Trees for zone 3

The different types of forests: everything you need to know


Forests cover 1/3 of the earth’s surface and contain an estimated 3 trillion trees. Forests exist in dry, wet, bitterly cold, and swelteringly hot climates. These different forests all have special characteristics that allow them to thrive in their particular climate.

Broadly speaking, there are three major forest zones that are separated according to their distance from the equator. These are:

  • the tropical,
  • temperate,
  • and boreal forests (taiga).

There are also more specific types of forests within these larger regions.

World forest cover. Image credits: NASA Earth Observatory

Tropical forests

Tropical rain forests grow around the equator in South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. They have the highest species diversity per area in the world, containing millions of different species. Even though they cover only a small part of the earth, they house at least one half of all species. The temperature is stable year-round, around 27°C (60° Fahrenheit). As you can tell from the name, it rains a lot in these forests. Most tropical forests receive at least 200 cm (80 inches) of rain in a year. Tropical forests generally have a rainy and dry season.

Tropical rain forests contain millions of species. Image credits: Thomas Schoch

The high temperatures, abundant rainfall, together with twelve hours of light a day promotes the growth of many different plants. One square kilometer (0.6 miles) can have up to 100 different tree species. Broadleaf trees, mosses, ferns, palms, and orchids all thrive in rain forests. The trees grow very densely together and the branches and leaves block most of the light from penetrating to the understory. Many animals adapted to life in trees — such as monkeys, snakes, frogs, lizards, and small mammals — are found in these forests.

Map of global tropical (dark green) and temperate/subtropical (light green) rainforests. Image credits: Ville Koistinen

The soil can be several meters deep, but due to nutrient leaching, it lacks most of the essential nutrients for plant growth. The thin topsoil layer contains all the nutrients from decaying plants and animals, and this thin layer sustains the many plant species in the forest. One might think that the soil would be very rich because it supports so much life, but when tropical forests are clear-cut, the soil is useless for agriculture after only a few years — when the topsoil becomes depleted.

Different subcategories within tropical rain forests

  • Evergreen: rain year-round, no dry season
  • Seasonal: vegetation evergreen, short dry season,
  • Dry: long dry season in which trees lose leaves
  • Montane: most precipitation from mist or fog that rises (also called cloud forests), mostly conifers
  • Tropical and subtropical coniferous: dry and warm climate with conifers adapted to variable weather
  • Sub-tropical: north and south of tropical forests, trees adapted to resist summer drought

    Mindo cloud forest in Ecuador. Image credits: Ayacop

Temperate forests

Temperate forests occur in the next latitude ring, in North America, northeastern Asia, and Europe. There are four well-defined seasons in this zone including winter. In general, the temperature ranges from -30 to 30°C (-22 to 86 F) and the forests receive 75-150 cm (30-60 in) of precipitation per year. Deciduous — or leaf-shedding — trees make up a large proportion of the tree composition in addition to some coniferous trees such as pines and firs. The decaying fallen leaves and moderate temperatures combine to create fertile soil. On average, there are 3-4 tree species per square km. Common tree species are oak, beech, maple, elm, birch, willow, and hickory trees. Common animals that live in the forest are squirrels, rabbits, birds, deer, wolves, foxes, and bears. They are adapted to both cold winters and warm summer weather.

Global temperate deciduous and mixed forests. Image credits: Terpsichores

Temperate evergreen coniferous forests are found in the northwestern Americas, South Japan, New Zealand, and Northwestern Europe. These forests are also called temperate rain forests because of the large amount of rainfall they see. The temperature stays pretty constant throughout the year, with a lot of precipitation, 130-500 cm (50-200 in). All this rain creates a moist climate and a long growing season, which results in very large trees. Evergreen conifers dominate these forests. Common species are cedar, cypress, pine, spruce, redwood, and fir. There are still some deciduous trees such as maples and many mosses and ferns — resulting in a Jurassic-looking forest. Common animals roaming the woods are deer, elk, bears, owls, and marmots.

