Not everyone enjoys living life quickly, and the world’s slow growing trees are not among them. No, it almost seems as though these trees’ gradual growth is motivated by the quality of life.
They are resolved to enjoy every moment of their lives to the fullest and to make the most of their time on Earth. It’s unfortunate that we humans don’t live by this credo more often.
This almost brings to mind a few lines from a poem by W.H. Davies,
“What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare…”
Why Do Some Trees Grow Slowly?
The trees that grow slowly take the longest to mature. Even though they may take decades or even centuries to reach their maximum height, they have advantages over trees that develop more quickly.
Some trees have poor health, which causes them to grow slowly. A sick tree could not have access to enough water, sunlight, or nutrients to grow quickly. Some trees may also be too young and require additional time to mature before they can grow more quickly.
Some explanations for why some trees develop slowly are listed below:
- Poor Soil
- Poor Environment
- Genetic rate
1. Poor Soil
Because they are on poor soil, some trees develop slowly. Your tree would have a tougher time receiving enough nutrients from the ground to keep up with its needs for growth if it were planted in sandy or rocky soil.
If this occurs, you could observe that your tree’s leaves start to turn yellow or brown before they entirely fall off.
2. Poor Environment
For survival, trees also rely on the environment in which they are planted. A tree may not be able to grow if there are not enough rain or soil nutrients in the location where it has been placed because its roots cannot obtain enough water or nutrients from the earth around them without assistance from humans.
3. Genetic rate
It is a proven truth that trees grow at varying speeds depending on their species’ genetic makeup. In general, trees with quick growth rates will do so because it is in their genetic makeup to do so, whereas trees with slower growth rates prefer to follow their genetic requirements.
One of the most important factors influencing tree growth is temperature. Although it might seem simple, the temperature of the environment has a big impact on how quickly a tree grows.
Despite their limitations, some trees can thrive in a wide variety of temperatures. Heat does not agree with trees. Warm, humid environments are necessary for trees to flourish.
10 Slow Growing Trees You Can Use
Slow-growing trees are frequently the preferred option, particularly for gardeners with tiny plots of land who typically don’t have much soil available for planting. This is because these trees don’t need a lot of maintenance. After all, they grow slowly.
Hence, once your plan is in place, that would essentially be it, and you could manage without too much difficulty. Also, because of their size, these trees will never truly outgrow the soil in your garden.
Little gardens are perfect for these trees, which is why they are so well-liked. While by no means exhaustive, this list analyzes the frequently encountered slow-growing trees in the United States.
Without necessarily being a slow-growing tree variety, certain trees may develop more slowly than others. So, there can be some differences from actual life experience.
Let’s now concentrate on ten different slow-growing tree varieties that are frequently planted in American small gardens.
Remember that we are comparing trees’ primary growth, which results in their annual change in height. Results may vary when comparing secondary growth or the average of both.
- Eastern Hemlock Tree
- Canadian White Cedar Tree
- Don Egolf Redbud Tree
- Bur Oak Tree
- Japanese Maple Tree
- Purple Lily Magnolia
- Chinkapin Oak Tree
- Serbian Spruce Tree
- Japanese Snowbell Tree
- Fragrant Himalayan Champaca Tree
1. Eastern Hemlock Tree
One of the most well-known types of evergreen trees with lovely, green foliage that grows slowly in the United States is the Eastern Hemlock tree. This species continues to expand.
This implies that the tree continues to develop slowly for a very long time. The tree may not even reach maturity for hundreds of years. The fact that it is an evergreen tree, however, provides it the advantage of growing all year long.
It’s noteworthy to note that the Eastern Hemlock can grow to be among the tallest trees in the area because it continues to grow for a considerable amount of time.
The evergreen tree in issue has a stunning height of 175 feet, which has been documented by the USDA Forest Service.
These extraordinary trees not only take a long time to mature, but they also live a very long time. The average lifespan of an Eastern Hemlock is up to 800 years, although the oldest one that has been observed is thought to be 988 years old. Around 1000 years!
Talk about enjoying life slowly! These trees’ constant, moderate growth rate is rather amazing in and of itself.
It can take Eastern hemlock up to 100 years to attain 2.5 cm in diameter at breast height (d.b.h.). It could take up to ten years for some other, faster-growing trees (such as sugar maples) to reach this standard tree measurement.
