Large Evergreen Trees
Pinus strobus, Eastern white pine at The Morton Arboretum
- Generally grow 20 feet or taller
- Cone-bearing with needle-like or scale-like leaves
- Although many people call conifers "evergreen," not all conifers retain their foliage year-round, bald cypress and larch are two wonderful conifers that drop their needles in fall
- Recommended for the Midwest on the basis of ornamental value, proven hardiness, availability, and freedom from serious problems
Uses in the Landscape
- Frame or form a backdrop for homes and other buildings
- Screen an unsightly object or view all year long
- Create a wind break
- Offer privacy
- Plant on north and northwest of house to block winter winds
- Shelter for birds and wildlife
- Serve as a focal point
- Provide seasonal color in winter landscapes
Factors to Consider Color
Although we think of evergreens as green, they actually may be several other colors, including silver-blue, blue-green, and yellow-green Many go through seasonal changes and provide interest in winter. Be sure to think about how the foliage color will work with buildings and other plantings in the area.
Spruces are dense and compact in form providing a bold background in a large landscape Pines tend to have an open, airy texture. Some evergreens have ornamental bark or branching habits that are attractive in all seasons Keep in mind the effect you intend when making your plant selection.
If your site is limited by overhangs, proximity to walks, driveways, patios and buildings, or by surrounding plantings, keep in mind the ultimate height and width of the plant you're selecting. The four-foot tall pine may be a nice accent in front of your house today, but if it grows to 50 feet, it will require pruning that may damage the tree's form or habit.
The chart below provides information about the size and other important characteristics of tall conifers recommended by The Morton Arboretum for their suitability and desirability in the Midwest. evergreen foliage
Recommended Large Evergreen Trees (over 20 feet tall)
Key to Growth Rate: Height and spread are listed at the tree's maturity How fast a tree grows will be influenced by site conditions, species selection, and maintenance. By some ratings, any evergreen that at maturity is not as tall as its parent species is considered a dwarf, such as a plant that grows only 40 feet tall compared to a parent species that reaches 80 feet. To clear up the confusion, the American Conifer Society has attempted to standardize the terminology and rate of growth as follows:
Large conifer -grows 12 Inches or more per year (size at age 10 to 15 years is greater than 15 feet)
Intermediate conifer -grows 6-12 inches per year (size at age 10 to 15 years is 6 to 15 feet)
Dwarf conifer -grows 3 to 6 Inches per year (size at age 10 to 15 years is 3 to 6 feet)
Miniature conifer -grows less than 3 inches per year (size at age 10 to 15 years is 2 to 3 feet)
- White fir 50%
Botanical Name: Abies concolor Common Name: White Fir Reviewed 1/2012 Click on an image to enlarge. Form Needles Bark Height: 30-50' Spread: 20-30' Habit/Form: Pyramidal Growth Rate: Slow to...