Coastal temperate rainforest. Image credits: Sam Beebe

Subcategories within temperate forests

  • Moist conifer and evergreen broad-leaved: mild wet winters and dry summers
  • Dry conifer: at higher elevations, little rainfall
  • Mediterranean: located south of temperate regions around coast, almost all trees evergreen
  • Temperate broad-leaved rainforest: mild, frost-free winters, lots of rain throughout the whole year, evergreen

Boreal forests

Boreal forests, also called taiga, are found between 50 and 60 degree of latitude in the sub-Arctic zone. This area contains Siberia, Scandinavia, Alaska, and Canada. Trees are coniferous and evergreen.


Global boreal forests. Image credits: Terpsichores

There are two seasons here: a short, moist, mildly-warm summer and a long cold dry winter. Temperatures range from -40 to 20°C (-40 to 68° Fahrenheit). Precipitation is usually delivered as snow because it is so cold, 40-100 cm (15-40 inches) each year. The ground is comprised of a very thin layer of nutrient-poor, acidic soil. The canopy lets very little light through so there is usually little growing in the understory. Evergreen conifers with needle leaves that can stand the cold, like pine, fir, and spruce trees, live here. Animals that live in these forests can withstand long periods of cold temperatures and usually have thick fur or other insulation — among them are moose, bears, lynx, wolf, deer, wolverines, caribou, bats, small mammals, and birds.

Aerial view of a boreal forest. Image credits: Cephas

The world’s forests are incredibly diverse and act as a carbon sink! They should be protected for their beauty and functionality.

Tags: ForeststreesTypes of forests

Deciduous Tree

3.4 Deciduous Dipterocarp Woodland

Deciduous dipterocarp forest forms a relatively low and open forest or woodland community dominated by deciduous trees. Community structure may range from virtually closed canopy forest of low trees 5–8 m in height, with occasional emergents reaching 10–12 m, to an open woodland structure with 50–80% canopy cover. In all cases, there is an open understory dominated by grasses. This forest formation has often been termed dry dipterocarp forest, but this designation is unfortunate in that it has led to confusion with dry evergreen forest. The use of deciduous dipterocarp forest or woodland is the more appropriate designation used here. This community has also been termed idaing in Burma (Stamp, 1925) and forêt claire a dipterocarpacées in Lao (Vidal, 1956–1960; 1960).

Deciduous dipterocarp woodland covers more area in mainland Southeast Asia than any other forest type. It extends from northeastern India and Burma (Champion and Set, 1968) through Thailand (Rundel and Boonpragob, 1995) to the Mekong River region of Lao (Vidal, 1956–1960), Cambodia (Aubreville, 1957; Pfeffer, 1969; Rollet, 1953, 1972), and Viet Nam (Schmid, 1974). Over this range, it characteristically occurs in areas with 1000–1500 mm rainfall and 5–7 months of drought. Potential evapotranspiration may exceed rainfall for up to 9 months per year.

Deciduous species of Dipterocarpaceae form the dominant element of deciduous dipterocarp woodlands. Only six species of the approximately 550 dipterocarps in the world are deciduous and all of these occur in this formation. Four of these, Shorea siamensis, Shorea obtusa, Dipterocarpus obtusifolius, and Dipterocarpus tuberculatus, generally form the dominant biomass and cover. Also present is a reasonable diversity of other small trees, particularly legumes. Pinus merkusii may be a codominant. Overall, deciduous dipterocarp woodland exhibits relatively moderate species richness, and a similar floristic structure extends broadly across mainland Southeast Asia. While the woodland association itself has endemic species, there are relatively few local endemics.

Fire is a frequent event in most deciduous dipterocarp woodlands. Areas with regular human impact commonly have fire at intervals of 1–3 years through both deliberate and accidental ignitions. Most fires occur between December and early March in Thailand when woodland conditions are driest. Dominant tree species in this formation exhibit adaptations to fire in the form of thick corky bark to protect cambium tissues and root crowns which readily resprout (Stott, 1984, 1986, 1988a,b, 1990; Stott et al., 1990; Sukwong et al., 1975).

