In addition to winter interest and year-round color, conifers can serve as a privacy screen, providing habitat for wildlife and providing protection from strong winds. Recognized for the cones they produce and their needle-like leaves, many conifers prefer the cultural conditions of boreal regions with high elevations and cold winters. The heavy soil, heat, and drought of the south-central region are unwelcome by evergreens — most of the time.
Conifers in Southern Regions
Some conifers thrive in the southern regions. This includes Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. Additional maintenance is required to overcome environmental stress (such as watering conifers during drought or hot weather). Applying a thin layer of mulch will prevent rapid loss of moisture and help control the volatile temperatures in southern regions.
By regularly checking for signs of disease, stress, or pests, many problems can be mitigated before they become serious. A local extension agent can help diagnose disease or pest damage. A variety of evergreens is available to gardeners in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas in a variety of heights, foliage colors, and landscape styles.
Choose conifers for southern landscaping
For residential landscaping, it is important to know the potential size of pine trees before purchasing as many are too large to be placed near a building or as a street tree. If you have your heart set on a particular large conifer, check out the dwarf varieties of this type.
The following are needle evergreens suggested for Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. Because of the wide variation in environment and climate within each state, these options may perform better in one part of the state than another. Contact your local extension office or nursery professional for more information.
In Oklahoma, consider these conifers for landscaping interest:
Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) can reach heights of 90 to 100 feet (27–30 m). The original tree needs moist soil with a pH of 4.0 to 7.0. It can withstand temperatures as low as -8°F (-22°C). The loblolly pine grows nicely in Texas and Arkansas as well.
The ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) grows from 150 to 223 feet (45-68 meters) tall. favours the majority of soils with a pH of 5.0 to 9.0. Ponderosa pine tolerates temperatures down to -36 degrees Fahrenheit (-38 degrees Celsius).
Bosnian pine (Pinus holdreichii) typically reaches 25 to 30 feet (7-9 m) in the landscape, but in its native environment, it can exceed 70 feet (21 m) tall. It can tolerate higher soil pH and drought once established. Bosnian pine is recommended for smaller sites and is hardy down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 degrees Celsius).
Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) is a deciduous conifer native to Oklahoma that can reach 70 feet (21 m) in height. It can tolerate wet or dry soil. Hardy to -30 °F (-34 °C), bald cypress is also recommended for Texas.
Conifers that do well in Texas include:
Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii) is a small tree that graces the landscape to a height of 30 feet (9 m). It forms a great coastal tree and prefers acidic, well-drained soil. Black pine is very hardy down to -20°F (-29°C).
The Italian stone pine (Pinus pinea) has an open crown without a leader, unlike the conical shape typical of evergreens. The size is an average of 50 feet (15 m) in length. Cedar is hardy down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 degrees Celsius).
Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginia) is excellent for screening or as a windbreak. Size can reach 50 feet (15 m). It produces delicious berries from the wild. Eastern red cedar is hardy down to -50°F (-46°C).
Arizona cactus (Cupressus arizonica) is a fast grower that reaches 20 to 30 feet (6-9 m) tall and is an excellent choice for a hedge. It is highly drought tolerant but does not like wet soil. Temperature hardening down to 0°F (-18°C). It is also a recommended tree for Arkansas.
The central Texas ash juniper (Juniperus ash) is an evergreen American native whose trunk is often twisted or branched at the base, giving the illusion of a multi-stemmed tree. Juniper ash can reach 30 feet (9 m) in height. It is hard down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 degrees Celsius).
Conifers that do well in Arkansas include:
Weeping conifers such as Cascade Falls bald cypress and weeping blue Atlas cedar can be planted statewide, while weeping white pines and Norway spruces are better suited to the Ozark and Ouachita regions. They need well-drained, well-drained soil in a sunny location. Pruning is important for creating a plantation.
The Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata) does best in a shady location in northwest Arkansas. It grows up to 25 feet (8 m) tall and is hardy down to -30°F (-34°C).
Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is a medium-sized conifer that can reach 50 feet (15 m) tall. Canadian hemlock grows in partial to full shade in the northwest region of the state and reaches down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees Celsius).
The Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) of eastern origin resembles redcedar. Fast-growing conifers work well as a hedge and tolerate boggy soil. Atlantic white cedar grows 30 to 50 feet (9-15 m) tall, and is hardy down to -30°F (-34°C).