Quick Reference for Top 5 Palm Trees in Zone 8

Living in Tallahassee, we have chilly winter days and long, humid summers. With those winter freeze warnings comes the USDA designation of Zone 8 for plants, meaning palm trees that thrive in Miami’s Zone 10 will not survive our cold snaps. We have put together a handy guide showing five palm trees that thrive in and around the Tallahassee area. There are additional varieties available, especially if you are looking for indoor plant options. But these five are solid choices for enhancing your existing landscaping or serve as inspiration for a new focal point. Read the accompanying blog here.

Click here for your printable PDF of the Best Palm Trees for North Florida: 

 

A Tallahassee Guide to the Best Palm Trees for North Florida

Palm trees come in all shapes and sizes, but not all are meant for our Tallahassee weather. Luckily, some of the most beautiful palm trees for North Florida offer a wide variety of choices in frond shape, height and silhouette. Whether you chose the shorter Pindo or taller Sabal palm, be aware that palms are different from trees with their own best practices for care.

What is in a Zone and Why it Matters

Pick up any plant label and you see a hardiness zone number. The U.S. Department of Agriculture divides the United States into zones ranging from 1-13 with Zone 1 being the coldest and Zone 13 the warmest. If a palm has a temperature range of Miami’s Zone 11, planting it in Tallahassee’s Zone 8 means it will likely not survive our colder winter temperatures. The following palms are hardy for Tallahassee, ready to enhance your existing landscape or inspire a new design.

 

European Fan Palm

European Fan Palms grow to a hiegy of ten feet tall with finely defined frond. They look good left full or trimmed up to look like a tree.

European Fan Palm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are looking for a smaller option that will be as wide as it is tall, the European fan palm is a fitting solution. Considered a slow-growing, clumping palm, the fronds are held out on a shorter stem, spreading outward in thin fingers. The color may range from a light green to silver, making it an excellent focal point or filler solution. The average size is 10 feet tall by 8 feet wide with an average cold tolerance is Zone 8.

The European fan palm can be grown with multiple plants close to each other, forming a mound of fronds. It can also have the fronts trimmed from the ground up, creating the look of a small palm tree. Because of the smaller size (at least compared to other palms) most landscape designers would suggest planting two or three trimmed trees close together to create a focal point.

 

Pindo Palm

Pindo Palm

 

On the list of best palm trees for North Florida, the Pindo palm is one of the most popular. With an average height of 15 feet or more, the Pindo has large, graceful fronds that arch out and away from the tree. Colors for Pindo fronds range from green to a beautiful blue-grey. Rated for Zone 8, this beautifully fronded palm is perfect for Tallahassee landscapes

You may hear “Jelly Palm” when people are discussing potential landscape additions. The Pindo is well known for the fruit it produces that can be made into jelly by industrious canners. Some Pindo owners see the yearly fruit as a bonus – and others prefer to remove the fruit before it ripens. Though the fruit is not considered harmful to dogs, it may give your family pet an upset stomach, so it’s better to avoid indulging their Pindo fruit cravings.

 

Windmill Palm

Windmill Palm

 

One of the most cold-hardy on our list of palm trees for North Florida, the windmill palm is rated for Zone 7. Able to tolerate temperatures down to the single digits, the fronds are also strong enough to handle snow accumulation. Though snow is not something we worry about in Tallahassee, it is nice to know your windmill palm will be just fine through the frost warnings.

Windmill palms have a trunk covered in a loose mat of coarse fiber, topped by distinctive fronds that grow upward and outward. The fronds are wide, made up of narrow seams with a little give at the ends. As a slow grower with a top height of around 20 feet, you may see the dark green to yellow-green frond tops when the windmill is small, later on enjoying the silvery tones on the underside as the tree matures.

 

Sabal Palm

Sabal Palm

 

Of course we are going to have the state tree of Florida on our list! Also known as the cabbage palm, the sabal is one of the few palms that have a high tolerance for cold (Zone 7), salt and drought once established. As a slow grower, it can take years for it to reach an average height of 40 feet, with trees in the wild growing taller.