Deciduous dipterocarp woodland may occur in higher rainfall areas where local soil conditions due to laterites or shallow rocky soil produce functionally dry edaphic conditions. Such sites are present in northern Lao where annual rainfall may be between 1500 and 2000 mm, as around Vientiane, or even wetter conditions to the north of Pakse. Vidal (1956–1960) suggested that deciduous dipterocarp woodland over its entire range is really an edaphic subclimax on shallow, rocky, and nutrient-deficient soils, with dry evergreen woodland as a climatic climax community. Human activities over centuries have also acted to promote the expansion of deciduous dipterocarp woodlands at the expense of semievergreen forest. Fire has undoubtedly been the most significant single factor in promoting these changes.

The deciduous dipterocarp woodlands are strongly deciduous, with virtually the entire community leafless in at least some part of the dry season. Vidal (1956–1960; 1960) reported that 95% of tree species and 84% of shrub species in the stands that he studied were deciduous. Woody species began to lose their leaves in December and reach a peak of deciduousness in February (85% of species deciduous) and March (60% of species deciduous) before beginning to leaf out in April. Some individual species such as Dipterocarpus intricatus begin to lose their leaves in December, while other species such as S. siamensis do not typically begin to drop leaves until February. The timing of leaf fall is highly variable between sites and years, however, depending on soil-moisture availability.

Lowland pine forests dominated by P. merkusii are common on thin, but well-drained soils under semihumid rainfall regime (Rundel, 1999). Dipterocarpus obtusifolius is the most frequent associate of P. merkusii, particularly in areas with a shallow impermeable hardpan. These open forests have scattered shrubby associates and a grassy understory. In many respects, these pine forests represent an extension of deciduous dipterocarp forest, with the addition of the pine as a dominant or codominant species. In the French literature, this community has been lumped with deciduous dipterocarp forest as forêt claire (Aubreville, 1956), or separated and termed pinede à P. merkusii (Maurand, 1943), forêt claire de gymnospermes (Vidal, 1956–1960), or pinede et forêt claire à P. merkusii (Schmid, 1974).

Under heavy human impact, particularly from repeated fires, lowland areas of deciduous dipterocarp woodland may be converted to open savanna woodlands. The presence of shallow rocky soils promotes such conversions. Savanna habitats with a dominance of grasses and sedges and a scattered distribution of woody species are common in southern Lao with the degradation of dry dipterocarp woodland (Vidal, 1956–1960). These savanna woodlands may maintain a few of the hardier tree species from typical dry deciduous dipoterocarp woodlands, particularly fire resistant species such as S. siamensis and P. merkusii. Other fire-tolerant tree species include Careya arborea, Mitragyna parvifolia, Acacia siamensis, A. catechu, and P. macrocarpus (Smitinand, 1988).

Many varieties or types of trees of varying sizes and shapes confront us all over the earth from an ecosystem that accommodates more than 140,000 varieties of animals and microorganisms. In the language of science, trees play an important part in the life of human beings as well as the environment. As such, it is imperative that we plant and conserve many types of trees in order to sustain their count and protect the ecosystem and the environment. The trees are categorized into two, i.e., coniferous types and deciduous types of trees.
Trees have life; they have branches, leaves, wooden trunks and roots. Certain trees possess flowers or fruits and are tall as well.
Trees are graded based on their characteristics and features. According to the structure of the leaves, they are graded as non green and green. Certain tree leaves are colored green and in certain seasons, they become dry, whereas other tree leaves are evergreen. Given below is the list of varieties of trees:

We categorize trees in different ways; even then the main two classifications are:

Deciduous Trees

Photo by: Kundan Ramisetti

Deciduous trees are one classification; these trees drop down their foliage in order to adapt themselves to the dry and cold weather conditions. These classes of trees grow very tall; quickly and also have a long life. This class of trees is subdivided into four categories according to the placing of their leaves and their varieties. They are popularly used to landscape and also to make corks for bottles. The Illustrations are the poplar, oak, maple as well as the ash trees. These trees are mainly seen in the zones of the sub-tropics, tropics or in the temperate regions. Nevertheless the evergreen trees are chiefly seen in the regions around the equator.

You can purchase these trees from the nurseries; they are available in three types. These types are grown in containers initially. The trees are further transferred and planted according to their use and type. Their use comprises of:

  • Landscaping in parks, streets and also homes.
  • Breaking or shielding from the wind in places where the harsh winds blow
  • Construction, building and making furniture.
  • fencing for privacy.
  • Medicinal and natural remedial use.
  • Use as charcoal and firewood.
  • Recreational uses
  • Obtaining fruits from the ones that bear fruits.

