Kansas only has two U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones--5 and 6--where the average night-time winter temperatures range from -10 to -20 degrees F, an important factor in determining how well a tree will grow. Gardeners in Kansas can pick from trees that are large enough to shade a house to those small enough to be planted in the center of a garden.
Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra) is also known as Texas buckeye and Horse chestnut. The tree grows from 30 to 70-feet tall and produces leaves that grow from 3 to 6 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide. The leaves appear in late March or early April as a bright green color and deepen to a dark green and finally yellow, red-brown or pumpkin orange in the fall. The 1-inch wide yellow-green flowers appear in May and are followed by 1 to 2-inch long pear-shaped fruit that contains seeds that are poisonous to humans, but not the squirrels who look to it as a major food source. Plant the tree in full sun and a deep, moist, well-drained soil for the best results. Ohio buckeye can be grown throughout Kansas.
Downy hawthorn (Crataegus mollis) is also known as white thorn or whitethorn. The tree grows from 20 to 40-feet tall and produces broad-hairy leaves, white flowers that grow in clusters and bloom in May and June and large scarlet-colored fruits. Plant the tree in full sun, partial shade or full shade and a soil that is dry to moist, but not wet. Birds and small animals make their homes in the downy hawthorn, but do not eat the fruit. The tree can be grown in all areas of Kansas.
Green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) is also known as red ash. The tree grows from 60 to 70 feet tall and 45 feet wide. It produces leaflets that grow from 2 to 5 inches long that make up leaves that grow up to 1 foot long and turn yellow in the fall. The tree will have either male or female flowers that bloom in May and one of each is necessary to produce fruits which grow from 1 to 2 inches long and become tan when they are ripe. Plant the tree in full sun and a soil that is moist and fertile. Green ash can be grown in all of Kansas
Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) is also known as the Judas tree. It grows from 20 to 40- eet tall and 30 feet across. The magenta flowers appear before the heart-shaped leaves and grow in clusters covering the branches. The flowers give way to seed pods that grow from 2 to 4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide that last through the winter long after the leaves are gone. Plant the tree in full sun or light shade and in a soil that is moist but not wet. Eastern redbud grows well across Kansas.