Many of our smaller yards do not allow room for larger maturing trees. But there are a number of good tree choices that fit well into smaller areas. It’s wise to consider smaller maturing trees that will not overwhelm the house and property as they mature.
■ Chaste tree is an outstanding small summer flowering tree for accenting sunny areas. It can be grown as a multi-truck shrub or as a small tree. Botanically it is Vitex angus-castus, belonging to the Verbenaceae family, producing violet blue flowers throughout the hot months. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/st664
■ Crape myrtle comes in many sizes and growth forms. Do your homework in selecting the right cultivar to fit the space as there are dwarf cultivars growing less than four feet in height to cultivars that reach greater than twenty feet in height. Flower color choices include white, pink, lavender, purple and red. Crape myrtles perform best in sunny locations, potentially blooming from June until fall. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/MG/MG26600.pdf
■ Fringe tree is also known as Old Man’s Beard or Grancy Graybeard because of its large clusters of airy, long, fringe-like white blooms. Each spring the sight of local flowering specimens brings questions from gardeners who are unfamiliar with this unusual native tree. This is an underused plant and can be difficult to find but thankfully availability seems to be improving. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/st161
■ Japanese maples can become a beautiful specimen tree with proper site selection and watering. We are at the southern end of this tree’s range here along the Gulf Coast. Choose planting sites that receive some shade from afternoon sun and irrigate to prevent sharp fluctuations in moisture. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/st023
■ Deciduous flowering magnolias, also known as saucer and Japanese magnolias, are among the first plants to bloom each year. The large tulip-shaped flowers begin providing color and accent in February. Depending upon the species or cultivar, common color choices include white, pink and purple. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/st386
There are other well adapted small growing trees that can be effectively used in both large and small landscapes. Some include redbud, dogwood, hawthorn, loquat, silver bell, crabapple, wax myrtle, Jerusalem thorn, Chickasaw plum, flatwoods plum and sweet viburnum.
For additional information on trees for your landscape, contact the UF/IFAS Extension Office in your County. Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent, Okaloosa County