Broad-leaf Trees

The leaves of these trees are broad; therefore they are occasionally termed as broad leaf trees. When compared to the coniferous trees, their leaves are broader, bigger and round in shape. As they grow, the leaves spread out. During the autumn season, the leaves of the deciduous trees are liable to drop. Since the leaves are bigger in size, their surface area too becomes greater for photosynthesis, whereby the leaves are unable to withstand the climatic changes. The majority of these types of trees are of the hardwood variety. It is for the sake of their costly timber that these trees are mainly grown.

Some of the Well Known Deciduous Trees

Flowering Trees (Deciduous)

These are trees which bring out the flowers that generate a pleasant scenery with their colorful blooms.

Oak Trees (Deciduous)

The wood of these types of trees is hard, and the flowers are formed in bunches. Generally they are recognized by their fruit called acorn. They thrive on mountain slopes in the low lands of the high ranges or in wet regions. They produce flowers in spring, detaching large quantities of pollen grains in the wind.

Ash Trees (Deciduous)

Ash trees: These types of trees grow at the beginning of spring; they are in general, prized for their timber and are of various types. They bear solitary fruits named Samaras; their petals are long with sweet gum. Within duration of ten years, these trees die, and the scientists have not yet not succeeded in finding out an enduring solution to this.They are also investigating the possibility of life threatening fungus infestation.

Big Trees

These types of trees grow to heights of 40 feet and give protection or refuge. This comprises of the oak, sweet gum and many more.

Willow Trees (Deciduous)

Willow trees: These trees flourish in moist places like on the banks of rivers. Their leaves are used for decoration and also as food for wild animals. Besides, the wood of this tree is used for several needs. The flowers are of male and female varieties, deficient in petals and sepals.

Shade Trees (Deciduous)

Shade trees: They are believed to give shelter and shield from the direct sunlight. They spread their branches with large leaves without gaps thus shielding the sunlight and providing sufficient shade.

Olive Trees (Deciduous)

Olive trees: These are famous for their wood and sweet fruits. Their flowers are white in color and the fruit is tiny and green in color. When it is ripe, the color turns purple or blue. This fruit contains an acid; so prior to eating this fruit; it is suggested to wash it well. The oil extracted from this fruit supplements fat.

Acer Palmatum

The Japanese maple, otherwise known as Acer platinum is a deciduous variety of tree, wide spread in the Southern and Northern regions of Korea, Southern east regions of Russia, Japan and the Eastern regions of Mongolia. The height to which this tree grows is 30 ft and at times, even up to 50 ft. The majority of leaves are seen with many lobes, having border showing twin serrations.

Chinese Cedar

The Chinese Cedar is still a different amazing deciduous kind of tree. The leaves of this tree are light pink at the beginning stage and later on change to a creamy color, lastly it becomes dark green. This Chinese Cedar is slim and grows straight up to a height of around 8 m.

Dogwood Trees

Dogwood Trees are from the Cornus genus, they are either shrubs or a deciduous variety. This is identified by many, by its flowers, berries and the type of bark. A few of these are evergreen and cultivated for the purpose of horticulture; there are several ultimate uses of this tree

European Beech

European beech or Fagus Sylvatica or just beech, is from the Fagaceae beech family and of a deciduous group of trees. This is a tall variety, which grows to a height of approximately 100 ft. The diameter of the trunk is around 4, 9 feet (1,5m). We come across these trees stretching from the northern regions of Sicily in Italy to the southern portions of Sweden, Southern parts of England, North Portugal, France, Central regions of Spain, and to the northwestern regions of Turkey, Crepe Myrtle (Langerstroemia)

This Crepe Myrtle tree favors hot weather conditions, and is an alternate for the Japanese Maple Tree. This variety is an eye-catching specimen having crepe type flowers in bunches of colors- red, pink, purple, mauve and white. On account of this coloration, the foliage appears variegated. The peculiarity of this tree is that it sheds its bark in winter.

