hornbeam

American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) is a slow-growing native tree with an attractive globular form and colorful fall leaves.

Why Grow American Hornbeam?

American hornbeam can grow as an understory tree that does well in Oklahoma yards due to favorable climatic conditions.

It is relatively easy to care for once established. It is resistant to most diseases and pests.

Maintenance And Care

American hornbeam thrives in full sun to light shade and well-drained soil. It typically doesn’t need fertilizer.

 Prune lightly to remove dead or diseased branches. It may develop cankers or leaf spots under unfavorable conditions.

Here is a video for growing American hornbeam:

8. Indian Cherry

Indian cherry (Rhamnus caroliniana) is a small tree with a rounded to spreading canopy that is prized by Oklahoma gardeners for its colorful fruits.

Why Grow Indian Cherry?

Indian cherry trees are easy-to-grow trees that add beauty to your yard. It provides bounty yields of versatile fruits for the family.

Its fruits help in attracting birds and for a late summer accent. It is resistant to diseases and pests and is relatively drought-tolerant.

Maintenance And Care

Indian cherry prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. It can be propagated by seeds. It is troubled by crown rust of oats.

The complete growing guide of the cherry tree is covered here:

9. Kentucky Coffee Tree

Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus dioica) is a native tree of Oklahoma with a majestic appearance and is suitable for larger home yards.

Why Grow Kentucky Coffee Tree?

Kentucky coffee trees can tolerate a different range of growing conditions, including the dry and alkaline soils of Oklahoma.

It is not bothered by air pollution and makes a good shade tree. Also, it can handle drought and heat well.

Maintenance And Care

Kentucky coffee trees do best in full sun and sandy loam soil. It needs fertilizers that promote woody, strong growth.

Prune regularly when young to develop a stronger structure. Leaf litter can be a problem for these trees.

Check out this video for tips on growing a Kentucky coffee tree:

10. Prairifire Crabapple

Prairifire crabapple (Malus spp) is a popular flowering tree with a rounded crown that provides all-year-round interest with spring blossoms.

Why Grow Prairifire Crabapple?

Prairifire crabapple adds beauty to your Oklahoma yards with its rose-pink flowers and color-changing leaves. It has a small size that makes it ideal for planting under utility lines.

It shows resistance to several diseases and requires low-maintenance once established.

Maintenance And Care

Prairifire prefers well-drained soil and full sun. It is self-fertile and depends on bees for pollination.

Fertilize in early spring and prune in winter to remove damaged leaves. It is prone to rust, scab, fire blight, and powdery mildew.

Check out this video for tips on growing crabapple:

11. Southern Magnolia

Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) are popular evergreen trees of Oklahoma with fragrant, creamy white flowers.

Why Grow Southern Magnolia?

Many dwarf varieties are available for urban Oklahoma home spaces. It is attractive, relatively easy to grow, and not fussy about different soil types.

It may handle drought once established. It has relatively fewer pest and disease issues.

Maintenance And Care

Southern magnolia prefers deep, nutrient-rich, acidic, well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. It needs fertilization three times a year once the trees produce new growth.

 It requires pruning to encourage a compact form. The common diseases affecting them are canker and verticillium wilt.

Click this video for additional information on growing southern magnolia:

12. Winterberry Euonymus

Winterberry euonymus (Euonymus bungeanus) is a small semi-evergreen tree of Oklahoma with light green foliage, showy flowers, and fruits.

Why Grow Winterberry Euonymus?

Winterberry euonymus makes a great patio, border plantings, or specimen tree of Oklahoma due to its compact size.

It can adapt to different soil conditions. It can handle drought and is resistant to scales.

Maintenance And Care

Winterberry euonymus can grow well in full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. It can be propagated by cuttings, layering, or transplanting.

It seldom requires fertilization. The biggest challenge is the euonymus scales.

If you are interested in knowing more about winterberry euonymus, check this link:

13. Oklahoma Redbud

Oklahoma redbud (Cercis Canadensis) is a native tree making them perfect for Oklahoma’s small home spaces.

Why Grow Oklahoma Redbud?

Oklahoma redbud can tolerate a different range of soil conditions in Oklahoma. Their small size makes them ideal to grow under utility lines.

It is perfect for adding a splash of color to your yard with magenta-colored flowers. It is highly tolerant to drought.

Maintenance And Care

Oklahoma redbud prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.

It can be propagated by budding and requires a two to three-inch layer of mulch. The biggest challenge faced by the tree is the canker.

Here is a useful video on growing Oklahoma redbud:

14. Maidenhair

Maidenhair, also known as Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is a unique tree of Oklahoma with distinctive foliage and vibrant fall colors that make it ideal for urban environments.

Why Grow Maidenhair?

Many cultivars of Ginkgo are available for Oklahoma’s climatic conditions. It is unfussy about its growing conditions and can tolerate different soil types.