Sabal palms are native to Florida and have long been a staple in urban and suburban settings. Usually grown upright, the trunk can also be trained to bend, running above the ground before turning upward. The fronds are a darker green, forming a dense canopy at the top of the tree. The “boot” or base part of the frond may be left behind when a frond dies and falls from the tree. Some sable palms will have boots halfway down the trunk, while others will be boot free.

 

Mexican Fan Palm

Mexican Fan Palm

 

Known for being fast-growing and drought-tolerant, the Mexican fan palm is the tallest palm on our list of best palm trees for North Florida. With average heights spanning between 70-100 feet, these trees are often seen planted along highways and adjacent to tall buildings. For homeowners, the Mexican fan palm, also known as a Washingtonia, looks great in open lawns and is rated for our area as Zone 8.

The Mexican fan palm trunk starts out a reddish brown, eventually turning gray as it matures. Medium green fronds are wide, with lower fronds growing outward from the trunk and newer, higher fronds growing upward. Mexican fan palms are considered to be long living with robust canopies from 10 to 100 feet.

 

Do’s and Don’ts of Palm Care

One of the most important things to remember about palm trees is that they have no bark to protect their trunks like oaks or pines. You want to make every effort to avoid damage during moving, pruning, fertilizing or mowing.

  • Do make sure your palm has the correct amount of sunlight. Light requirements vary with too little sun leading to weak and spindly growth, and too much sun scalding the leaves and threatening the palm.
  • Do fertilize your palms during the warm months, staying away from the trunk where the roots may be burned. Be sure to use the correct mix of nutrients in the correct amounts.
  • Don’t cause root damage. Palm roots tend to grow laterally, so be careful with any digging near your palms. Palm roots are fragile so remember that when you are planting, handle with care and never expose the roots directly to fertilizer.
  • Don’t The best way to avoid overwatering your new palm is to ensure good drainage. You can add sand to the soil in up to a 50% ratio. New palms should be watered every day for the first week. That’s why you do not want water hanging around in heavy clay, rotting new roots.
  • Do prune away dead fronds if your palm is close to a dwelling. Some pests like to make their homes in the “hula skirt” made by a collection of dead fronds laying against the trunk. On the other hand, butterflies and birds also benefit from the same habitat, so it is up to the individual homeowner how to handle the hula.

At Miller’s Tree Service, we understand the varying needs of palms growing in North Florida. It can tricky to prune palms without damaging the trunks – you will never see our crews climbing a palm tree with spikes unless we are there for removal. For trimming fronds on taller palms we use our bucket trucks, lifting our professional trim crew to the proper location along the palm trunk.

If you have questions about the different varieties of palms that will work in your yard, give us a call and one of our arborists will come out for a free consultation. We love talking about the health of your existing trees and any plans for new ones, too. Call us for the emergency of a downed tree or schedule pruning and fertilization anytime at 850.894.TREE (8733).

Download your handy palm tree guide here. Take it with you when shopping for a palm, make notes on the back!

Recovering from Summer Storm Damage in Tallahassee

tree showing lightening scar in bark

Heat, humidity and summer thunderstorms are part of living in the Tallahassee area. Many afternoons, the sound of thunder means a quick rain shower at work that may or may not extend to watering your flowers at home. When the winds pick up and the lightning strikes close, we know summer storm damage ranges from possible to likely.

 Lightning Facts for You and Your Trees

Did you know that a strike of lightning can produce temperatures of 50,000 degrees? Lightning is one of the most dramatic and dangerous forces of nature, for people and trees. The U.S. Forest Service suggests staying sheltered for 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder and staying low to the ground away from trees and water if caught outdoors.

FACT #1: Do NOT seek shelter under a tree during a thunderstorm. Falling limbs and lightning strikes are a real danger when near trees.

Lightning takes the path of least resistance, making tall trees a natural target. Depending on the tree, its water content and the intensity of the strike, damage can vary from minimal scarring to the tree exploding. Imagine the 50,000 degrees of a strike combining with a high water content tree and you have an eruption, destroying a tree. The electrical charge of a strike also travels through the roots and may impact nearby plantings.

tree showing lightening scar in bark

Lightening scar on tree.

