Ornamental trees for landscaping

What Is An Ornamental Tree: Types Of Ornamental Trees For Gardens

With beauty that endures through all seasons, ornamental trees have a lot to offer in the home landscape. Whether you are looking for flowers, fall color or fruit to keep the garden interesting over the winter months, you have lots of trees to choose from. Read on for help in selecting ornamental trees for the landscape.

What is an Ornamental Tree?

Ornamental trees are grown for their aesthetic value and the sheer enjoyment of having them in the garden. They may have outstanding flowers and fragrance, an interesting shape, colorful or unusual bark, excellent fall color, or a combination of these and other features.

Most gardens have room for at least one small ornamental tree, and some can accommodate two or three. They add framework and structure to the garden, and provide at least a little shade. They also make great background plants for shrub and flower borders.

There are many types of ornamental trees to choose from. Here are just a few that you might want to consider:

  • Flowering pears bloom in early spring with fragrant, white blossoms. Two of the most popular are Callery, which grows 30 feet tall, and Bradford, which reaches heights of up to 40 feet.
  • Crabapple is the most popular type of ornamental tree in many parts of the country, and also one of the most labor-intensive to grow. The trees need a good spraying program to prevent pests and disease, and they also need a good bit of pruning. There are over 200 varieties to choose from. Select one that is resistant to apple scab.
  • Eastern redbud has purplish pink flower clusters in spring, yellow fall foliage, and dark brown pods in fall and winter.
  • Weeping cherry is a graceful tree with early spring flowers. Songbirds love to visit this tree.
  • Flowering dogwood has lovely white or pink flower bracts that appear before the tree begins to leaf out. Many varieties have good fall color and glossy red fruit. It needs watering during dry spells.
  • Flowering plum has attractive flowers but the varieties that have reddish-purple foliage are the most popular.

How to Use Ornamental Trees

Ornamental trees make great specimen or stand-alone plants. This is especially true if they have features that make them interesting when there isn’t much else going on in the garden. You can also plant them in small clumps so that they make a garden all their own.

Small ornamental trees and those with loose canopies that allow lots of sunshine through make good garden trees. The more sunshine they let through, the more options you’ll have in the plants that you grow under them. A pattern of shifting light and shade throughout the day allows you to grow sun-loving shrubs and perennials under their canopy.

Here are some things to consider in the selection of ornamental trees:

  • Size – Do you have room for the tree? Will it be out of scale in your landscape?
  • Bloom season and duration – If you are selecting a tree for its flowers, you want them to last as long as possible.
  • Location requirements – Make sure your soil is right for the tree and you can give it the right amount of sun or shade.
  • Surface roots – Roots that rise above the soil can lift sidewalks and make lawn maintenance difficult.
  • Litter – Some trees seem to always have something falling from their branches. This is especially true of fruit trees.

Ornamental Tree Care

Ornamental tree care depends on the type of tree. There are many ornamental trees that require very little maintenance. Pruning raises the bar on tree maintenance, so look for those that grow well without extensive pruning.

Most ornamental trees look their best with a regular program of fertilization, usually in spring, and some require water during dry spells.

15 Common Ornamental Trees for Landscaping India

Here is the list of most common ornamental trees and garden plants in India with common name and picture. Popular ornamental garden plants and trees of India also include Ashoka tree, flame trees, Indian Cork tree, African Tulip Tree, Sago palm, Nerium oleander and very rare African Sausage tree.

Plumeria Alba

Plumeria Alba is the most common evergreen white flowering ornamental plant from dogbane family, also includes Plumeria rubra or frangipani,Plumeria pudica and Pink Plumeria.

The white with a yellow in center flowers of Plumeria blooms with lovely spiral shaped appearance and known as Champa in India, used in ritual offerings to the deities or to make necklaces.

Pride of India

Lagerstroemia speciosa is a medium sized tree and the flowers blooms only once in a year during the peak of summer, known as pride of India.

