Best Trees for the Bryan-College Station Area

by Elmer Krehbiel, Master Gardener
January 23, 2004

Trees usually become a permanent fixture in the landscape. Each tree in the landscape should be there for a special purpose. The tree should be selected based on the traits that are preferred by the family.

A tree may be selected to provide shade, color, texture, etc. There should be available space for the limbs of the tree when mature and the soil area should be larger than that for it to develop a normal root system. Many trees are planted when the gardeners get spring fever, and some are contracted for planting at less desirable times for the trees.

October 15 to December 15 is the best window of time of the year to plant trees that are balled or in containers, and the second best time is when the soil is still cool, but the worst time is when the soil is hot. Mid-winter is the best time to plant bare-root trees or transplant them to another location.

During the winter months, the trees can develop additional roots that will provide extra support for the next summer.

This easiest group of trees to grow in this area can tolerate some of the dry-hot-summer weather, and are resistant to any serious disease or insect problems. The expected mature height/width in feet and special features are presented and should be considered for selecting a tree for the landscape.

  • Aristocrat pear: 30-40 and 20-25/flowers white, foliage glossy green and orange-maroon in fall
  • Baldcypress: 60-70 and 30-45/wildlife, foliage copper-bronze in fall
  • Chinese pistache: 40-50 and 30-40/foliage orange-red in fall, the most colorful for the South, Texas SuperStar
  • Chinkapin oak: 40-50 and 30-40/foliage yellow-crimson in fall
  • Deoder cedar: 40-50 and 25-35/wildlife, evergreen
  • Japanese black pine: 20-30 and 20-25/wildlife, evergreen
  • Japanese persimmon: 10-40 and 15-25/edible fruit orange-red, foliage orange-red in fall
  • Lacebark elm: 40-60 and 30-50/foliage pale yellow in fall.
  • Live oak: 30-40 and 40-50/wildlife, evergreen
  • Osage orange: 40-50 and 30-40/foliage glossy green and bright yellow in fall, thornless
  • Shantung maple: 25 and 20/red-orange in fall, Texas SuperStar
  • Shumard oak: 50-60 and 40-60/wildlife, foliage orange-red in fall, not in heavy clay soil
  • Texas red oak: 50-60 and 40-60/wildlife, foliage orange-red in fall, not in heavy clay soil
  • This next group of trees can tolerate some of the dry-hot-summer weather, but gardeners can expect them to have some serious disease, insect, and other problems.
  • Bradford pear: 30-40 and 20-25/white flowers, glossy-green foliage then orange to maroon in fall; expect limbs to break from large trees
  • Bur oak: 50-60 and 40-60/very large leaves and acorns, wildlife; expect aphids and spider mites
  • Canaert redcedar: 40-50 and 25-35/blue fruit, wildlife; expect cedar-apple rust, bagworms, spider mites and juniper blight
  • Crabapple: 20-25 and 20-30/white-pink-red flowers, orange-red-yellow fruit, wildlife; expect apple scab, cedar-apple rust, cotton-root rot, fireblight, and powdery mildew
  • Cedar elm: 50-60 and 30-40/glossy-green foliage, wildlife.
  • Desert willow: 15-25 and 10-15/lavender flowers, wildlife; expect root rot
  • Golden raintree: 30-40 and 20-30/yellow flowers, brown-red-yellow fruit, wildlife, yellow foliage in fall; expect box elder bugs to be a nuisance
  • Honeylocust: 40-50 and 30-40/edible sweet seeds, wildlife, yellow foliage in fall; expect borers, cotton-root rot, limb dieback, spider mites, mimosa webworm, seedpods are trashy
  • Honey mesquite: 35-40 and 30-35/yellow-fragrant flowers, edible-brown fruit, wildlife, expect borers and other insects
  • Mexican plum: 20-25 and 20-25/white flowers, edible-purple-red fruit, wildlife; expect insects
  • Pecan: 60-70 and 50-60/edible fruit, wildlife, dull-yellow foliage in fall; expect aphids, casebearer, tent caterpillars, phylloxera gall, twig girdler, scab, weevils, shuck worms; Mohawk for landscape
  • Redbud: 25-35 and 20-30/white-pink-red-burgundy-wine flowers, yellow foliage in fall; expect borers, stem canker, leaf miners, leaf rollers, leaf spot
Another group of trees for this area that require considerably more water, but gardeners should not expect any serious disease or insect problems with them:
  • American holly, American yellowood, Black willow, Caddo maple, Camphor, China fir, Chittimwood, Cluster pine, Coloseum maple, Dawn redwood, European hornbeam, False cypress, Hardy rubber tree, Jujube, Kentucky coffee tree, Luster leaf holly, Northern red oak, Paper mulberry, Round holly, Saucer magnolia, Sawtooth red oak, Silver maple, Southern magnolia, Southern red oak, Spruce pine, White oak

Dr. Elmer Krehbiel is the former President of Keep Brazos Beautiful. See his column in The Eagle.