FACT #2: Trees struck by lightning may survive, depending on severity of strike and after care.

If your tree has been struck by lightning but is still intact, arborists suggest waiting to see if the tree recovers. Even if scarring occurs, the tree can regenerate root systems and heal around lost bark. Be sure to water and care for the tree as normal, consulting an arborist with any questions about fertilization or pruning.

FACT #3: Do not use wound sealer on exposed bark or pruned areas. It may seal in pests or bacteria that may harm the tree.

Cleaning Up Summer Storm Damage Safely  

After the thunder recedes and it is safe to venture out after a summer storm, there is usually some debris scattered across the yard. During more severe storms, high winds can cause branches to fall or weak spots in trees to split. If heavy rain has occurred, uprooted trees become a possibility, falling across streets, fences and houses.

SAFETY TIP #1: The CDC suggests taking extra care when cutting or moving debris bent or caught under something else. A branch may snap or cause other materials to shift, fall or break unexpectedly, putting you at risk of injury.

Tree Damage and Debris

After a severe storm you may find one or more branches hanging from a tree. It can be tempting to grab ahold and pull, but the odds are good that pulling from the ground will bring down more than the single branch. If a tree service is on the way, let them take care of partially fallen branches. They will likely assess the situation from above, cutting the limb away from the tree and dropping in smaller pieces to avoid additional damage to the trunk.

If a limb or tree has fallen directly on your house, contact the emergency number of your trusted tree service. Take what pictures you can in case they can be used later for insurance, maintaining a distance from the house if the structural integrity is in question. In the instance that power has also been impacted or standing water is involved, move cautiously to a clear area.

Downed power lines and tree debris after storm.

SAFETY TIP #2: Do not approach any downed power lines or drive through standing water in their vicinity. If lines are tangled in a downed tree, do not attempt to move or cut any art of the tree. The power company will need to inspect the lines and cut any power feeds before tree removal can be attempted.

Tree Recovery after a Storm

When limbs break away from a tree, subsequent damage should be assessed for the continuing health of the tree. If multiple branches have broken, opening the canopy and exposing the trunk, sun scald could become a concern. When dealing with a damaged tree, talk to a certified arborist to determine the best course of action going forward. It is best to take care of any storm related issues as soon as possible before pests or decay set in, creating a future hazard.

Questions to ask an arborist about storm damaged trees.

  • Is the tree damaged beyond repair or is it likely to heal with time?
  • Is this a desirable tree to keep? If the damage is significant or the tree is near the end of life, it may the best time to remove and start anew.
  • Will the tree maintain its shape?
  • Did the trunk/bark experience too much damage? The tissue that is directly behind the bark is the part that handles moisture and nutrients back and forth from root to leaves. Too much damage under the bark will hinder survival.

Summer storm season in Tallahassee is also hurricane season. Many homeowners are proactive by performing preventative maintenance themselves or contracting a licensed and insured tree service company. No plan is failsafe when it comes to Mother Nature, but healthy trees tend to resist summer storm damage better. Remember, when a storm does occur, always make safety your top priority.

At Miller’s Tree Service, we have been through years of storm recovery in the Big Bend area. We have also sent crews outside of our usual service area to help other communicates in need. Each year, we hope for a quiet summer storm and hurricane season – and are prepared when storms leave behind damage and debris. We have five certified arborists to help you assess the health of your trees or plan for new ones. Call us for the emergency of a downed tree or schedule pruning and fertilization anytime at 850.894.TREE (8733).

For more information on preparing your trees for hurricane season, see our 5 point tree plan here.

A 5 Point Tallahassee Tree Plan for Hurricane Season

Though we are inland and avoid the potential of storm surge and salt damage here in Tallahassee, hurricane- and tropical depression-strength winds still pose a danger to our trees. Hurricane Hermine – a category 1 storm in 2016 – left approximately 80% of Tallahassee without power for days. Consider a tree plan that includes planning, selection, maintenance, recovery and removal to make hurricane season easier to manage year-round.