Because of this, Eastern Hemlock trees grow around ten times more slowly than typical North American trees. Under typical conditions, the Eastern Hemlock should grow in the typical garden soil at a pace of between 12 and 24 inches.
2. Canadian White Cedar Tree
The evergreen coniferous tree known as the Canadian White Cedar, often referred to as the northern white cedar or eastern arborvitae, is indigenous to eastern Canada and a large portion of the north, central, and upper Northeastern United States. However, it is widely grown as a beautiful plant in garden soil.
The roots or stems of Eastern White Cedars can group to form clusters. They are a great tree for growing on and around the Canadian Shield because they can thrive in challenging environments like cracks between rocks.
Both the heartwood and sapwood of Eastern White Cedar are resistant to deterioration brought on by several environmental factors. As a result, lots of people use their wood to build things for the outside, such as decks or roofs.
These amazing adaptable trees have managed to survive in the wild. They can endure a variety of harsh situations and continue to develop over time. Despite their sincerity, they do take their time.
The average lifespan of a Canadian White Cedar is 700 years. A close second to the Eastern Hemlock in terms of impressiveness. Similar to the Eastern Hemlock, the Canadian White Cedar typically grows between 13 and 24 inches per year.
3. Don Egolf Redbud Tree
Because of its diminutive height, this tiny, almost bush-like tree is frequently mistaken for a colorful bush. In the course of its lifetime, the tree only manages to grow by roughly 10 feet. This small tree has a short lifespan in addition to a small mature height.
Just 50 to 70 years are lived by the Don Egolf Redbud. This demonstrates that slow-growing trees don’t necessarily have extended lifespans. In actuality, the Don Egolf Redbud is also highly susceptible to plant diseases. They have a big impact on its already brief existence.
Even if the tree is little and has a limited lifespan, it is undoubtedly among the most attractive ones on this list. Bright, brilliant colors are on show all spring on the Don Egolf Redbud.
You don’t need to go further if you want to have a small, sparkling tree around. This tree is all you’ll need.
Often, warmer areas are better suited for the Don Egolf. For that reason, it needs heat and a lot of sunlight. Depending on the region, you might need to give this tree additional attention, especially until spring arrives.
The Chinese Redbud, as it is also known, matures in around 15 years, but during that period, it only grows to a height of 10 feet. This results in a maximum yearly growth rate of 16 inches for this tree.
Even though it isn’t the slowest-growing tree around, this one is nonetheless among the trees with a generally slower growth rate.
It might be best to buy a mature plant if you do decide to have a Don Egolf Redbud tree for your landscape. A Don Egolf seedling can be quite difficult to care for, and you won’t be able to appreciate its beauty until it is fully grown, especially not in the spring.
4. Bur Oak Tree
The Bur Oak understands it has plenty of time to develop since it can live for 200 to 300 years. So, it makes it natural that it would only grow fewer than 12 inches a year. Although the Bur Oak’s growth rate may be modest, due to its lengthy lifespan, it will still be able to grow to an astounding height of 80 feet.
This adaptive tree can grow in every environment, including metropolitan areas with little soil and little room for growth, where nearly no other tree would be able to survive.
5. Japanese Maple Tree
Whatever variation of the Japanese Maple you may be looking at, its red-purple leaves will unmistakably set it out from any other plants nearby. This tree’s remarkable success is partly due to its leaves’ fall color.
The Japanese maple grows between one and two feet every year. Within the first 12 years of its existence, it grows to a height of nearly 30 feet at its tallest. The Japanese Red Maple is likewise one of these trees, however, its secondary growth rate must also be considered.
The Japanese Red Maple is a really attractive tree that will look great in any backyard or garden. The only drawback to these trees is the number of helicopter seeds they can generate, so be careful!
6. Purple Lily Magnolia
It’s easy and enjoyable to prune a Purple Lily Magnolia into the form of your desire. Another tree with a slow growth rate is ideal for shaping and styling to your preferences.
Although the Purple Lily Magnolia has a short lifespan—only 100 years on average—because of the fun you can have styling it, it is well worth keeping around.
The Purple Lily Magnolia takes between 10 and 15 years to reach its full height of 10 feet, growing only 6 to 12 inches per year.
It is also one of the most stunning floral trees in existence, with flowers that are globular in shape and come in pink, purple, and white. It has two-toned globular flowers. The leaves on the trees become golden brown in the fall and then drop off.
7. Chinkapin Oak Tree
The Chinkapin Oak is a beautiful, slow-growing tree that you may add to your garden. It has an average lifespan of at least 100 years. The summer’s deep green leaves turn orange-brown in the fall.
