How to Grow Ornamental Trees


Growing ornamental trees is not difficult. Your location and climate zone will determine the types of ornamental trees you can grow outdoors. However, many ornamental trees will work well indoors. When growing trees in pots, remember that they usually require both regular watering to prevent the roots from drying out and more fertilizer than trees that grow outside.

Step 1

Remove your tree from its nursery pot by turning the tree upside down and pressing on the bottom of the pot. If the roots are attached to the sides of the pot, then use a hand shovel to gently dislodge them.

Step 2

Plant your ornamental tree in a pot. Pots limit the growth of the roots, and thus limit the size of your ornamental tree. Plant your tree in your pot so that the roots are between 1/2 inch to 1 inch below the surface of the soil in the pot.

Step 3

Shake the nursery soil from the roots, and spread the roots out as much as possible. Remove any broken or damaged roots by clipping them with a pair of sharp scissors or pruning shears.

Step 4

Using pruning shears, trim back the roots by about a third before planting the ornamental tree in its final pot or location.

Step 5

Fill the pot with a couple of inches of well-draining potting soil. Place the tree in the pot and fill the pot halfway with potting soil. Tamp down the soil with your hands to ensure good root-to-soil contact. Once tamped down, fill the rest of the pot.

Step 6

Water the newly planted tree thoroughly. If planting in a pot, when watering allow the water to run through the holes in the bottom of the pot. Water the tree whenever the soil starts to feel dry.

Step 7

Fertilize the tree with a good, balanced fertilizer after it has been in its new pot for three or four weeks. Follow the fertilizer manufacturer's recommendations for quantity. Don't fertilize earlier to avoid root burn.

Step 8

Prune your tree for shape and size after planting. If you trimmed the roots, then removing branches and foliage will help your tree's long-term health. For most ornamental trees, start pruning from the bottom and prune from the inside. Remove first with pruning shears or a pruning saw any large branches. Doing so will allow you to see the smaller branches that need trimming when shaping the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Ornamental nursery tree
  • Pot (optional)
  • Soil
  • Small gardening shovel (optional)
  • Balanced fertilizer
  • Pruning shears
  • Pruning saw


  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service
  • West Virginia University Extension Service
  • MSU Department of Forestry

Who Can Help

  • Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service
Keywords: ornamental trees, ornamental tree care, growing ornamental trees

About this Author

Christopher Earle is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colo. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, The Associated Press, the Boeing Company, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, Active Voice, RAHCO International and Umax Data Systems. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota.