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Pennsylvania Guide to Growing Trees

A tree is a living, breathing organism. Just like people, trees need to be nurtured and cared for if they are going to grow strong and healthy. There are many people across Pennsylvania who have inquired about how they can start their own tree. If this is something that has crossed your mind before, then we hope you find the following guide helpful. 

Growing Trees in Pennsylvania

The Best Flowering Trees to Grow in Pennsylvania

White Dogwood

White dogwoods (Cornus florida) are one of the earliest spring trees to bloom, typically as early as January in Pennsylvania. They grow well in soils from clay to loam and prefer moist or well-draining soil with plenty of light. Growing to heights of 20-30 ft. tall and 20 ft. wide, they bloom early in the very early spring before most other trees do even when it can still seem winter-like outside. These trees prefer dappled shade but grow in full sun too and have both spring flowers as well as red fall foliage that attracts lots of animals during the winter months. White Dogwood is a perennial with an exciting show of creamy white flowers from May to June, surrounded by dark green foliage. If you need a fall color tree, then the river birch is for you. These show consistent deep-colored leaves that change slowly to vibrant scarlet colors in autumn. This tree is versatile. It doesn't need to be the only tree in a landscape, but blossoms frequently on its own and can fit anywhere - from rows next to buildings or along with crosswalks.

Planting & Care

The soil of your planting site should be well-draining and the pH level should match that of most other plants at a 5.5 rating or lower. Dig a hole that is three times the diameter of your tree’s root ball and equally deep. Put the dogwood into the hole, with its roots stretching down evenly to line up with ground level. Fill back in with dirt and keep it even so that your trees will grow straight up from this point. Lay the roots out evenly and cover them with soil, tamping down lightly as you fill to avoid air pockets. Avoid over-firming at this point. Pour water on the area immediately so that the soil settles properly. Mulch around the base of the tree to conserve moisture in the ground and keep competing for growth (grass and weeds) from growing near your planting site. For trees like the dogwood, their shallow root systems can be susceptible to drying in the absence of regular rainfall. It’s best to water your tree once or twice a week and watch for signs that you either over-or under-water it. These trees do not require much fertilization, so if you decide to fertilize, only add a small amount. Add general purpose fertilizer in April or May and remember to be sparing. Keep weeds or grasses 3 feet away from the dogwood in your yard, and pull them. For new trees, place a mat or mulch around the base of the tree with 2-4 inches on top of it. The best defense against any pest or disease is a healthy tree. Proper watering and feeding will ensure your trees remain healthy and happy. If you are concerned that deer will eat your dogwood, consider using a cage to protect the tree(s). Deer repellents are not always effective, but fencing is. Your dogwood will be dormant during the late fall, winter, and early spring because the leaves will have fallen off and the tree's stem will turn brown. While above-ground activity comes to a halt, root growth continues beneath it. This rapid growth in roots come spring strengthens your dogwood for the upcoming growing season.

Chinese Fringe Tree

Highly manageable, upright branches and asymmetrical silhouette make Chinese Fringe Trees favorites in any garden. Plus with bright white blooms in the spring that emit heavenly fragrances in the spring, these trees are perfect for anyone who’s looking for something light and delicate. One of the most attractive features of this tree is that it looks good in smaller gardens as well. Plant them with larger evergreens or focus your garden on one for a more eye-catching display. They also do not have any fuss when it comes to dirt or air pollution, meaning they thrive from city streets to backyards and beyond.

Planting & Care

In order to successfully grow your Chinese Fringe Tree, select a location that receives both full and partial sun. Dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball of your tree; place it in the hole, backfill with soil. Compost is encouraged but not necessary. Water thoroughly after tamping around the base to settle roots before planting your tree. Watering your new tree once a week is crucial. Remember that the surrounding soil should be dry because of harvesting before watering and then follow up with watering until the water stops running through to the other side of the root ball. Make sure the soil is dry by digging down two to three inches. You want to find consistently moist and well-formed crumbs in this area before deciding if it's time to water. Feed a balanced fertilizer to your Chinese Fringe Tree in the spring before new growth emerges. Removing dead, diseased and damaged branches as they appear through the winter will help to provide a healthy environment for your tree. Consider removing any branch that grows towards the center of the tree or crosses other branches during winter.