Golden Chain Tree

The Golden Chain Tree or Laburnum Vossil are deciduous variety of trees that grow 16 ft tall. During spring, it exhibits its gorgeous green colored leaves that racemes flowers of yellow color and of a long variety.


These types of deciduous plants are either in the form of trees or in the form of blossoming shrubs. During winter, it brings out its beauty and at spring, it enhances its beauty. At this time the branches that are naked begin to bloom cluster of flowers.

Baldcypress is in reality a deciduous one having the characteristics of a coniferous tree. This tree grows to a great height; its bark is colored brown with a tint of either red or grey. The deciduous branches of the tree are oriented in a spiral manner, having leaves of needle shape on the stems. Similar to other deciduous trees, this one too sheds off its leaves in winter, because of which it is named “bald”


Do coniferous trees resemble evergreen trees? The majority of the coniferous trees are evergreen trees; however, certain deciduous trees are also evergreen trees. Throughout the year the evergreen trees retain their leaves and drop them slowly. But, a few deciduous trees from the southern areas having broad and flat leaves retain them the whole year round. Therefore, that is it! The majority of the coniferous and a few deciduous trees are evergreen trees.

Coniferous Trees

Photo by: Gus Tonsay

Evergreens is an alternate name for coniferous trees, they preserve their leaves evergreen throughout the year. Among the existing varieties that exceed 600, coniferous are known as the tallest and age old trees. These coniferous trees are subdivided into two, one tree having spiny needle shaped leaves and the others of fir, Pine and Hemlock varieties, all with broad leaves. Generally these trees take the shape of a large canopy, averting plants of small size from growing under their shade.

It is declared that Bristlecone pine is the primeval of all the coniferous trees ; they survive up to 5000 years. The Coast Redwood is taller than all the others with a height of 100 m. The two coniferous trees grow in California. Varieties of items are produced from the wood of the coniferous tree; they are paper, anticancer medicines, furniture and so on. They are also taken for lumbering.

On account of their vast use, they are misused by many; deforestation as well as devastation of the homes of myriad animals are some of the other reasons.


Initially these coniferous trees are spread all over the northern regions of the hemisphere, endemic to the Arctic Circle, they thrive in vast areas. Besides, we come across these trees in Europe, Africa, America and Asia. It is also possible for you to find tropical types.
These coniferous trees do not shed their leaves every year, they are evergreen throughout. Most of these are soft wood trees tolerate all kinds of weather, and they are robust.
Coniferous trees are not that much in demand as the deciduous ones; this does not mean that they have inferior timber. Following are the different kinds of these trees:
Main Coniferous Trees

Christmas Trees (Coniferous)

Christmas Trees existed prior to the 17th century. According to a myth, Martin Luther, on his journey along the forest, discovered this Christmas tree. In addition to this, in the year 1841, Prince Albert of England presented t a Christmas tree as a gift to Queen Victoria and later this was practiced all over the world. People decorate this Christmas tree with diverse embellishments.

Cedar Trees

Photo by: Smabs Sputzer

Cedrus (the general name is Cedar), belongs to the family of plants of the coniferous tree genus. They are inhabitants of the Mediterranean region and the Western Himalayan Mountains. They grow in the Himalayas at altitudes ranging from 1,500 m to 3,200 m and in the Mediterranean regions to heights of 1,000 to 2,200m.

The heights to which Cedrus trees grow is from 30 to 40 m (infrequently 60m). The wood is spicy, resinous and perfumed. The bark has broad ridges with square shaped cracks; the branches are level and broad. The tree has long and dimorphic shoots. This makes up the structure of the branches and the shoots that hold the majority of the leaves. The evergreen leaves grow 8 to 60mm long like needles.

Fir Trees

Fir, otherwise named Abies, comprises of 48 to 55 varieties of evergreen coniferous trees and belongs to the Pinaceae family. One sees them in most of the places of Central and North America, Asia, Europe and North Africa. They grow all over the mountainous regions. Firs are closely associated with the Cedrus (cedar) genus. Douglas firs of the Pseudotsuga are not real firs.