The ornamental plant grown in India and South East Asia, where its leaves are used as a herb for tea preparation and also in traditional medicine.

Golden Rain Tree

The golden shower flowering tree or Amalatas is native to the Indian subcontinent and is the state flower of Kerala. Golden rain tree is the most popular ornamental plant in India blooms in late spring and also used as herbal in Ayurvedic medicine.

Flamboyant Flame Tree

The flamboyant or Gulmohar is one of the several flame trees found in India where grown as an ornamental tree. Gulmohar ornament tree is the most common flowering tree of India and also has several medicinal uses.

Fishtail Palm

Caryota urens or Fishtail palm tree is a flowering palm from the Indian Subcontinent where they grow in fields, gardens and roadside for landscaping.

Whistling Pine

Casuarina equisetifolia or Australian pine tree is the most common seashore tree in India, planted for windbreak and known for cone like fruits.

False Ashoka Tree

Polyalthia longifolia is a evergreen tree native to India, planted to reduce noise pollution and known to grow over 30 ft in height. The False ashoka tree or Indian mast trees are used for ornamental in gardens throughout India.

Christmas Tree

Christmas tree is one of the most common name of triangle pine tree although it is not a true pine. Because of the distinctive appearance of this tree, it is grown as houseplants, outdoors and gardens as ornamental trees.

Giants Thuja

Giants Thuja green evergreen tree or Morpankhi is one of the five species of cedars that are native to eastern Asia. The conifers tree widely cultivated as an ornamental plant and particularly used in the horticultural trade.

Devil Tree

The devil tree or Alstonia scholaris also known as saptparni or shaitan tree in India, is the state tree of West Bengal and one of the most common gardens and landscapes tree in India. Alstonia scholaris flowers are beautiful and very fragrant that blooms once in year during the the month of October.

Red Bottle Brush

Red Bottle Brush is a medium sized woody plant which was endemic to Australia but now cultivated in many other regions of the world. The bottlebrushes flowering trees are used in ornamental landscaping in India and elsewhere in the world.

Weeping Fig

The Ficus benjamina plant or weeping fig tree are the most common flowering plant in India and very popular houseplant as well as among the most popular plants for indoor bonsai.

Royal Palm

The Royal palm tree was naturally endemic to coastal but now cultivated in other regions of the world and one of the most popular out plant and garden plant for landscaping India.

Bamboo Plant

Bamboo plants are exotic and extremely durable plants seen in many gardens of landscaping or gardening. Bamboos are one of the fastest growing plants in the world and giant timber bamboos are largest members of the grass family.

Indian Tulip Tree/African Tulip Tree

Thespesia populnea commonly found in South India, otherwise known as Portia Tree. Indian tulip tree and African tulip tree are two popular ornamental garden tree or street tree in India.

The white sky flower, Duranta erecta is one of the most popular and cultivated as an ornamental plant for gardens and also marketed as a hedge plant.

Dispelling Common Fertilizer Misconceptions

Not all trees have to be soaring specimens in a landscape in order to be effective. A number of ornamental trees are ideal for many spaces, especially in shrinking backyards.

Ornamental trees are grown to provide more beauty to a site with its flowers, bark, shape, fall color or a combination of these beautiful features.

The landscape design possibilities for ornamental trees are great as these plants can provide height, structure and interest to a property. Below are just some of the design options for ornamental trees and some suggested species to consider.

Specimen tree

Since ornamental trees are meant to be decorative trees, it makes sense they would be the ideal choice for specimen trees. These types of trees function as a focal point in the landscape and are meant to cause the viewer to stop and take notice of them.

Eastern redbud stands out easily with its spring flowers.

If your customer is looking to add some drama to their garden, it’s best to pick a tree that can do it year-round. Look for those that have early spring blooms, vibrant fall foliage and some way to attract wildlife either with seeds or berries.

Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) has vivid pink blossoms in the spring, yellow foliage in the fall and brown pods in the winter. It does best in full sun to partial shade and can grow 20 to 30 feet tall. It thrives in USDA zones 4-9.

Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) is another good option that offers beautiful flowers throughout spring and summer in a number of colors depending on the cultivar, bright fall foliage and exfoliating barks that stands out in the winter. Varieties can be as short as three feet or as tall 40 feet at maturity. It does well in USDA zones 6-9.

Ornamental flowering trees like apple serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora) and Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) both offer showy white flowers and have good fall color. Serviceberry can reach heights of 20 feet and grows in zones 4-9.

Kousa dogwood grows between 15 and 20 feet tall and grows in the USDA zones 5-8. Kousa dogwood has better disease resistance and cold hardiness compared to flowering dogwood.

Privacy screen

If your customer is looking to create a more secluding setting, living privacy fences are somewhere that ornamental trees can pitch in. Evergreen ornamental trees are best for privacy screens because they are able to provide coverage year-round, unlike their deciduous counterparts.

These are a smaller Thuja species than Green Giant Arborvitae, but they can still create a definite barrier.
Photo: GreenHeart Garden Design

One solid choice for screening is blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium), which can grow 12 to 15 feet tall.

“They’re really nice because they tend to be more upright than wide,” says Jennifer Brennan, manager of the education center for Chalet Landscaping, Nursery, & Garden Center in Wilmette, Illinois. “It has great fruit that birds love and great fall color. Its leaves are a shining red in the fall.”

North Pole arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Art Boe’) is an evergreen that has a columnar shape that works well in tight spaces. It grows 15 feet tall and has USDA zones 3-7. Arnold Sentinel pine (Pinus nigra ‘Arnold Sentinel’) is another tight columnar evergreen that grows 25 feet tall and thrives in USDA zones 4-8.

Don’t forget to mix up your plant material when creating your privacy screen so your customer’s wall of green isn’t taken out in one fell swoop if a disease or pest attacks one species.

Small spaces

Because ornamental trees tend to be on the smaller side, they are ideal options when working in tight spaces. Not all ornamentals are small trees though, but you can look for dwarf ornamentals if your client is set on having a specific species in a space that is too small for the traditional version of the tree.

Japanese maples have colorful foliage all year.
Photo: Jill Odom/Total Landscape Care

When picking a tree for a smaller space consider the mature size, shape and rate of growth.

Small ornamental tree species that work well in these confined quarters include Japanese maple, vine maple and crabapple.

Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) is probably one of the most well-known options for an ornamental tree and customers can choose from a number of cultivar sizes to fit their space best. This tree is resilient and has leaf colors ranging from green-gold to fiery red.

Vine maple (Acer circinatum) and crabapple trees (Malus spp.) attract wildlife with vine maple’s seeds and buds feed squirrels and birds. Birds will eat the fruit of some species of crabapple.

Vine maple tends to grow 12 to 14 feet and crabapple tree sizes vary based on the cultivar.

Small Garden Trees

Choosing Ideal Trees For Small Gardens

With the average garden size in the UK being 14 metres squared, many people consider their gardens small. Trees make use of vertical space that is often underutilised in a small garden. An estimated height and spread in 20 years is given for each variety of tree, making it easy to determine if it is a suitable size. Some trees take well to heavy pruning to further limit their size.

If you only have space for one tree, consider a tree that provides interest in multiple seasons. Small evergreen trees hold their leaves all year, but some bring additional interest with flowers and berries. Compact weeping trees are ideal for adding drama even when the leaves have fallen, whilst dwarf Birch trees have delicate foliage followed by wonderful bark that looks stunning in winter.

There’s so many problems that trees can solve in small gardens. Small trees with airy foliage such as Japanese Maples can add a little privacy in overlooked gardens whilst still letting light in. Compact, columnar Conifers can provide denser screening yet take up little space. Upright or flowering trees bring the focal point up and away from the small footprint of the garden.

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