Plant Category: Tree

Crape Myrtle

Genus: Lagerstroemia

This showy summer blooming tree can be grown with a single trunk or multiple branching limbs. With pruning crape myrtles can retain a compact form and dwarf varieties can be used as shrubs. Newly transplanted trees require weekly watering but mature trees tolerate heat and drought conditions well. White blossoms can appear spent more quickly than pink and lavender varieties.

Dwarf Atlas Blue Cedar

Genus: Cedrus

These blue green coniferous evergreen trees can grow in interesting forms that make them ideal as garden focal points. In small gardens, these trees are best when trained to bonsai-like forms. They can be purchased already trained into serpentine shapes. The trees can also have a distinctive weeping effect. Dwarf varieties can be pruned and trained to do well in small garden areas and borders. Without this maintenance they can become quite large. Full size varieties can be huge.


Genus: Jacaranda Mimosifolia

This slow growing tree rewards with a seemingly impossible number of long lasting lavender blooms in late spring with a second less prolific bloom in some regions in the fall. The fern-like leaves are also striking. One downside is the need to keep up with potentially messy leaf and bloom drop. Plant the Jacaranda where space for lateral and vertical growth. Jacaranda trees are susceptible to severe frost. Care needs to be taken to avoid excessive or improper pruning. It takes a number of years for the sapling to grow beyond a growth habit.


Genus: Arctostaphylos

As an evergreen California native plant with strong visual interest, it is unfortunate that Manzanitas are not used more frequently in our gardenscapes. Manzanitas can be grown either as a shrubs or small trees. The twisting growth habit and distinctive red color of the limbs makes Manzanita excellent focal points. The plants attract butterflies and birds (including hummingbirds). Manzanita look great in rock gardens and do very well with little water once established. California gardeners will want to consider a variety that does well with local soil conditions.


Genus: Olea Europae

This drought tolerant tree develops interesting twisting forms with age. Olive trees also lend themselves to training in as espalier and they can be grown in pots. They are suitable for situations where it is desirable to avoid excessive height. Olive trees are evergreen and take many years to mature. With effort, olive fruit can be harvested and cured.


Genus: Punica Granatum

This tree is semi-evergreen with compact leaves and long-lasting blooms from which the fruit emerges in the spring. Pomegranate trees stay relatively small and dwarf varieties are available. These perform very effectively as shrubs. Pomegranates respond well to pruning to attain a controlled form. Pomegranate juice has become popular and the fruit is increasingly found in markets. Home cooks who have pomegranate trees enjoy the fruit as a garnish in cooking and for the decorative addition they make to floral arrangements and centerpieces.


Genus: Cercis Occidentalis

This small deciduous trees or large shrub is noted for its profusion of attractive pink spring flowers. Leafing takes place after flowering. The stems for new growth are deep red and branching takes on appealing forms. The California redbud is characterized by magenta seed pods in the summer and fall color. Redbuds are drought tolerant but can also do well near stream beds.

Strawberry Tree

Genus: Arbutus Unedo

This small tree can be grown as a shrub or a multi-trunked tree. The Strawberry Tree which is sometimes called a cane apple, features small flowers and orange-red fruit. The tree retains a nice compact form with minimal pruning. These trees do well with only occasional watering once established. They do prefer a well draining soil. The tree is evergreen and has interesting bark which takes on a peeling effect. Strawberry trees attract birds.

Tea Tree

Genus: Leptospermum

Tea trees are are most often seen as bushes or hedges. Attractive small tree forms are developed with attentive pruning to remove the lowest branches. Pruning is also needed if a symmetrical form is desired. The tea tree trunk develops a fibrous appearance. Abundant small magenta or white flowers appear in the spring lasting through the summer. Water needs are low for established plants.


Genus: Yucca

There are many varieties of yucca. Some reach are tree height while others perform as shrubs. Most yuccas are native to the Americas and some are varieties are native to California. Yuccas can serve as a dramatic garden focal point. They require little water and care. The sword shaped leaves are often silvery gray. Some varieties have variegated leaves. Yuccas look great in gardens with a spanish feel and alongside succulents in rock gardens. Most yuccas feature white spring blooms.