The indigenous varieties grow as tall as 10 to 18 m (30 to 60 ft.) and to a diameter of (0.5 to 4 m) 2 to 12 ft or 0.5 to 4 m. When fully developed, firs are differentiated from their relatives in the pine family, by their special connection of the leaves of needle shape and because of the dissimilar cones


The Japanese tree called Tsuga Sieboldii belongs to the coniferous genus of the pine family Pinaceae.Tsuga derived its name hemlock by identifying the scent resembling the compacted leaves of this tree, which has no similarity to the hemlock plant poison. Tsuga is not poisonous like the hemlock.

These trees that grow to heights of 10 to 60m (33 to 197 ft.) are average sized evergreen trees, In a few Asian plants, the crown is regular, otherwise, it is conical. The top shoots normally are normally drooped. It has a wrinkled bark, dark grey or dark brown in color.

Eastern hemlock relates to Sugar Maple Red Spruce of the Northern Forest provinces, the White Pine and Yellow Birch. in the Southern and Central forest areas along with Red Oak, Fraser Fir, Red Maple, yellow poplar and Beech.

Oregon and Western Washington and the adjacent redwood forests of the coasts of the northern California comprise the Western hemlock.

Larch Trees

Larches belong to the Pinaceae family; they are of the genus Larix s and are conifers. They grow to heights of 20 to 45 m. They are inhabitants of the northern hemisphere where the temperature is very cool, in places like high southern mountains and the low lying lands of the North. Larches belong to the leading plants dominating the huge boreal forests of Scandinavia, Russia and Canada.

Even though Larch is a conifer, it displays its deciduous features by shedding its leaves during autumn. The dimorphic shoots separate into long shoots of length 10 to 15 cm and possess many buds.

Pine Trees

Pines belong to the Pinaceae family of the Pinus genus and they are conifers. In the subordinate group, they are the lone genus.

Pines are coniferous and resinous evergreen trees (or infrequently grow as shrubs), they grow to heights of 3 to 80 m, and most of them attain heights up to 15 -45 m. The tallest is the ponderosa Pine tree which grows to a height of 268.35 ft (82 to 79 m) and the smallest are the Potosi Pinyon and the Siberian dwarf pine. The tall trees are situated in the south of Oregon’s Rogue River- Siskiyou National Forest. The majority of the barks are scaly and thick, however the bark of certain varieties, display a thin and flaky appearance.

Redwood Trees

Sequoioideae (redwoods) is a subordinate member in the Cupressaeeae family having 3 genera.

They are: the Sequoia, Sequoiadendron hailing from U.S.A, California and Oregon and the Metasequoia from China. The biggest and tallest of the world trees are those of the redwood varieties; they survive up to thousands of years. This species is in extinction, on account of the loss of their habitat from fire ecology, air pollution, logging and suppression.
The huge trees that are said to exist are the Sequoiadendron and the Sequoia trees. The much smaller variety that still exists is the Metasequoia Glyptostroboides.

The Stratosphere Giant

The Coast redwood, botanically named Sequoia Semprevirens is the towering tree of the world. It reaches a height of 112.1 meters (367.8 ft). In 1963, The National Geographic Society found out a redwood tree on the banks of Redwood Creek which they labeled as the tallest tree. This is the Stratosphere Giant. But this tree which used to reign as the tallest tree had to abdicate its place to three other competitors.

Similar to this gigantic 370 footer, the other trees too are the coast redwood. During this summer these trees were found out by a group of investigators from the state of California who were criss crossing the Coastal forests of the Northern areas to explore trees that are taller, during their leisure.

Spruce Trees

The spruce tree belongs to the Picea genus from the 35 various varieties of the evergreen coniferous type of trees that belong to the group of Pinaceae. We come across them in the boreal regions, also called taiga as well as the temperate regions of the world. Spruce trees are large varieties that grow as tall as 20 to 60 meters (66 to 197 feet) when they are mature. These trees are identified by their conical formation and swirling branches. Their leaves that are needle like are affixed individually to their branches in twirling style on tiny framed pegs namely apulvinus. They shed the needles at 4 to 10 years.

flowers, green, large, leaves

What Are Some Hardy Trees For Zone 3 Landscapes

Zone 3 is one of the colder zones in the U.S., where winters are long and frigid. Many plants simply won’t survive in such harsh conditions. If you’re looking for help in choosing hardy trees for zone 3, then this article should help with suggestions.

