Whilst the cold is generally not great for plant life, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of species of trees that haven’t learned to cope with the biting cold. Far from it, in fact. There are many varieties of deciduous and coniferous trees that thrive in the colder climates of the world.
Here is our list of some of the most iconic, and in some cases, surprising snow trees!
To start our list, we have the ever-reliable cedar tree.
Cedar trees are popular landscaping choices for anyone living in areas where winters are harsh. They are known for their ability to withstand cold weather conditions — and they can grow in those conditions too!
Cedars are among the most tolerant trees in cold climates. Some cedars can survive temperatures down to -40°F (-40°C). That’s much colder than many people realize — especially since our average winter temperature here in Illinois is about 10°F (-12°C)!
Cedarwood shrinks and swells with the seasons. This means that it’s important to water cedars during dry periods and avoid over-watering.
Trees may appear dead after winter storms. Don’t assume that a tree died simply because it appears lifeless. Check out the trunk first. The bark should be smooth and free of any splits or cracks. Shrubs should also be checked for signs of life.
2. Dwarf Juniper
Cold climates can be a challenge for plants. They don’t do well when there’s too much rain or snow, and they struggle to grow in regions where temperatures drop below freezing.
But one type of tree, the dwarf juniper, thrives in these conditions.
It’s called a dwarf juniper because its branches are small compared to those of other junipers. But this isn’t just any juniper. The dwarf juniper is a species native to Europe, Russia, and Asia.
This plant does better than most other types of juniper in colder areas. This makes it perfect for landscaping in harsh winter weather. Dwarf juniper trees are used in landscapes across Canada, Scandinavia, Japan, and Siberia. These trees are even used to make hedges and fences!
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3. Weeping Willow
The weeping willow is an iconic tree. Its distinct branches and leaves are an absolute feast for the eyes. It often surprises people that, despite its somewhat thin and fragile-looking foliage, it is also a hardy tree that can handle frost and snow!
Many people enjoy watching these trees overhanging ponds, streams, and lakes. But what happens if the water freezes?
A weeping willow can withstand several freeze events without succumbing to frost heaving. Many owners choose to remove their trees from ponds and lakes once they’ve suffered enough damage.
When grown near a pond or lake, it has all the nutrients and moisture it needs to dig its roots deep and survive winter snaps that would kill other plants.
However, if you are in a place that regularly receives cold snaps, the weeping willow may not be ideal for your garden or field.
It’s not uncommon for weeping willows to die after suffering from a single freeze event. However, the tree may recover from subsequent thawing and refreeze, so don’t let that put you off if these are rare in your area but still have relatively cold climates.
4. Dwarf Palmetto
Palm trees aren’t exactly high on the list of plant families that are known for living in cold climates. But there are a few exceptions to this general rule. One of the more famous ones is the Dwarf Palmetto.
This species has many of the classic palm features that make them coveted in every garden. Spiky green leaves, wispy trunks, everything. But they are pretty cold tolerant too.
In colder climates, dwarf palmettos may be grown successfully. Dwarf palms are usually planted in containers. They do not require much care once established and can survive temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees!
The main issue you may run into when growing these trees is that dwarf palms are very slow-growing plants. It takes approximately ten years before they reach maturity. However, they can continue to grow for several decades.
5. Sago Palm
Another palm that can tussle with the colder trees is the Sago Palm.
Sago palm trees are native to tropical climates, but they do well in colder areas too.
They have thick leaves that are tough and durable. They grow quickly and don’t require much maintenance. If you’re interested in growing sago palms in cold climates, read up on the information below.
Sago palms take about three years to mature, but they can be grown indoors or out. As with any indoor houseplant, they must be kept in a cool environment.
Make sure to water your sago palm frequently and fertilize it using organic fertilizer every two weeks. These steps will ensure that your plants remain healthy and attractive throughout the entire season.
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Wintergreen trees are evergreens that grow in cold regions. They thrive in areas with short growing seasons, such as the upper Midwest.
They are often called spruce trees, but there are actually several varieties. The most common type grows up to 60 feet tall and has white flowers. Other types include red spruces, blue spruces, and mountain laurels. All are part of the Pinaceae family.
These trees are native to North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. However, they aren’t found in tropical and subtropical climates.
There are plenty of varieties of Ash trees that can be found across the globe, from broad-leaved variants to trees with narrow, teardrop shapes.
Ash trees are native to Europe, Asia, North Africa, and parts of North America. They were introduced into Australia and New Zealand when they came with English settlers. Ash trees prefer slightly acidic soil, and they thrive in full sunlight.
