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Podcast: Let's Argue About Plants

Episode 48: Best Small Trees

Tiny spaces aren’t a problem for these undersized options

Video by Danielle Sherry & Steve Aitken, Produced and Edited by Cari Delhanty

It’s said that every great garden should have at least one tree. They serve as focal points, give the garden structure, and generally just help a landscape look more mature. But many of us don’t have the room to plant a 70-foot sugar maple on our property. Fortunately, there are lots of small trees out there that come in an array of shapes and sizes—perfect for sneaking into any hospitable nook. With these small-scale wonders you’ll never have to worry about the tree falling on your house, growing into your foundation with an extensive root system, or getting too big for the space. Regardless of whether you have a tiny courtyard or a shady alleyway between you and the neighbors, there’s a small tree out there for your situation.

Expert testimony: Paul Cappiello, executive director of the Yew Dell Gardens in Crestwood, KY.




‘Don Egolf’ Chinese redbud

(Cercis chinensis ‘Don Egolf’, Zones 6-9)

Don E Golf redbud
‘Don Egolf’ Chinese redbud

Franklin tree

(Franklinia alatamaha, Zones 5-8)

Franklinia alatus
Franklin tree

European weeping larch

(Larix decidua ‘Pendula’, Zones 3-7)

Larix decidua pendula
European weeping larch

Variegated red horsechestnut

(Aesculus × carnea ‘Aureomarginata’, Zones 5-9)

Aesculus x carnea 'Aureomarginata
Variegated red horsechestnut




‘Evening Light’ Japanese snowbell

(Styrax japonicus ‘Evening Light, Zones 5-9)

Styrax tree
‘Evening Light’ Japanese snowbell

‘Zydeco Twist’ black gum

(Nyssa sylvatica ‘Zydeco Twist’, Zones 5-9)

‘Zydeco Twist’ black gum
‘Zydeco Twist’ black gum

Fox Valley® river birch

(Betula nigra ‘Little King’, Zones 4-9)

Fox Valley river birch
Fox Valley® river birch

Fringe tree

(Chionanthus virginicus, Zones 3-9)

Fringe tree


Expert: Paul Cappiello




Venus® dogwood

(Cornus ‘KN30 8’, Zones 5b -9)

Cornus kousa 'Venus'
Venus® dogwood (bottom blossom) and regular Kousa dogwood (top blossom)

Scarlet buckeye

(Aesculus pavia, Zones 4-8)

Aesculus pavia
Scarlet buckeye

Taiwan cherry

(Prunus ‘Okame’, Zones 6-8)

Prunus Okame
Prunus ‘Okame’. Photo: Josve05a, License CC BY-SA 2.0.

Japanese stewartia

(Stewartia pseudocamellia, Zones 5-8)

Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia, Zones 5-8)
Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia, Zones 5-8). Photo: DenesFeri, License CC BY-SA 2.0.

‘Colossus’ oyama magnolia

(Magnolia sieboldii ‘Colossus’, Zones 6-8)

'Colossus' oyama magnolia
‘Colossus’ oyama magnolia


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