Zone 3 Tree Selections

The trees you plant today will grow to become huge, architectural plants that form the backbone around which to design your garden. Choose trees that reflect your own personal style, but make sure they will thrive in your zone. Here are some zone 3 tree selections to choose from:

Amur maples are a pleasure in the garden any time of year, but they really show off in fall when the leaves turn a variety of brilliant colors. Growing up to 20 feet tall, these small trees are ideal for home landscapes, and they have the added advantage of being drought tolerant.

Ginkgo grows more than 75 feet tall and needs plenty of room to spread. Plant a male cultivar to avoid the messy fruit dropped by females.

The European mountain ash tree grows 20 to 40 feet tall when planted in full sun. In the fall, it bears an abundance of scarlet fruit that persists through winter, attracting wildlife to the garden.

Zone 3 Coniferous Trees

Norway spruce makes the perfect outdoor Christmas tree. Place it in sight of a window so you can enjoy the Christmas decorations from indoors. Norway spruce is drought resistant and seldom bothered by insects and diseases.

Emerald green arborvitae forms a narrow column 10 to 12 feet tall. It remains green year round, even in frigid zone 3 winters.

The eastern white pine grows up to 80 feet tall with a 40-foot spread, so it needs a large lot with plenty of room to grow. It’s one of the faster growing trees in cold climates. Its rapid growth and dense foliage make it ideal for forming quick screens or windbreaks.

Other Trees

Believe it or not, you can add a touch of the tropics to your zone 3 garden by growing a banana tree. The Japanese banana tree grows 18 feet tall with long, split leaves in summer. You’ll have to mulch heavily in winter to protect the roots, however.

Cold Hardy Deciduous Trees: What Are Good Deciduous Trees For Zone 3

If you live in one of the colder parts of the country, the trees you plant will have to be cold hardy. You may think you are limited to evergreen conifers. However, you also have quite a few cold hardy deciduous trees to choose between. If you would like to know the best types of hardy deciduous trees for zone 3, read on.

Zone 3 Deciduous Trees

The U.S. Department of Agriculture developed a zone system. It divides the country into 13 zones according to the coldest annual temperatures. Zone 1 is the coldest, but zone 3 is about as cold as it gets in the continental U.S., registering winter lows of minus 30 to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 to -40 C.). Many of the most northern states, like Montana, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Maine, include regions that are in zone 3.

While some evergreen trees are sufficiently cold hardy to survive in these extremes, you’ll also find zone 3 deciduous trees. Because deciduous trees go dormant in winter, they have an easier time making it through the windy winters. You’ll find more than a few cold hardy deciduous trees that will thrive in this zone.

Deciduous Trees for Cold Climates

What are the top deciduous trees for cold climates? The best deciduous trees for zone 3 in your region are likely to be trees that are native to the area. By choosing plants that naturally grow in your area, you help maintain nature’s biodiversity. You also assist native wildlife that require those trees for survival.

Here are a few deciduous trees native to North America that thrive in zone 3.

American mountain ash (Sorbus americana) is a great choice for a backyard tree. This little tree produces berries in autumn that serve as food for many native birds, including cedar waxwings, grosbeaks, red-headed woodpeckers and thrush.

Other cold hardy deciduous trees that bear fruit in zone 3 include the wild plum (Prunus americana) and the eastern serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis). Wild plum trees serve as nesting spots for wild birds and feed wildlife like fox and deer, while birds love the summer-ripening serviceberries.

You might also plant beech trees (Fagus grandifolia), tall, elegant trees with edible nuts. The starchy nuts feed many types of wild animals, from squirrels to porcupines to bear. Likewise, the nuts of butternut trees (Juglans cinerea) provide food for wildlife.

The Best Fruits to Plant in Cold Weather

Peach, grape, blueberry, cherry, strawberry, and apple lovers are in luck: Though these crops are considered to be among the most pesticide laden when conventionally raised, they’re a snap to grow organically at home. Now’s the time to plant bare-root stock of these trees and bushes; strawberries put in the ground this month will bear as soon as this spring and summer, and everything else will start producing in one to three years.