Most varieties of these types of plants grow far outside the tropics, so they have adapted over millions of years. Several species of ash trees grow well in areas with low annual temperature fluctuations.
In northern climates, ash trees can survive temperatures down to -40°F (-40°C). They do better in colder conditions than most deciduous trees.
Holly in winter wonderlands is practically a staple of the festive season, along with pine Christmas trees.
These trees can thrive in areas where temperatures drop below freezing for several weeks out of every winter.
These trees can survive in climates with low humidity and dry winds. Holly trees do well in soil that is rich in organic matter. The soil should be deep and moist.
Holly trees require full sun exposure. These trees can tolerate partial shade, but they will suffer more damage. Holly trees prefer acidic soil. This type of soil is found in mountainous regions where rainfall occurs primarily during the spring and fall.
Most fruit-bearing trees tend not to do well when the colder months hit. There’s a reason that many plums, pear, and citrus trees are grown in colder areas where snow is likely to hit them.
However, apple trees, despite what their delicate fruits might suggest, can tackle the cold snaps of winter a lot better than most other fruit trees.
However, being trees that are mainly grown for their fruit, they aren’t immune to the effects of the cold.
Apples aren’t designed to grow in cool climates. They require warm temperatures to thrive.
But there’s hope! Cold weather doesn’t mean that apples won’t survive. Apple trees can often tolerate low temperatures, provided that they have access to water.
When the temperature dips down below freezing, apple tree leaves will curl up and turn brown. This is called ‘winter injury.’ This type of damage is common to many fruit trees, including peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, cherries, pears, and grapes.
10. European Cranberry Bush
Although not technically a tree like the other plants that we have already discussed, the European cranberry bush can grow to heights that are comparable to smaller trees, reaching heights of up to 5 meters or 15 feet tall in some cases.
European cranberry bush plants produce fruit similar to American cranberries. However, the fruits are smaller than those produced in North America.
They are also much sweeter. European cranberry bush grows in cooler temperatures than its American counterpart. A typical temperature range in which these plants thrive is between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that they don’t perform well in warmer weather.
11. Bulgarian Windmill Palm
Yet another variety of palm trees has adapted to colder climates. The Bulgarian Windmill Palm is another exception to the general trend of palm trees only being able to survive in the warmest areas.
It’s no secret that palm trees are popular in warm climates, but there are many different species native to cold regions, such as the arctic tundra and polar desert.
Whilst Bulgarian windmill palms certainly grow well in warmer regions, it is also possible for these plants to grow and even thrive in colder climates, as they have been recorded surviving temperatures as low as minus 17 degrees!
The temperature where Eucalyptus trees grow drops as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-29 Celsius)in some cases. But what happens to them when the temperatures drop below zero?
Eucalyptus trees usually thrive in areas where soil temperatures stay above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10°C), such as California and Australia. They prefer full sun exposure and well-drained soils.
Eucalyptus trees require lots of water during hot periods, but they tolerate colder weather better than most trees.
They should be planted in sandy loam soil or clay loam soil. If you live in an area where there is little rainfall, consider planting eucalyptus near a water source.
Another staple of many forests across the Northern Hemisphere, birch trees have long since adapted to dealing with the seasonal changes that come with the cold winter months at the beginning and end of the year.
Birch trees are found in many regions of North America and Europe. They grow in forests and along rivers and streams, where they provide shelter for small mammals like chipmunks and squirrels.
Birch trees can withstand temperatures well below freezing. This means that they can survive in places where water freezes. They can also tolerate wind chills that reach -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees Celsius).
Is there a more powerful image of trees than a mighty oak, fully grown and towering over its surroundings? It is no wonder that they can also survive the occasional cold bite!
When the temperature drops below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, trees begin to lose their ability to regulate internal heat. Tree sap begins to flow at a slower rate. Trees may become stressed due to this slow rate of sap flow. If the temperature continues to drop, sap flow stops completely.
However, Oak trees manage to avoid the worst of this, especially trees that have a well-established root system that doesn’t get affected by freezing temperatures nearly as much deep underground, as is the case with a lot of older and larger oak trees.
This is one of the reasons that tree roots are very important for survival in colder climates. Roots act as anchors, helping trees hold their position in the ground, as well as keeping at least a part of the tree’s system in a stable condition below ground level.
As you can see, there’s no shortage to the number of trees that can handle a little cold weather if given enough time. It’s just about being smart when it comes to choosing your tree species, planting location, and timing.
If you’re looking to plant a tree this season, make sure to do so after the last frost has passed. When the first hard freeze hits, you’ll want to wait until spring before planting. You don’t want to risk damaging your young plants during the growing season.
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