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South Carolina Guide to Growing Trees

Growing a tree is not an easy task. It takes time, patience, and the right resources. Our guide to growing trees will provide you with all of the information that you need in order to be successful! 

South Carolina Trees

The Best Flowering Trees to Grow in South Carolina

Southern Magnolia

The Southern Magnolia, though it is called such despite the prevalence in the north and not just the south region of America, is an adaptable tree that can be grown either for its ornamental blooms or its privacy capabilities. Regardless of how you use it, the Southern Magnolia is an impressively hardy tree. It boasts deep green leaves year-round, as well as strong steady growth and a long life span. The Southern Magnolia produces cones of small red seeds in winter to provide birds with shelter during that time of year when many other trees have gone dormant. One of the most iconic aspects of this Southern tree is its magnificent, enormous, distinctive white flowers that cover it for many months, from May to October or November. Their sweet fragrance is unforgettable. Plus, Southern Magnolia trees enjoy growing in cold weather and are tolerant of drought conditions. Additionally, the Southern Magnolia can grow in any type of soil and withstand some flooding conditions.

Planting & Care

Ensure your garden has a 6-8 hour exposure to sunlight per day and is away from cement sidewalks or driveways. The Southern Magnolia prefers well-drained soil, but it will adapt to various types as long as they are well-drained. Dig a hole that’s 2-3 times the width and just as deep as the root ball. Once you have positioned the tree in the ground, make sure it stays straight by holding it down firmly while backfilling with soil. After filling about half of the hole, tamp down on your newly laid dirt and water thoroughly before adding more dolomitic lime around any exposed roots. Plant your southern magnolia in a pot with moist soil, check the water level regularly, and water it about once or twice weekly during its first year. After that, rainfall should be enough for the tree and you should only have to water it during extended droughts. If new growth on your tree is noticeably slow, you can apply a controlled-release fertilizer formula. Follow the application instructions and fertilize in early spring. Prune your magnolia by removing any dead leaves, branches, and flowers before spring. When pruning, remove the branch as far down as its base. Prune the lower branches as it continues to grow.

Catawba Crape Myrtle Tree

The brilliant purple blossoms on a Catawba Crape Myrtle tree make this cultivar a fresh favorite. The flowers are dark purple and form clusters that sit upright on the branches all year long, which cover no less than 3 months of each season. Because of the tree’s density, branches may even bend from their weight. This gives the tree a gorgeous cascading appearance as it has an intense purple coloring contrasted by emerald green leaves. Catawba is great for a number of reasons. Not only do the vivid, red, and white blooms bring colors to your yard all season long, but fall provides even more color thanks to their vibrant display of bronze, orange, and yellow leaves from late summer through early autumn. Best of all, the Catawba Crape Myrtle is versatile and easy to grow, making it a great choice for your landscape. It can be trimmed or trained into many designs to fit each garden's unique needs.

Planting & Care

Crape Myrtles need a lot of suns, so try to find an area where they will get plenty. Other than that, Crape Myrtles prefer well-drained soil. Consider planting your tree in a location where it will grow, such as the side or front of your house. Dig the hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball, making sure to untangle any roots before planting. Place your tree on top of fertilized soil and make sure its root crown is even with the surface. As you are completing this step, mulch around the base of your tree to conserve water and deter future weeds that may compete for resources nearby. Myrtles are surprisingly drought-tolerant, but they may require a bit more watering during the hot summer months. Simply check your surrounding soil about 3 inches down to see if it needs water. In addition to light fertilization in early spring and summer, the following tips will help your Catawba Crape maintain its lush appeal. Trim all but 4 to 5 strong trunks, and remove limbs lower than halfway up the trunk as needed.

The Best Shade Trees in South Carolina

Southern Red Oak Tree

One of the best options for a steady, reliable tree is the Southern Red Oak. Especially durable and quick to grow, this red oak offers a great shade that will be around for decades without any worries. One thing to remember when considering a tree species is that many of them can survive in different climates and still be healthy. Even though the Southern Red Oak typically thrives in humid environments, it actually does well in zones 6-10 as well. This doesn't mean you won't find this tree growing naturally outside those areas (near New York to Florida), but owners may need to pay more attention to how much water their trees are getting since they might grow slower if not taken care of properly.

Planting & Care

Choose a spot in your yard where there's at least six hours of direct sunlight and ample room for growth. When planting a tree, make sure the hole is at least 8 in deep. After removing any high weeds, tamp down the dirt around the roots and pour water until it seeps into the ground. To keep your young tree healthy, water deeply at least once per week during the dry season. In humid climates like South Carolina, you'll only need to water a mature tree deep enough in the dry seasons to maintain its roots. For the best growth and longevity, Southern Red Oaks should receive fertilizer every year - otherwise, they probably won't need it.