1. Planning

When it comes to landscaping, selecting the best location is key to the survival and health of plants and shrubs. When it comes to trees, planning the location can make the difference between a sturdy tree with a healthy root system or a tree that presents a risk in high winds.

  • If you need more shade on a part of your home, measure the total coverage you need and if you require year-round or summer coverage.
  • More interested in a stunning focal point? Determine the height you require and the maximum size desired.
  • If you are looking for a windbreak or visual barrier, measure the length of area you want covered, being sure to stay within your own property lines. Decide the width and height of the trees you want, noting any overhead utilities that require clearance.

Planning ahead with measurements will help in the selection stage of any new trees. Falling in love with an evergreen magnolia at the nursery presents a problem if you want only summer shade. This applies to both homeowners that have bought a house with bare land and those with a well-established landscape. At some point, one or more of your trees will approach its natural end of life cycle and it will be time to plan a replacement – or plan an overall landscape refresh!

2. Selection

In Tallahassee you have an abundance of choices when it comes to selecting trees for your yard.  In most cases the limitations come from available space, cold hardiness, sun/shade exposure and location if the spot is extremely wet or dry. For your tree plan, the overarching need is selecting species that hold up well to hurricane winds and rain.

When considering your options, be sure that trees with wide root bases have plenty of room to grow. Larger trees will have stunted roots if pavement or foundations are in the way, potentially leading to a lack of anchoring in high winds. Even palm trees with their relatively compact root systems need open surface around their trunks.

Grouping trees together can help in hurricane storm situations by the trees supporting each other rather than taking the high winds alone. Select different species that are compatible or a single variety of tree that does well planted together. A local county extension agent or certified arborist can help you select the best trees for your specific landscape needs, with hurricane resistance a top priority.

3. Maintenance

Think of maintenance as the crown jewel of your tree plan. This applies to brand new homeowners with young trees and the experienced homeowners who have seen what hurricane conditions can cause in the Big Bend. Even if your planning and selection are perfect, failure to properly care for your trees leads to potential problems.

Proper pruning usually involves removal of crossing branches and overcrowding within the branches. Overcrowding leads to lack of air circulation through the tree, making it more susceptible to damage from wind gusts.

Removal of dead branches is another critical maintenance item in your tree plan. Like securing outdoor furniture to minimize harm, high winds can turn dead tree debris into projectiles able to cause damage. When considering branch or dead limb removal, remember that even the best intentions can cause issues if improper pruning leads to disease or bug infestations in your carefully selected trees.  Your local arborist is your best choice in assessing what needs to be done to existing tress as well as a plan to keep your trees as healthy and well maintained as possible.

4. Recovery

Even with the best of care, hurricane conditions can cause trees to lean or fall, especially young ones. If the situation is caused by a truncated root system due to pavement or foundations, it’s usually best to start over with new planning and selection. However, if the tree is healthy with a strong root system and the tap root is intact, there may be a chance for recovery.

If you come home from evacuating or venture outside after a storm and find a favorite tree that is 10” diameter and under, with an exposed root system, follow these steps until the tree can be put back in place or is marked for removal. .

Tip: A tree with a diameter larger than 10” will likely be too big to stand back up, re-establish itself and have a good chance of survival.

If the tree is large enough to require mechanical assistance in moving upright, start with:

  1. Immediately: Look the tree over to assess damage. If the main trunk is intact and the root system is healthy (evenly spreading out from the trunk), cover the root area and exposed trunk with cloth or newspaper – NOT PLASTIC.
  2. Wet down the cloth and keep it moist. Keep the trunk covered to avoid sunscald.
  3. Call a licensed and insured tree service with certified arborists – leave a message if you do not get a person on the first try. Let them know the extent of tree damage and that you are trying to recover a downed tree.
  4. Remove broken branches but wait for a qualified tree specialist before removing intact branches. They may decide to thin the interior or do nothing further before righting the tree – it will depend on their assessment of location and tree health.
  5. Recovering a tree is not a guarantee that it will live through the trauma, but if it is a viable option and you are set on giving that particular tree a chance, be aware that the rest is up to Mother Nature.

