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Illinois Guide to Growing Trees

Many people are looking for information on the best way to grow trees in Illinois. Whether you're a tree farmer or just interested in gardening, this guide will help you with your decision-making process and offer suggestions that can make your life easier!
Trees in Illinois

The Best Flowering Trees to Grow in Illinois

Pink Dogwood

The Pink Dogwood Tree is a flowering tree that offers bright pink blooms in the springtime and color variations that other trees don't provide. You will never get the same color twice with Dogwood’s blooms, which start slightly pink and deepen to a richer pink as your tree matures. Its vivid foliage and upright growth habit provide showy flowers all year. When autumn arrives you still have red leaves to brighten up your landscape. Gray tree trunks with bright red fruit and cinnamon-patterned bark are surprisingly attractive to people but also entice graceful wildlife, like cardinals and songbirds. The Pink Dogwood is well-known for being a low-branching, symmetrical tree that gives four seasons of vibrancy and good looks. The Pink Dogwood is a great choice for Illinois because it displays an interesting range of habits—it does well in any type of soil, tolerates drought, and can grow down to -10 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale. Forget spending hours planting or watering plants as soon as they come home from work with this tree that will give you professional results without much upkeep.

Planting & Care

Choose a well-drained, sunny spot for your planting site. Plant in a hole that is twice the width of the root ball but as deep. Place the top of your tree's root ball even at ground level and fill it in with your own soil (available at any garden center). Water and tamp down surrounding earth mulch around the base of the tree. To grow a healthy dogwood tree, water the area every 7 to 10 days or when it becomes dry about 3-4 inches deep. Overwatering will show itself with lighter green leaves that droop towards the soil, while under watering may cause brown edges on your leaves. Dogwoods do not require fertilization, but if you are using fertilizer, feed in April or May with any general-purpose fertilizer.

Lavender Twist Weeping Redbud Tree

The Lavender Twist Weeping Redbud makes an excellent contrast to the traditional upright form of the native tree. This cultivar produces a cascading profusion of lavender flowers in springtime. With its Lavender Twist, this plant is always a winner! The tree changes color seasonally and features stunning flowers. These trees are not only aesthetically appealing but also very low maintenance. Even if you live in an area with harsh winters, these plants can handle the weather. Plant one in your garden today!

Planting & Care

To plant your Redbud, find a spot that receives 6 to 8 hours of light and is well-drained. Dig a hole three times the size of the root ball and place it there. Fill in around the roots with soil and water thoroughly to settle them. The redbud’s establishment period generally occurs during the winter months. You can water it sparingly as it is very drought-tolerant and requires little maintenance apart from a light trimming if desired.

The Best Shade Trees in Illinois

Redpointe Maple

Redpointe Maple shade trees have brilliant red foliage in the fall, but it's only one thing that makes this tree a favorite. It has a more pyramidal shape and deep green leaves year-round, making it attractive for all seasons. Plus, it is bred to be adaptable - both its shape and size are perfect for property landscaping accents. Homeowners that prefer vibrant leaves in autumn, as well as the green shade with highlights of white, are often drawn to the Redpointe Maple. This tree includes a unique advantage: early spring brings silky, peachy flowers followed by stunning red leaves later in the year. The Redpointe Maple is resistant to pests and diseases that may afflict maples because it grows in high pH soils. In addition, the Redpointe Maple is easy to plant and grow. Unlike other varieties of trees that may require specific soil conditions or a climate with certain temperature variations, this tree can be planted in many different places as long as it receives adequate water during the drier months.

Planting & Care

The Redpointe Maple tree prefers well-draining soil and a sunny location. When planting, measure the space your tree is coming out of (width and depth) - digging the hole one to two times as deep in diameter as size from rootball to ground surface, with proper depth for pot style when inserting plant. Once the water has had a chance to absorb into the root ball and surrounding soil, backfill the remaining soil. Pack firmly and water again before mulching to retain moisture and keep other plants from growing close. To retain the Redpointe Maple's green leaves, keep it in a well-lit area and provide plenty of water during its formative years. Keep this tree irrigated while aging to avoid drooping leaves that may signify over-watering or under-watering. Properly fertilizing your new maple tree is important for its health. It is best to use slow-release fertilizer twice a month while the tree is in growth, and once per month after leaf growth or summer. If you want to prune this tree, make sure it is dormant in Fall and avoid fertilizing, which causes leaves all year round. One good time to trim the tree is right before it goes dormant when its sap flow slows down. However, try not to cut off too many branches because they will cause a bigger problem if left unchecked since trees won’t be able to grow as well.

Sawtooth Oak Tree

If you are looking for a fast-growing tree that can provide the majesty of an Oak while not taking 50 years to mature, then the Sawtooth Oak is perfect. This Asian oak has been grown in the U.S. since the mid-1800s and takes 2-3 feet per year to grow. In 15 years those trees will get 30 feet tall! The Sawtooth Oak tree has a pyramidal shape when it starts, but matures to become broadly rounded with dense leaves providing effortless shade. New leaves emerge bright yellow-green, change into dark green in summer, and then turn deep gold or russet red in the fall. They have distinctive toothed edges, inspiring the commonly used name of cedar elm.

Planting & Care

The best planting site for an oak tree is one that is made of loose soil with plenty of suns. Once the hole has been dug, make sure it's twice as wide as the root system and deep enough to cover your roots. When placing the shrub in its new location be sure to hold it upright so that gravity doesn't yank on them and then fill up the hole halfway with dirt. Then complete covering a plant's entire root system with soil, tamp down any air pockets of dirt you might have created, and top off with more mulch to help retain moisture around your newly planted tree. At the start of the first year, make sure to water your Sawtooth Oak Tree during extended dry spells, particularly in summer. If you're not sure when to water this tree, just check if there's any soil left at a depth of 3 inches - if it's dry here then that means your Sawtooth needs more water. Fertilize moderately with organic fertilizer and follow label instructions for proper fertilizing guidelines.

