Texas covers eight USDA hardiness zones from 6a through 9b. The state has subtropical areas in the south that rarely freeze and dry, alkaline desert with frequent winter freezes. The amount of rainfall varies from less than 12 inches per year in far West Texas to over 50 inches per year in East Texas. The Texas landscape's diversity requires that you select trees based on your growing region's soil, topography, rainfall and temperature characteristics.
Texas Native Trees
Native trees present excellent choices for home landscapes. The Texas A&M University native trees website provides information on mature tree size, desired growing conditions and hardiness zones along with pictures of hundreds of trees. You will find that native trees adapt to growing conditions better and generally require less care, fertilization and water than trees imported from other areas of the country.
Check out examples of native Texas trees at arboreta and botanical gardens in your area (see the resource below for a list) or talk to your county agricultural or forest service agent.
Small trees grow 15 to 25 feet tall. A list of trees for each Texas growing region is available from Texas A&M University. A few small trees that grow in most areas of the state are red cedar, Chinese pistache, Japanese black pine, Mexican plum, redbud and crape myrtle.
Select small trees to accent areas of the landscape by including desirable characteristics such as evergreen, flowering, or fall color. Small trees do not provide much shade, so they are good candidates for focal points in landscape areas with small shrubs and flowers placed around the tree.
Medium and Tall Trees
Pecan, deodar cedar, and hackberry trees grow well throughout Texas with heights well above the minimum tall-tree height of 35 feet. The pecan tree is the Texas State Tree, as enacted by statute in 1919. Pecans have long lives and can reach 70 to 100 feet tall. They provide shade and edible nuts. Lace bark elm and cedar elm grow throughout the state, and as of 2009, neither variety has shown susceptibility to Dutch elm disease.
Medium and tall members of the oak family include the Texas red oak and bur oak. The attractive Shumard red oak does well in all areas except the West Texas.
Texas Superstar™ Trees
A combined effort of the Texas Department of Agriculture and Texas A&M University created the Texas Superstar™ program in 1989. Horticulturists and nurserymen recommend potential Superstar plants. Formal testing by horticulturists involves productivity, disease resistance, low water requirements, and availability of the plants. The chinkapin oak and Texas lilac vitex trees made the superstar list.
Researchers at Texas A&M University recommend planting trees while they are dormant in native soil without special amendments. Smaller trees adapt better to transplanting than larger ones. New trees require supplemental water until they establish in their new location.