It doesn’t have serious pests or disease problems. It tolerates urban pollution and is resistant to diseases.

Maintenance And Care

Maidenhair thrives in moist, sandy, well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. It is popularly propagated from cuttings.

It may benefit from spring feeding and occasional pruning. It is susceptible to mealybugs, Japanese beetles, and tiger moths.

Check out this video to know more about Maidenhair:

15. Japanese Zelkova

Japanese zelkova (Zelkova serrata) is a deciduous tree of Oklahoma with a vase-shaped growth habit and graceful foliage.

Why Grow Japanese Zelkova?

Japanese zelkova can adapt to Oklahoma weather conditions and is resistant to Dutch elm disease. It may tolerate a different range of soil conditions and types.

It provides a shady spot due to its dense ovate leaves and adds ornamental value due to its dazzling fall color.

Maintenance And Care

Japanese zelkova does well in full sun to light shade and well-drained soil. It requires infrequent, deep saturation and seldom requires additional fertilization.

Prune annually to eliminate V-shapes. A few pest issues are aphids and scale.

Here is a video on growing zelkova trees:

What Is The Easiest Growing Tree In Oklahoma?

The easiest-growing tree in Oklahoma is the river birch

River birch is a fast-growing tree that can tolerate different soil conditions in Oklahoma. It requires low maintenance and needs little care once established.

Also, it can tolerate urban growing conditions, including air pollution. It can be used to create an accent in your yard.

The other trees which can thrive in the climatic conditions of Oklahoma are the American elm and bald cypress.

What Is The Best Time To Plant Trees In Oklahoma?

The best time to plant trees in Oklahoma is fall or spring.

The trees are under the least environmental stress during dormancy and can be planted during fall. Also, the soil temperatures are warm enough for the roots to establish themselves in the new surrounding soil.

The balled or burlapped trees are planted in winter to minimize stress. Also, many containerized trees can be planted at any time.


Can you plant Bradford pear in Oklahoma?

Bradford pear is commonly planted as an ornamental fruit tree in Oklahoma, But, it has become an invasive tree and harms other native plants. Also, their fruits are dispersed across the landscapes. So, it is preferable to plant other native trees.

What are the common trees to plant in Oklahoma?

The common trees to plant in Oklahoma are the bald cypress, flowering dogwood, eastern redcedar, American elm, bur oak, loblolly pine, and eastern redbud. These trees adapt to the climate of Oklahoma and help in preventing the spread of invasive trees.

What are the best flowering trees to grow in Oklahoma home yards?

The different flowering trees of Oklahoma are fireball-free man maple, European hornbeam, weeping mulberry, Chinese dogwood, Japanese zelkova, and cherry tea ninebark. These trees add a pop of color and help in beneficial pollinators and birds.

Quick Recap: Top Trees to Plant In Oklahoma

Here is a quick recap of the top trees that can adapt to Oklahoma’s climate and soil types:

TreesWhy Grow?
River birch1. Easy-to-grow and the low-maintenance tree of Oklahoma
2. Provides accent and shade for the yard
American elm1. Long-lived and tall deciduous tree of Oklahoma
2. Provides shade and is adaptable to different soil conditions
Bald cypress1. Excellent landscape specimen and shade tree of Oklahoma
2. Low-maintenance and tolerates wet conditions
Chinkapin oak1. Ornamental value and suitable for larger yards
2. Relatively trouble-free and drought-tolerant
Fringe tree1. Long-lived landscape specimen of Oklahoma
2. Relatively trouble-free and adaptable
Desert willow1. Attractive small-sized tree from Oklahoma
2. Relatively troubled by fewer pests or diseases
American hornbeam1. Low-maintenance understory tree of Oklahoma
2. Bothered by fewer pests and diseases
Indian cherry1. Easy to grow and care trees of Oklahoma
2. Drought-tolerant and relatively trouble-free
Kentucky coffee tree1. Easy care tree of Oklahoma that is adaptable to different soil conditions
2. Not bothered by air pollution
Prairifire crabapple1. Small easy to grow flowering tree in Oklahoma
2. Requires little maintenance once established
Southern magnolia1. Attractive and easy-to-grow tree of Oklahoma
2. Relatively troublefree and drought-tolerant
Winterberry euonymus1. Small semi-evergreen tree suitable as a specimen tree
2. Tolerates different soil types and conditions
Oklahoma redbud1. The small size makes it ideal for the smaller yard
2. Adds a pop of color with spring blossoms
Maidenhair1. Resistant to diseases and urban pollution
2. Unfussy about growing conditions
Japanese zelkova1. Provides shade and adds ornamental value
2. Tolerates different soil conditions

Bottom line

Hopefully, this guide has given you many options to add beauty and shade to your Oklahoma home yards.

I am interested to hear your suggestions for suitable growing options for Oklahoma climates.

If you find the guide helpful, please share it with your friends and family!



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