If a tree is small enough that you can put it back in place easily by hand:

  1. Cover the root area and exposed trunk with cloth or newspaper until you have time to reset it in place. Keep the cloth or newspaper moist.
  2. When you are ready to put the tree back in place, have a level handy. Make sure the newly settled tree is vertical.
  3. Do not pile dirt around the tree. Most trees have a root system that includes the surface area – covering with dirt suffocates the surface roots and makes recovery difficult.
  4. Remove broken limbs back to the branch and broken branches back to the main trunk. Do not prune further.
  5. Keep the newly seated young tree watered and don’t worry if some leaves fall. Depending on the time of year, the tree may go dormant to focus energy on establishing roots.

5. Removal

There are times when a tree has experienced damage or is toward the end of its life and requires removal. If you have any trees that you worry may need removal it is best to take care of them sooner rather than later. Before hurricane season is a great time to call for an assessment of what needs trimming and what needs removing. Even if it’s the middle of summer it’s still better to get on a tree company’s consultation list than to put it off till the next big storm is on the way.

When considering different tree service companies for the maintenance and removal of trees:

DO

  • Ask for a certified arborist who will give an assessment on the safety of your trees in hurricane conditions. Find out their name and confirm their ISA certification by searching org
  • Ask for proof of insurance – personal and property damage as well as workers compensation.
  • Ask for references and follow up by calling and discussing what the former customer had done, how long the job took and how the yard was left after the job was done. Did they stick to the bid?
  • Check out the company website and social media pages. It is unlikely for a reputable company not to have a website with contact information and a street address. Social media page(s) should have evidence of satisfied customers and relevant content, including pictures of the services the tree service offers.

AVOID

  • Individuals who go door-to-door at any time of the year. Reputable tree service companies usually take calls through their office so the right people and equipment can be scheduled for each client’s needs.
  • Going for the low bid – you may experience poor tree maintenance standards. Certified arborists and the crews that work for them stay with industry standards. Do not allow anyone to use spikes to climb a tree unless it is being removed. Nor should they begin trimming without a specific plan.
  • Starting the job without a written bid in place – be sure it includes removal of all debris unless you intend to take care of the leaves and limbs yourself.
  • Adding to the project once it is started unless a supervisor or manager is available to approve the change. The cutting crews are experts at what they do and usually have a schedule of jobs for each day that need to be completed.

An Ounce of Prevention

Being proactive with tree maintenance comes easier with a plan and checklist. We’ve gone over the five key points of a tree plan; planning, selection, maintenance, recovery and removal. A checklist is available below and on our Facebook page at https://bit.ly/5PointTreePlan

Trees contribute to property values and are an important part of wildlife habitat and air quality. Their good points go on and on, making them well worth some time and attention throughout the year. Tallahassee is an official Tree City USA after all!

We love all facets of tree care at Miller’s Tree Service, including helping our clients make the best choices for their landscape needs. Our certified arborists can answer your questions about everything from group plantings to the sturdiest native trees.

Call  850.894.TREE (8733) to schedule an arborist assessment. As a locally owned Tallahassee business, we are invested in keeping Tallahassee trees looking their best!

 

 

 

Planting Trees in Tallahassee for Arbor Day and Beyond

planting tree

Arbor Day is both a national and state holiday. Nationally, Abor Day falls on the last Friday of April – April 29 this year. The state holiday coincides with the optimum tree planting time – meaning the third Friday in January for Florida. With proper planning and follow-up care, every day can be a good day for planting trees in Tallahassee and growing roots in North Florida.

A Short History of Arbor Day

Known for his enthusiasm of trees, former newspaper editor J. Sterling Morton spread his message of valuing trees as secretary of the Nebraska Territory. In 1972 he proposed a holiday he called “Arbor Day” be established by the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture. According to ArborDay.org, “The celebration date was set for April 10, 1872. Prizes were offered to counties and individuals for the largest number of properly planted trees on that day. It was estimated that more than 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day.”

