Tips for Planting Trees in Kansas

Tips for Planting Trees in Kansas

The late fall and early winter are the optimal times to plant trees and shrubs in Kansas before the ground freezes. By planting during this period and providing proper care, you can ensure that your newly established plants settle and acclimate to their new environment. This will ultimately increase their chances of survival during the following growing season.

However, it is essential to consider the diversity of tree species in your area. The Hesston City Tree Board conducted a street tree inventory and discovered an overabundance of Silver Maples, Siberian Elms, and Pin Oaks in their town. These three species represent a staggering 31% of the total tree population, far exceeding the recommended 5% limit for any one species. Over-reliance on a single species can lead to insect and disease problems that can devastate the entire population.

To address this issue and restore balance, the City of Hesston and the Tree Board devised a five-year planting strategy that promotes diversity. While specifically intended for Hesston, this strategy can be applied to almost any community in Kansas. Below is a list of recommended tree species native to eastern or central Kansas and adaptable to the entire state.

Recommended Tree Species for Kansas

Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)

A large, broad-spreading tree reaching dimensions of 70’ x 70’. Bur Oaks boast long, smoothly lobed leaves that come to life in the fall, attracting lively squirrel activity as the acorns mature. Plant this species if you have ample space and want an excellent shade tree.

Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra)

With its rounded growth habit, the Northern Red Oak can reach heights and widths of 60’ x 60’. Its lustrous dark green leaves turn a beautiful russet-red in the fall, adding a touch of elegance to any landscape.

Shingle Oak (Quercus imbricaria)

Initially pyramidal in shape, Shingle Oaks gradually become broad and rounded, reaching dimensions of 50’ x 50’ at maturity. Their unlobed, lustrous dark green leaves transform into a range of yellow brown to russet-red hues in the fall, persisting even through the winter.

Post Oak (Quercus stellata)

Although hard to find in nurseries, the Post Oak is worth the effort. This dense-rounded tree, measuring approximately 40’ x 40’, features shiny green, roundly lobed leaves. Its unique characteristics make it a valuable addition to any landscape.

American Linden, Basswood (Tilia americana)

Boasting dimensions of 60’ x 60’, the American Linden is an upright pyramidal to broadly open tree. Its gray, smooth bark, fragrant creamy-yellow flowers in late spring, and dark green leaves make it an excellent choice for a shade tree.

Sugarberry (Celtis laevigata)

Recognized for its smooth gray bark and rounded growth habit, the Sugarberry can reach dimensions of 40’ x 40’. The sweet date-like taste of its fruits makes them highly sought after by birds.

Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

Hackberries are widely adaptable to various areas within Kansas. These trees, reaching heights and widths of 40’ x 40’, can withstand the state’s challenging conditions. With rough, deeply furrowed bark, they serve as essential larval food sources for various butterfly species.

Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)

Catalpas are highly adaptable to a wide range of soils, from wet to dry. Despite being considered a messy tree due to leaf and seed pod dropping, these trees are worth growing. Their open, irregular crowns (50’ x 40’) and large heart-shaped leaves create an eye-catching spectacle when their showy flowers bloom in May and June.

Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)

Boasting oval-rounded toughness and dimensions of 40’ x 35’, Persimmons offer fragrant white blueberry-shaped flowers in May and June. However, the real treat comes in the fall when the edible fruit ripens, and the foliage transforms into vibrant shades of yellow to reddish-purple.

American Hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)

Though rare in nurseries, the American Hophornbeam is an ideal street tree due to its pyramidal youth and rounded mature shape (25’ x 30’). It features deep green leaves with sharp serrations and turns yellow-brown in the fall.

Planting these diverse tree species in your neighborhood and landscape will help increase overall tree diversity and improve the health and balance of your local ecosystem. For more information on the trees mentioned above or other suitable species for your area, reach out to your local tree board, horticulture extension agent, or visit the arboretum. You can also find valuable information and tips on tree planting at Tips Tree Planting.

Remember, diversity is the key to long-term tree planting success!