Want To Plant a Small Tree in the Spring?

Redbud Tree (Photo courtesy Trees of Virginia)

By Eleanor Quigley

Alexandria, VA – Alexandria’s tree canopy is an integral part of our ecosystem. We need more of it! Trees are one of the best investments to make when planning landscape improvements. Native trees sustain and support the environment, are suited to our climate and soils, and require little maintenance aside from good pruning decisions once established. Choosing native trees adds to biodiversity, supports local wildlife, and enhances ecosystem health. Here are a few possibilities:

To attract birds and pollinating insects like butterflies, consider the Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis), a small tree. Its delicate white flowers bloom in spring, followed by edible berries. Serviceberry’s vibrant fall foliage adds color, making it a pleasing choice.

Another option is Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) known for its stunning spring blossoms and distinctive red berries in fall. Beyond its visual appeal, dogwood provides habitat for various insect species. We recommend choosing the white dogwood, which seems hardier than the pink.

Eastern Redbud (Cersis canadensis) is an ideal choice to support pollinators. It boasts pink to purple flowers that emerge before the heart-shaped leaves, attracting and feeding bees, butterflies, and moths. This tree adapts well to different soil conditions in various locations.

American Hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) has fruits and finely serrated leaves, providing visual interest through the seasons. Hornbeam can live 150 years, hosts many insects, and songbirds sing in it.

Please avoid the invasive Bradford Pear, which is inexpensive in the short run and, sadly, the choice of some developers. Native trees, providing food and shelter for wildlife and adding beauty to our surroundings, are a responsible and long-term investment.

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