The Best Fruit Trees in Illinois

Maxim Strawberry

Maximize your strawberry harvest with the Maxim Strawberry! Full of juice and flavor without being overwhelmingly large, this easy-to-grow variety is perfect for any home gardener. Grow in a pot, garden bed, or row to create a strawberry patch in your backyard. Sweet flowers to brighten up your garden in the spring make these strawberries well worth growing. With little care, you can enjoy them until the end of summer! This plant's berries will grow mid-late May/early June when you need them most. One of the many joys of gardening is being able to enjoy strawberries while they are in season. Imagine a hot summer afternoon enjoying fresh-picked strawberries and cream, knowing that your hard work has provided you with these opportunities! Maxim Strawberries are especially giant, so not only can you store them for later use but also share them with friends and family. Order these delicious plants today, and soon enough your garden will be ready with plenty to offer everyone!

Planting & Care

Plant your Maxim Strawberry in a sunny spot with well-draining soil. If you're planting in the ground, make sure there's ample room for root growth (i.e., plant it shallow). Fill the hole up halfway with organic matter such as compost, peat moss, or aged manure and then place the strawberry into it; if you're planting your Maxim Strawberry in a pot, select something that has space for drainage holes. Plant strawberries row by row, short side to short side to allow airflow through the bed which helps prevent disease problems. In the first year after planting, water plants gently and provide them with a high-nitrogen fertilizer in Spring. Remove buds from that first year's stem growths so the plant begins fruiting in its second year when you can also attend to light pruning of leaves as needed. Birds enjoy strawberries too much to have them grown in the backyard. There are many methods to discourage pests and protect your fruit, but these three will help you get started: plant pungent herbs near your strawberry patches; use a scarecrow, old CDs, or netting to frighten off birds; or manually remove pests like slugs or bugs that threaten your plants.

Bartlett Pear Tree

No matter how much you like pears at the grocery store, it is difficult to get a taste of the true flavor without tending your pear tree. The biggest benefit of growing your pear tree in your backyard is that you can grow fruit and harvest them when they are ripe, instead of buying one from the grocery store. This results in an awesome tasting pear with more beneficial vitamins for you! The Bartlett is a popular pear tree, best known for its sweet and juicy fruit. The Bartlett provides bushels of pears annually, which are perfect for canning, cooking, or snacking. You can pick yours when they're ripe in late summer. When they're ripe the pear's taste fills your yard with a delicious aroma. A cold-hardy hybrid that is versatile and grows well in various soils. Order now to ensure you get the right number before it sells out this tree will sell quickly so buy yours today!

Planting & Care

Give your pear tree a location that features full sun and well-draining soil. Carefully dig a hole three times the size and just as deep as the root ball. Loosen and unwind any roots necessary so they are spread within the hole before covering it with soil completely. Place the tree in the hole, filling it up completely. Carefully pat down any air pockets with a spade before adding soil around all sides of the tree to level with ground level. When you have enough water, make sure to water all sides of the tree so that you don't damage its roots. Water your pear tree with enough water to cover the roots. Check for needed watering after hot spells, and stop the moisture in fall before the first frost has occurred. Resume watering once winter has ended by checking soil hydration again. It’s important to trim the pear tree’s central leader to promote an upright position. If there are any competing branches present, remove them so that multiple leaders do not form. Maintain the tree’s natural shape by pruning large lateral branches and dead, dying, or wilted ones away to help it focus its energy on growing healthy and producing fruit. Make sure your cutting tool is sterilized with rubbing alcohol before you start each cut for a clean finish where no pathogens can get in! Pear trees are prone to maggots, moths, scales, and aphids- as well as a variety of other pests. To prevent the infestation from these creatures during the early spring, you should treat the tree with an insecticide according to label instructions. Signs of infestation include yellowing or browning leaves, rotted fruit, and nibbled leaves. Harvesting pears during the growing season (October-November) is best done when they are full color and size. The fruit should also be firm to the touch. A tree will require two to three weeks until it's ready for harvest, so check it daily and pick it from the tree every other day until you have your desired amount.

When is The Best Time to Plant Trees in Illinois

The best time to plant trees in Illinois is before the last frost date. This will allow your tree to get a head start on its growth and also can help with prolonging the life of your tree. Trees that are planted too early, or after the first frost may die.

Can You Plant All Season Long?

The answer is yes! With our climate's long growing season, it's easy for gardeners to plant all year round in Illinois. Although it's not recommended for some plants, many plants can be planted all season long. It just depends on what type of plant and where you live.

What are The Best Trees to Plant Each Season in Illinois


Plant Illinois’s state flower, the lowly redbud tree. These beautiful pinkish-purple blossoms on these gorgeous shrubs add an extra pop of color all spring long!


Planting a cherry tree is recommended. These trees produce lovely, white flowers in the springtime that provide a delightful scent. The fruit they bear is also delicious!

Fall time

Pecan Trees’ unique nuts are tasty and packed full of nutrients! They're also great for wildlife because squirrels spend hours collecting them to store for winter.


It is best to plant White Pine Trees. Their needles make an excellent nesting material for birds during this chilly season, plus their soft blue-green color looks nice all year round.

What Trees Have The Least Invasive Roots in Illinois

Common Illinois trees with the least invasive roots are Red Maple, Silver Maple, Sugar Maple, Black Walnut, and White Ash.