What Is An Ornamental Tree?
An ornamental tree is one which is not native to the area where it will be planted. These are usually trees that have been grown from seed or cuttings and then allowed to grow wild, but with some grafting they may become useful plants in your garden. They are often used for decoration, shade, or other purposes.
The term “ornament” refers to any decorative object such as jewelry, furniture, paintings etc. A tree may be considered ornamental if it has special qualities that make it desirable to someone else than its original owner.
There are two types of ornamental trees: those that are native and those imported. Native species are generally indigenous to the region where they were found, while imported species come from elsewhere. There is no standard definition of what constitutes a “native” tree; many different kinds of trees have been brought into North America over time. Some of these might be considered native, others not so much.
Most ornamental trees are American natives (or at least their seeds originated here).
The different types of ornamental trees are endless, but they usually come in four general categories:
Deciduous Trees – Deciduous trees shed their leaves in the fall and grow new leaves in the spring. They are called deciduous because they “decide” to shed their leaves. Most deciduous trees have pretty fall colors.
Evergreen Trees – These trees keep their leaves all year long. Most of them are evergreens mainly because it’s too darn cold to lose their leaves.
Shrubs – Shrubs are woody plants which have many stems growing close together. Many times, the stems grow higher than the typical plant height and can be climbed like a tree.
Bulbs – These plants sprout from bulbs. A bulb is basically an underground stem which has already produced leafs and flowers.
There are some other types of ornamental trees which fall into other categories. One example is the genus liquidambar, which includes a group of trees known as sweetgums. These are deciduous trees with beautiful fall colors.
It can be difficult to tell what an ornamental tree is just by looking at it. You should always take care when handling them, since some may have toxic parts or liquids. Ornamental trees can be found in most nurseries, but you’ll have an even better selection at a specialty nursery or online.
Ornamental Trees are a good choice if you have a lot of people coming over to your home for a cookout. They give your yard an elegant look and are much easier on the eyes than a pile of shrubs.
Ornamental trees are typically on the expensive side, but they do have long lifespans. The average ornamental tree lives about forty years, which is quite a bonus considering how much time and effort you put into planting it in the first place!
They can be used for a natural privacy screen or just to create an all around pleasing atmosphere.
There are many different types of ornamental trees. Just to name a few, there are:
Catalpa Trees – These trees have trunks which are covered with fuzzy hairs. They also have foliage which is green on the top and yellow on the bottom.
Cherry Trees – Very popular ornamental trees, they produce cherries which can be eaten.
Elm Trees – Also known as a water oaks, these trees are very susceptible to disease, which makes them very uncommon nowadays.
Ginko Trees – Ginkgo trees are unique in that they are the only species in their family. They do not have any living relatives.
Hawthorn Trees – The flowers on these trees are large and white. These trees do not grow very tall, so they tend to be used more as hedges instead of individual specimens.
Magnolia Trees – These evergreen trees have large flowers which bloom in the spring and have a very sweet smell.
Mimosa Trees – These small trees have a lot of thorns and pollen which give off a slight odor.
Palm Trees – Tall, thin and straight, these trees are most common on tropical islands. They are also one of the most recognizable trees.
Redbud Trees – These short, shrubby trees have red buds which bloom in the springtime. The rest of the time, they have a grayish-green color.
Sycamore Trees – These trees have very large trunks and a lot of horizontal branches which are good for climbing.
Willow Trees – These trees are known for their flexibility. The limbs almost always come down to the ground. They can even grow around and through boulders.
Before you go out and buy all the ornamental trees you can find, you should really consider where you’re going to put them. Some trees need a lot of sun, while others need partial sun and still others need partial shade. You also want to make sure you have the right amount of space for the type of tree you get.
If you don’t have anywhere to plant an ornamental tree, don’t worry! You can still buy a potted one. Just make sure you have a really big pot for it!
Even if you don’t have a green thumb and kill every plant you touch, ornamental trees are relatively easy to take care of. Just make sure the soil is well drained and water it when needed. Beyond that, all you need to do is make sure it gets enough sunlight.
If you really want your tree to thrive, you can get a special fertilizer for it. Don’t overdo it though, because too much fertilizer can burn the roots. Speaking of burning, remember not to light your tree on fire. That would not be good!
Ornamental trees can add a lot to your home or garden and are relatively easy to care for. With so many types to choose from, you’ll definitely be able to find one (or five) that match your taste!
Tips & Warnings
Ornamental Trees are easy to care for and can be planted just about anywhere.
If you’re trying to add some beauty to an otherwise barren yard, ornamental trees are a great choice. There are so many types of ornamental trees to choose from, you should have no problem finding the right ones for you.
Ornamental trees can also provide shade on a hot day or shelter during a rainstorm. They’re great as backdrops in photographs and just plain look nice.
If you have a small yard or courtyard on your property, ornamental trees can help break up the monotony of the open space.
If you’re going to buy ornamental trees, check your yard for a good spot to plant them first. Make sure the area gets plenty of sun or at least enough light. You also want to make sure you leave enough room for the tree to grow. Most trees need to grow a few feet each year and some even more.
Make sure you pick a tree suited for your local climate. For example, you don’t want to plant a palm tree in the middle of winter if it’s going to die because it can’t handle the cold.
If you’re going to buy a potted tree, remember to get one that’s at least two gallons in size. This will give the tree enough room to grow. It’s also a good idea to pick up a tree stand so the tree is more accessible. This will make it easier for you to water the tree.
Remember, water the soil, not the tree itself! Over-watering can lead to root rot and the tree dying.
Always buy your trees from a reputable dealer. This will help ensure that you get a healthy tree. If you want, you can also buy tree guards to shield the tree from rodents who may try to eat the bark.
After buying and planting your tree, keep an eye on it. If you notice any bugs, disease or anything else that seems off, consult a professional to get advice on what to do.
After your tree has been in place for a few weeks, you can begin to reduce the amount of water it gets. Don’t let the soil get completely dry, but a little bit of drying is good for the roots.
When planting an ornamental tree, it’s a good idea to plant it next to a sidewalk, driveway or other area where it will be seen. This will make it more likely that people will enjoy the tree and you’ll get credit for it.
If you really want to go all out, you can get an irrigation system installed under the soil. This will make it so your tree gets water every day or so. This is definitely not needed if you’re only going to plant one or two trees.
Some trees, such as the hinoki cypress, can be very expensive. If you really want one of these, you might want to consider growing it from seed. It will take years before it’s big enough to plant in a visible area, but you’ll get credit for growing it and it will be much cheaper to buy the seeds.
Include one or more ornamental trees around your home. It’s a good idea to keep lawn equipment, such as a lawnmower and garden tools, in a shed or garage.
If you have the space for it, consider planting small ornamental trees throughout your yard. This will give it a nice, full look even if you don’t have much grass.
Trees also help to provide privacy between your home and your neighbors.
Sources & references used in this article:
Plant diversity and distribution in urban domestic gardens and apartments in Bangalore, India by M Jaganmohan, LS Vailshery, D Gopal, H Nagendra – Urban Ecosystems, 2012 – Springer
… and Cultivation of Hardy Trees, Decorative Accompaniments to the House and Grounds, the Formation of Pieces of Artificial Water, Flower Gardens, Etc. With … by AJ Downing – 1849 – books.google.com
Ornamental trees: an illustrated guide to their selection and care by F Howard – 1955 – books.google.com
Wyman’s gardening encyclopedia by D Wyman – 1986 – books.google.com
Far from the garden path: an identikit picture of woody ornamental plants invading south-eastern Australian bushland by MJ Mulvaney – 1991 – openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au