New York is a northeastern state that falls within U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 3 to 7. While New York's uplands experience cool summers and very snowy winters, the southeastern lowlands enjoy warmer temperatures and a longer growing season. New York gardeners selecting trees should consider the tree’s growth rate, intended use, possible problems and mature size.
The eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoids), a tree in the Salicaceae plant family, naturally occurs in the Eastern United States and does well throughout New York state. This fast-growing tree reaches between 50 and 80 feet tall with spreads ranging from 35 to 60 feet. Flowers appear in March and April, with male trees displaying red blooms and females bearing green blossoms. The eastern cottonwood prefers moist, well-drained soils that receive full sun, but can tolerate some drought conditions. This tree features yellow twigs and green leaves that turn yellow in the autumn. Potential problems include powdery mildew, leaf spots and cankers. Caterpillars, aphids and borers often feed on the foliage. New York gardeners often plant the eastern cottonwood tree in lowland areas.
The river birch tree (Betula nigra), native to eastern regions of the U.S., typically performs well in zones 4 to 7. Mature river birch trees reach between 40 and 70 feet high with similar spreads. A member of the Betulaceae plant family, the river birch prefers acidic, moist soils in semi-shady to fully sunny locations. Male trees bear brown flowers, while females display green blossoms. These flowers appear in April and May. This fast-growing, vigorous tree has few health or pest problems. Weakened river birch trees sometimes succumb to the bronze birch borer. Gardeners in New York often plant river birch along streams and ponds.
The dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), a tall tree in the Taxodiaceae plant family, comes from China and does well in zones 4 to 7. This fast-growing tree reaches between 70 and 100 feet tall, but only spreads out between 15 and 25 feet. The dawn redwood tree prefers humus-type, moist soils in full sun. The fern-like leaves start out light green, but turn red and bronze shades in the autumn. Both male and female trees produce cones instead of flowers. This vigorous tree has no serious pest or disease issues. New York gardeners often use this tree in large landscape areas.
Norway spruce trees (Picea abies), needled evergreens in the pine family (Pinaceae), feature stiff, green needles and red-brown pine cones. Indigenous to Europe, this tree does well in all zones throughout the state. Quickly growing to 60 feet tall and 30 feet wide, the Norway spruce grows best in fully sunny locations with well-drained soil. This hardy spruce variety has few health or insect problems. New York gardeners often use the Norway spruce as windbreaks, screens and lawn trees.
Eastern White Pine
The eastern white pine (Pinus strobes) is native to the Eastern United States and does well in all New York hardiness zones. This fast-growing member of the Pinaceae plant family reaches 50 to 80 feet tall with spreads ranging from 20 to 40 feet. The eastern white pine prefers well-drained soils in fully sunny locations. This pine variety features blue-green needles and brown pine cones. Potential problems include blister rust and white pine weevil infestations. The eastern white pine works well in large lawn areas.
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