The Best Shade Trees in Pennsylvania

Tamukeyama Japanese Maple Tree

The Tamukeyama trees have some of the most incredible shades of red leaves when they change colors in the fall time. Sturdy and hardy with its color staying strong throughout winter this is an excellent tree to plant anywhere! Three hundred years ago, the Japanese maple tree Tamukeyama was popularized. This Japanese maple is easy to grow in a variety of soil conditions in full sun or part shade and displays colorful foliage on both sides for four seasons each year- drawing much attention.

Planting & Care

If you live in a hotter climate, pick a spot with some afternoon shade for your trees. First, dig the hole about 2 to 3 times the width of the plant's root system and just as deep as its height. Place the Tamukeyama tree in the hole, backfill and tamp down soil as you work to ensure that there are no pockets of air. Next, water then mulches the area to preserve soil moisture. The amount of water you supply to your trees will depend on the time of year it is and what type of plant species it is. Keep in mind that plants also need a certain amount of sunlight, so try placing them in the right location for this as well. Japanese maple trees do not require an excess of nutrients, but a balanced fertilizer should be mixed and applied once yearly in early spring. After 2 to 3 years, your Japanese Maple should be firmly established and can be pruned.

Shumard Oak Tree

Give your loved ones a gift they will treasure for years to come with an evergreen tree from our Shumard Oak collection. These trees are reliable and strong and grow to be experienced in just about any condition. The Shumard Oak is one of the most resilient trees you can plant in your yard. This tree can withstand floods, droughts, and strong winds. The wood of this tree is so loved due to its strength that it can be found in American homes across the country — furniture, floors, carpentry and more. The Shumard Oak is native to Kansas, but nearly everywhere it will grow successfully in zones 5-9. The tree does well in a variety of soil and weather conditions so it’s perfect for people who want just one kind of tree that thrives wherever they put it. If you have a picky tree that needs to be planted somewhere frustrating, the Shumard oak likely won't mind your climate and soil conditions!

Planting & Care

Find a spot for your Red Oak that has plenty of room and at least six hours of sunlight each day. After digging a hole for the tree, slowly and carefully plant the roots. Be sure to tamp down the soil as tightly as possible after planting because it will loosen over time. It is important to keep newly planted trees watered well until they have established new roots, so water the entire base of the tree daily with a hose or pond sprinkler for at least 3-5 days afterward. Once this process is complete there should be able to replace thatch without needing any extra watering on your part. Eventually, you can layer mulch around the base of your tree to provide some extra protection from pests or weather extremes if desired. It is critical to water your tree regularly, preferably 2-3 times a week. Water deeply and infrequently so that the root system can establish itself properly. Once your trees get older, it becomes less essential to provide as much water for them because they have become more drought-tolerant--only watering in the dry season when rainfall is not sufficient will be necessary. If your tree is not growing 2 feet every year, you should use a general-purpose fertilizer once per year.

The Best Fruit Trees in Pennsylvania

Maxim Strawberry

Strawberries are an easy crop to grow in Pennsylvania. Planting a few strawberries will keep the pests and birds away, giving you plenty of fruit for your family to enjoy. Maxim strawberries are the latest in hybrid “day-neutral” breeds that thrive during any time of year. Fragrant spring blossoms and sweet little white flowers arrive early to fill your garden with summertime fun. Maxim strawberries use the same fruity sweetness as regular-sized berries, only these are four times the size! Maxim strawberries grow anywhere, be it in a pot, garden bed, or even an entire field. Whoever said strawberries are just for summer couldn't be more wrong. These gigantic berries make the perfect specimen for strawberry jam, which can keep for months in a refrigerator. But if you're not much of a jam eater, freeze your leftovers (as well as those from other fresh fruits) and enjoy them all year long. The secret is to cut them up into tiny pieces so they'll thaw faster.

Planting & Care

Planting a strawberry tree is typically not difficult. Plan on planting in an area that gets full sun and well-draining soil. Before you plant, amend with organic matter and create a hole that is deep and wide enough to accommodate the roots comfortably. After the hole has been dug, make sure not to bury the crown when placing your berry bush in it while ensuring another one isn’t planted too close. If you are looking for some extra protection, stuff straw or landscaping fabric around each tree before placing them all into their designated location. If you plant in a container, plant your Maxim Strawberry in sand-filled plastic pot with holes or on top of porous material with an inch clearance from the ground. Allow the plant to sit in direct sunlight for at least 6 hours each day. After planting, you should water your plants gently. In addition to watering thoroughly once planted, continue to water as needed to prevent the plant from drying out. Add a high-nitrogen fertilizer every Spring to promote growth. Remove the buds from the plant’s first growth of leaves in order to encourage fruiting two years later. Once it bears fruit, prune only yellowed, dying leaves after each season. Birds can be an issue for strawberry growers, so they may want to consider using strategies like scarecrows, reflective items such as old CDs, or airy netting to deter the birds. To grow strawberry plants and prevent pests, plant pungent herbs or use the following methods.

Stella Cherry Tree

Stella Cherry Tree is the perfect cherry tree for small space gardening. Born and bred in Pennsylvania, Stella produces fruit in its first year, which you can snack on as they ripen or cook up into delicious pies or preserves. Enjoy all of your own juicy cherries every season with just one tree, self-pollinating so that only a single Stella is required to produce bushels of plump, round sweetness!

Planting & Care

When choosing a spot for your new tree, make sure it gets at least six hours of sunlight per day. Avoid planting trees near areas with soggy soil by choosing an area with well-drained soil that has little to no standing water. When you're ready to plant the tree, dig the hole two feet deep and 3 times as wide as its root ball. Once planted, lower the tree in by allowing each level of roots settle into dirt before filling back in and watering thoroughly full time. Finally, cover the surrounding soil area with mulch and leave all year for best results. If your tree is receiving an inch of rain every 10 days, then no additional watering will be needed. If the season is hot and dry, then you may wish to provide some additional water. The best way to water is by using a dripping garden hose at the base of the tree. This will allow for moisture penetration deep into the soil and prevent surface runoff. Check the soil about 2 inches down to see if it is dry. If this is the case, water your young tree as needed. One year after planting your tree, prune in the winter. Shape the width of branches by cutting the long branches to encourage horizontal growth with space between them. Prune each year as necessary for weak, drooping ends. Fertilize in the spring and mid-summer using nitrogen fertilizer twice annually, applying 2 weeks after planting and 4 weeks after the first application. When applying, be sure it is 6 to 8 inches away from the base of your tree trunk - but not so close that you risk damaging the roots. If you live in a colder climate avoid fertilizing during mid-summer because this can cause new growth which will then freeze before hardening for winter.

When is The Best Time to Plant Trees in Pennsylvania

The best season to plant trees in Pennsylvania is during the fall. We recommend that you plant your trees between September and November for best results, but they can be planted anytime from October through February.

Can You Plant All Season Long?

Planting year-round in Pennsylvania is possible, but there is a caveat. As the seasons change in Pennsylvania from winter to spring and then summer, temperatures rise and fall dramatically which can have an impact on when you plant certain trees or flowers.

What are The Best Trees to Plant Each Season in Pennsylvania


Best trees to plant in spring include dogwood, crabapple, and flowering fruit trees.


Best trees to plant in summer are maple and ash-leaved oak.

Fall time

The best trees to plant in the fall are sugar maple, black walnut or hickory.


If you want a conifer tree such as pine or spruce then it should be planted from late winter through early spring.

What Trees Have The Least Invasive Roots in Pennsylvania

The least invasive trees to plant in Pennsylvania are it sugar maple, white pine, bald cypress, and willow.