Keep in mind, though, that for this plant to grow properly, it needs at least six hours per day of direct sunlight in addition to a lot of soil cover and space to grow in. Thus, sunny areas are more suitable for it.
The Chinkapin’s sluggish growth of 10 to 24 inches per year, which is good for giving at least some partial shade on a hot day, truly allows it to develop all its assets more thoroughly. This enables us humans to derive the greatest possible benefit from the tree.
8. Serbian Spruce Tree
Although it may be the penultimate tree on our list, this slow-growing tree is still as bit as stunning as they come. Moreover, they are a great accent to any backyard!
One minor issue: The Serbian spruce tree does grow when we talk about it. Everything will grow together, roots and stems in all directions.
Because of this, you need to be careful not to plant your Serbian spruce in an area of soil that is too compact. These roots must have plenty of space to spread out or they will damage nearby buildings, such as walls or sidewalks.
The Serbian Spruce manages to reach a height of 30 to 35 feet tall despite having a lifespan that is less than that of the majority of other slow-growing trees. It typically grows between one and two feet every year.
9. Japanese Snowbell Tree
Styrax japonica, often known as the Japanese snowbell tree, grows slowly and eventually reaches heights of 10 to 20 feet. It has up to 4-inch-long, glossy green leaves with serrated edges. In the spring, bell-shaped, white flowers are followed by black berries.
The Japanese snowbell tree grows slowly and has a long lifespan. Although it may live in warmer climates with proper care, it grows best in temperate climes.
The tree is also well-known for its lovely white blossoms and fragrant scent, both of which bloom in the spring. The USDA zones 5 through 8a are suitable for the Japanese snowbell tree.
10. Fragrant Himalayan Champaca Tree
Slow-growing Fragrant Himalayan Champaca trees can reach heights of 25 to 30 feet. One of the slowest-growing trees in the world is the fragrant Himalayan champaca. Southern Asia and Southern China are their native habitats.
Benefits of Slow Growing Trees
Why, when you stop to think about it, do you need a slow-growing tree? Why bother? It will take a very long time to mature, and it might not pay you any dividends in the form of fruits or anything else for an even longer time.
To tell you the truth, each person has a distinct motivation for developing a little tree or a few flowering trees, and these motivations varied just as much as the rates at which the various trees grow.
These are some compelling arguments in favor of choosing slow-growing trees over those with rapid growth.
- Low Maintenance
- Long Lifespans
- Environmental Adaptability
1. Low Maintenance
These trees often demand relatively little upkeep, which means they don’t need a lot of attention. Instead, all that is required is to plant a little tree in the appropriate soil and watch it develop. Consider planting a little tree in the patch of dirt next to your house if you have it!
Of course, you will need to pay attention to important considerations, such as if the plant in question requires a specific type of soil, partial shade, a sunnier location to grow in, or would perform better with plenty of sunlight.
2. Long Lifespans
You will undoubtedly appreciate the beauty in this if you are a history nerd like I am.
Three to four generations after you plant a tiny tree next to your ancestral home, you still have family nearby who can enjoy the lovely, partial shade and beauty of those gigantic trees.
The living memory of a tree you helped raise with your own two hands is one benefit you might wish to leave behind as the majority of these trees can live anywhere from 60 to 100 to even 800 years or so.
3. Environmental Adaptability
Slower-growing trees have a better chance of adjusting to their surroundings and typically have stronger structures. Several of them are oak trees, which frequently live for more than a century.
They can produce harder wood and have better resilience to tree pests, diseases, and unfavorable climates and environments because of the slower growth rate. Also, they are better able to recover from injuries on their own. Trees of moderate growth have comparable characteristics.
We certainly hope you didn’t read this as slowly as those trees grow. If you were seeking for a tree that grows quickly and ended up here instead, you will at least know what to avoid looking for when you start your search.
We hope this is helpful if you came here specifically to find out which trees glow slowly but live a long time or which species could be easier to work with and shape.
Keep in mind that no two trees will ever be the same. There are Japanese Maples with very wide trucks and some that are taller and narrower. Your Don Egolf Redbud may grow slightly taller or shorter than you anticipated.
Although knowing what to expect helps, each tree is different, so part of the process involves learning as you go along. We appreciate you taking the time to visit with us, and we wish you luck as you continue to learn about trees!
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.