What to grow – Plus secrets for getting great fruit

To avoid peach leaf curl (a fungal disease that affects wet leaves) in damp climates, plant trees against a southfacing wall under an eave, and prune them into a fan shape. And if you’re short on space, plant three or four varieties in one hole, pruning off all but the outwardfacing branches.

The vines are easy to train along fences, pergolas, and deck rails. Stick with American varieties (Vitis labrusca) grown on their own roots to avoid the mildew and root louse (phylloxera) problems common to European grapes (V. vinifera).

There are three main types. Plant June-bearing for one big crop in late spring or early summer, everbearing for spring and fall crops, and day-neutral for a large crop in spring and smaller harvests all summer. The plants produce less fruit as they age, so replace them every three years.

These shrubs do well in all parts of the West except the desert, and since many varieties have magnificent fall color, you can also use them as showy garden plants. In mild climates, spotted-wing drosophila (related to the common fruit fly) can be a problem. In that case, use row covers after fruit sets.

Sweet cherries
Birds prefer red ones, so select a yellow-fruited variety if they tend to eat your crops, or be prepared to cover trees with netting. Cherries do well nearly everywhere except the desert, where they get too much heat, and the low elevations of Southern California, where there’s not enough winter chill.

Early-ripening varieties, which spoil quickly, are best used for sauce, while lateripening kinds last longest in storage. Apple maggot and codling moth damage fruit, but you can control them organically with sticky traps and Spinosad.

Why choose bare-root – Now’s the time

You have much more variety to choose from since most nurseries have space for only a small selection of fruit trees in containers.

Bare-root plants are less expensive than those in containers because they don’t have to be potted up for sale, and come from the grower in soilless bundles.

This means they’re light and easy to transport. Just make sure roots are packed in something like damp sawdust—if they dry out at any point between the nursery and the planting hole, the plant may die.

They establish themselves faster than the containerized fruits that nurseries sell later in the year.

Birds & the bees

Blueberries, cherries, and apples need to be pollinated, so buy a self-pollinating variety, pick a tree with a pollinator grafted onto it, or plant two varieties that cross-pollinate. Consult the Western Garden Book of Edibles (Sunset Publishing, 2010; $25) or a nursery for which ones do best in your zone.

Growing organically

Plants that get full sun, good air circulation, and regular water and organic fertilizer are least prone to insects and diseases, making pest control easier.

Good sanitation also helps: Harvest fruit as soon as it matures, and keep the ground beneath plants raked clean of fallen leaves and fruit, which can attract and harbor pests.

If birds are a problem, cover blueberries, grapes, strawberries, and dwarf fruit trees with netting; tie metallic Flash Tape on the branches of larger trees.

Top 10 Winter Plants

­Fair weather or foul, nature finds a way to create variety and interest in the garden, and winter is no exception. Whether they’re blooming through a crust of snow, or showing off their vivid colors­ while dropping temperatures force us indoors, hardy winter plants are doing more than just surviving when the winter rolls in; they’re thriving. These garden inhabitants create interest, texture and a touch of the unexpected in the landscape when our springtime favorites are taking a long winter’s nap — and they do it with style.

Let’s take a look at 10 plants, trees and shrubs that can transform a barren, chilly landscape into a winter wonderland. For each plant, we’ll discuss what it will look like in your garden, what type of soil and water it needs, where it should be planted, and some tips and tricks to give it a chance to excel. We’ll also look at what zones the plants do best in, according to the USDA Hardiness Zone Map. This map splits North America into 11 sections, numbered 1 to 11, with each section being 10 degrees Fahrenheit (12.22 degrees Celsius) warmer or colder than the next section. This map is used to illustrate which plants can survive in which regions .


With a little imagination, and some well-deserved admiration for these special plants, even gardeners who don’t like to get cold feet will start to see gardening potential in the cooler months of the year. Exercising a green thumb when you have to bury it in the snow takes dedication, but there are some plants that deserve the effort. Give winter gardening a try; you might just discover that the cold is cooler than you thought.

First up, the camellia.

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