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Trees That Grow in Winter

By MelissaBielawski ; Updated September 21, 2017
The douglas fir is a well-known evergreen tree.
fir image by Alex from Fotolia.com

While many trees and shrubs are deciduous and lose their leaves seasonally, there are numerous types of trees that are evergreen. Evergreen trees retain their leaves all year round, including throughout the winter. During the winter, when the majority of vegetation is bare, evergreen trees add a touch of color to an otherwise desolate landscape. These trees are often a valuable source of food and shelter for birds and small animals during the cold winter months.

Eastern Red Cedar

The eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) often grows in areas where most of the trees are deciduous. In the winter, the green leaves take on a brownish hue. This tree grows quickly with very minimal maintenance, and once well-established, it is self-sufficient. Eastern red cedar grows well in most soil beds, including clay, with full to partial sun. This tree does not flourish if the ground is overly wet. Eastern red cedar grows to a height of 40 to 50 feet and a spread of 10 to 20 feet, according to The University of Florida. During the winter, this evergreen tree frequently provides vital shelter for otherwise homeless birds. The tree's fruit, small bluish-purple berries are also a food source for birds and small animals. The eastern red cedar tree is hardy in USDA planting zones 2 to 9.

White Pine

White pine (Pinus strobus), also referred to as eastern white pine, is a towering cone-producing evergreen. It is popular for its use as lumber and pulp for paper, as well as a cut Christmas tree. The needles of the white pine, which are bluish-green, always grow in bundles of five, and the tree's 6 inch cones are speckled with silver, according to The Ohio Department of Natural Resources. While some varieties retain the bluish color throughout the winter, others fade for the season. This lofty tree grows easily and rapidly. It can reach over 150 feet in height, with a trunk diameter of 4 to 5 feet. Full sunlight and moist, well-drained soil is preferred, according to the Floridata website. Tolerance for heat and drought is low, so the white pine should only be planted in cooler climates. White pines are known for their longevity, typically living up to 250 years, while some trees have survived for 400 years. It is hardy in USDA planting zones 4 to 7.

Douglas Fir

The douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is the largest member of the pine tree family. This evergreen tree is considered a valuable source of timber, as well as one of the most popular choices for a Christmas tree. The douglas fir has dark green to bluish green needles that emit a sweet fragrance when crushed. The tree grows up to 80 feet in height with a 15 to 20 foot spread, according to the Tree Help website, and it typically has a life span of several hundred years. The douglas fir is hardy, but it does not tolerate consistently wet soil conditions, preferring moist, well-drained soil with full sun exposure. The tree's 3 inch cones are a reddish-brown and open in the summer to distribute seeds. Many birds eat the seeds as they fall, and small mammals store them as food during the winter. The douglas fir is hardy in USDA planting zones 4 to 6.

Norway Spruce

The Norway spruce (Picea abies), a member of the pine family, is one of the most familiar varieties of spruce trees. Aptly named for its origination in Norway, the Norway spruce is used annually by New York's Rockefeller Center as its official Christmas tree. This evergreen tree is one of the fastest growing spruces, with dark green foliage and 4 to 6 inch cones. At maturity, the Norway spruce reaches 80 feet in height with a spread of 40 feet. The Norway spruce is very hardy and can tolerate a wide range of soil and sun conditions. It can handle drought and heat but is unable to endure consistently wet soil conditions, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. In the winter, Norway spruce seedlings act as food for birds and small mammals, as well as a source of cover in harsh weather. Norway spruce is hardy in USDA planting zones 3 to 7.