Chinese Pistache Tree

The Chinese Pistache is quickly becoming the go-to tree for those who want a beautiful fall leaf show outside their home. This landscaping technique will put your neighborhood's trees to shame by adding stunning color and beautiful round canopies that provide generous shade. How does it compare to other trees? The Chinese Pistache is a fantastic option during the colorless days of winter and early spring, with its foliage displaying brilliant colors in mid-winter while other trees are dormant. The blazing shades of reds, oranges, and yellows are not among the typical hues displayed by other vegetation during this time of year. In the spring and summer, their leaves are green which will create a shaded area in your yard to relax under. This tree is desirable to landscapers because of its high level of pollution tolerance and heat coefficient, which gives it a chance to be planted in big cities while still growing. It’s also drought-tolerant and is able to grow on different types of soil types, including rocky or sandy ones.

Planting & Care

Pistachios are best suited for planting in full sunlight and well-draining soil. For the best results, make your hole 4 to 5 times as wide as the root ball. Backfill with dirt and tamp it down to eliminate any air pockets that might exist in the soil. Water thoroughly and apply 2-3 inches of mulch around the base of your tree for maximum yield. Water your Pistache plants twice per week during the first month to ensure that they are growing strong. Best way to ensure constant watering is to place a trickle of water next to the base of the tree using a garden hose. For trees that are more than five years old, fertilizer should be introduced during the spring and fall seasons. Nitrogen-based organic fertilizers should be mixed with superphosphate if the tree has not grown at least 2 to 3 feet annually. Be sure to follow the application instructions on the packaging before applying any fertilizer of any kind. Pruning the top of a tree at six feet tall will force more branches to develop. As new branches arise, select one to be the trunk and another as a branch, and remove the rest. Leave trunks to grow an additional three feet before pruning them off again, which will encourage more branching. Repeat until you have an even look with many evenly spaced branches on both sides of your original cut.

The Best Fruit Trees in South Carolina

Eversweet Pomegranate Tree

Having a healthy, sweet fruit tree of your own is easy with the Eversweet Pomegranate Tree. Plus, this plant produces seedless pomegranates even years after it has been planted! Eversweet Pomegranate is easy to grow because the trees are bred in California for their landscape. They have a semi-vigorous growth that usually occurs within an 8-10 ft (sometimes 12 ft) arching silhouette, meaning they can either be grown as shrubs or secondary tree trunks. It's ideal for both beginner and master gardeners due to it adapting well to coastal and inland areas alike.

Planting & Care

First, note that the Eversweet Pom Tree needs six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Next, find an area with good drainage and rich soil for planting your tree. To plant your Eversweet, dig a hole deep enough to cover its root ball. After placing your plant (and loosening its roots so that it grows well), tamp down the soil several times while backfilling, and then water to complete the planting process. Once every week, water the tree Eversweet Pom. If you're not sure when to water, provide small amounts of moisture more frequently (approximately two or three times weekly). Eversweet trees require an application of 2 ounces of nitrogen-based formula in the first year. In the following years, increase to 3 ounces and then 5 to 6. When Eversweet is about 25 feet high, apply 8 ounces every winter before leaves emerge (usually late November - early December). Eversweet trees should be pruned before their first growth in the spring, but only after they've had their first season to grow. The Eversweet Poms are ready to be harvested when they turn deep red in color, generally from late summer through early fall.

Fuzzy Kiwi

Fuzzy Kiwis are celebrated for their fresh tropical flavors. Once you pick your homegrown fuzzies and peel the brown skin to reveal a bright green kiwifruit, you'll discover they're easy and tasty to peel! Small black seeds provide a delectable crunch that satisfies people's taste buds, leaving them wanting more and more. By eating kiwis, you can improve your health and provide a healthy snack all at the same time. One Fuzzy Kiwi has ten times as much vitamin C as a lemon and is packed with antioxidants. If you’ve been interested in growing kiwi plants, but are discouraged by the more difficult varieties of this fruit, then you should consider planting fuzzy kiwi vine. These vines grow quickly and provide large harvests, making them ideal for those who just want to plant a few fruit trees. If you are from a region above the 7th zone, bring your kiwi vines inside as soon as the cold weather begins. Place it by a sunny window and they will thrive. With Fuzzy Kiwi, you can grow your own kiwis without the hassle of pollinating!

Planting & Care

Kiwis are a tiny bit picky about where they live. They like well-draining soil, plenty of morning sun and afternoon shade. To produce fruit, one male is needed for every 5-20 female plants depending on the variety. Males will occasionally flower without producing any kiwis but will also produce pollen necessary for fruiting females to create their baby kiwis. Place them in a sunny area of well-draining soil. One male tree can pollinate 8 females, but one female is needed for each male. To plant your kiwi, dig a hole three times as wide and just as deep as the root ball. Carefully separate the roots of your kiwi by combing them gently with your hands. Place downward in the hole, backfill around it carefully tamping down on the soil to avoid air pockets from forming. Mulching will help conserve soil moisture and inhibit weed growth. To ensure that kiwi plants thrive, they need to be watered deeply and regularly the first year that they are planted. This is especially important during periods of drought when a lack of water will cause browning and dropping of leaves to occur. Place mulch around your trees to keep them moist. The best type is straw or manure. Kiwi plants, like most trees in South Carolina, thrive off of a heavy nitrogen diet and should ideally be fertilized in early March or the summer. In later years, as long as it does not push kiwi fruit to ripen quickly you can fertilize. You should prune your female fuzzy kiwi tree annually to increase fruit production. Pruning should mainly be done to encourage growth, shape the plant and allow air and sunlight penetration. The best time to prune the male Kiwis is in the winter months, since male plants produce more shoots during this time. To help your trees grow, it is necessary to leave some space for the branches to spread. We advise tying buds near the top of the tree or plant with planter’s tape. Stay away from cutting off any lateral shoots as these will make room for swelling in the trunk of a tree over time. Once the plant blooms, cut off the flowering shoots. This should be done at a length between 40-60 cm depending on the size of the plant. The green growth should remain when pruning these shoots. One of the most wonderful things about growing kiwi plants is that they are virtually free from pest and fungal issues. This means your plant will, unfortunately, start to give off the scent of catnip for cats nearby. Place some fencing or netting around the base of each shoot and monitor them carefully until they no longer smell like “catnip” to keep deer away from eating their leaves and fruit. If you have multiple plants growing in the same area, scale and garden snails will be a worm problem. You can use insecticidal soap or Neem Oil to treat any insects attacking your plants.

When is The Best Time to Plant Trees in South Carolina

It can depend on whether or not it was planted as a bare-root tree; if it is being grown from seedlings, containerized nursery stock, balled and burlapped stock; or if it's an already established landscape tree that needs moving. When deciding when to plant your new tree, consider these factors: current weather conditions (winter planting), prevailing winds (to avoid wind scour), and desired size at maturity (a smaller tree may be planted closer to the house).

Can You Plant All Season Long?

The answer is yes! The growing season in South Carolina varies by location and can last from November to May, but it's possible that you will be able to start planting trees as early as October. You should plan on planting a tree every week until the middle of March, which is when our summer temperatures typically really heat up (and we experience dry spells). Once your land has dried out again at the end of July or August you'll want to stop watering so heavily- this ensures that these new plants have enough time before winter sets in.

What are The Best Trees to Plant Each Season in South Carolina


The best trees to plant in spring are the ones that will bloom and grow quickly enough so as not to impede your ability to enjoy them. The magnolia, for example, is a beautiful tree with large white flowers that can be enjoyed only briefly before they wilt and die back again. We recommend planting Magnolias (because of their fragrant blooms), Dogwoods (they produce showy clusters of pinkish or whitish flowers), and Maples (for their delicate branches covered by peeling bark).


In summer you need something strong enough to withstand heat but also provide shade from sun exposure. The Southern Live Oak makes an excellent choice because it has high drought tolerance and is an excellent shade tree while also providing food in the form of acorns.

Fall time

In fall you need trees that will not only survive but thrive during the winter months. The best choice for this category are Turkish Hazelnuts or Chinquapins because they are evergreen shrubs and have a high cold tolerance rating which means they can handle both freezing temps and snowfall well.


For those living in South Carolina, it's important to plant trees that can withstand our winter weather conditions. Some of the best choices for this category are Tupelo Trees, Palms (for their resilience to winter weather conditions), and Pyracantha because they all have a high cold tolerance rating which means they can handle both freezing temps and snowfall well.

What Trees Have The Least Invasive Roots in South Carolina

The least invasive trees in South Carolina are those that have shallow roots, like the ash. Ash trees are a type of fast-growing broadleaf tree native to eastern North America and are not invasive at all.