Considering the Nebraska Territory was known for unending plains and dust, establishing the trees was a practical solution to providing windbreaks and helping to reduce soil erosion. Today, all 50 states celebrate Arbor Day as well as numerous countries around the world including Australia. Iceland and New Zealand.

Abor Day in Tallahassee

Late January in North Florida is considered an optimal time for tree planting due to cooler temperatures with slightly above-average rainfall. This combination means the trees are less likely to suffer from heat stress and drought, enabling root growth rather than leaf or flower production. Most Tallahassee Arbor Day celebrations are on or around the third Friday in January, so mark your calendar for 2023. Until then, it’s still a great idea to plant trees with the proper planning for location, soil prep and follow-up care.

Location, Location, Location

The repetitive words apply to both real estate and choosing the right spot for planting trees in Tallahassee. Just like not buying the first house you see, picking the right tree and location is better accomplished with information and planning. Do you need shade on part of your house or a low spot in the lawn that collects rainwater? Those are perfect scenarios for a tree planting solution.

I Need Shade on My House!

Determine which side of the house you are concerned with – south, east, or west? Eastern exposure gives you the morning sunlight, western exposure gives you the sunset. If you still want the heat of the sunset in fall and winter, but not in the summer, then consider a deciduous tree that drops its leaves in the fall. For a larger yard consider a maple or catalpa tree or for smaller yards crape myrtle and eastern redbuds can be your best solution.

If you want year-round shade, investigate the different evergreens that grow well in the Tallahassee area. For large yards consider southern magnolia and longleaf pines or for smaller yards yaupon holly and camellias. All of them need to be planted the proper distance from the house to allow for full-size tree diameter and height. The University of Florida has put together an easy-to-use guide for north Florida trees available by clicking here.

TIP: If you want flowering trees, native trees or a tree that will tolerate that low spot in your lawn, the guide mentioned above provides that information as well.

Tree Planting is Different

Once you have located the best spot for your new tree, dig the hole 1.5 to 2 times wider than the root ball. Going a little wider loosens the soil and allows for faster root growth, especially important in higher wind locations. To measure the depth of the hole, locate the topmost root to the bottom of the root ball.  Note that the topmost root will need to be above the soil level once planted.

Move the tree (always maneuver the tree using the pot, not the trunk) to the edge of the hole, removing inorganic material such as plastic from around the root ball. Examine the topmost roots, even if it requires brushing away a layer of dirt. If any of the top roots are kinked or circling the trunk or container, cut them off at the base of the trunk. Otherwise, these roots run the risk of “girdling,” wrapping around the growing trunk and eventually killing the tree. Use the remaining top roots as your guide for the depth of planting.

After the tree is in the hole, make sure the trunk is standing as upright as possible. Use a level if needed. Backfill with previous dirt and any soil left from the nursery pot and from the soil. When the hole is half full of soil, water the area to remove air and hydrate the roots. Finish filling the hole to ground level with the top roots exposed, allowing them to breathe. Double-check the tree is not leaning. Finish watering the area thoroughly.

Your final act of planting is mulching with plant-based materials. Use enough mulch for a 2- to 3-inch coverage around the tree, leaving the top of the root ball bare. The mulch keeps evaporation down, providing much-needed moisture to new roots growing out from the tree.

Water is Life for a Tree

  • Weeks 1- 2: Water the root ball daily.
  • Weeks 3-8: Water every other day.
  • Weeks 9-12: Water once a week
  • Water less often in winter or if you have poorly draining soils.

Regular watering assures your tree has the hydration it needs to keep roots, leaves and new growth going. Even in the colder months, water matters. During hibernation, trees focus on root growth to help support trunk growth and foliage in the coming spring and summer.

Feeding and Trimming Matter

For most trees, wait six months to apply a light feeding of slow-release fertilizer. Anything more and you run the risk of damaging new root growth. Lightly spread or broadcast the fertilizer under the drip line of the tree canopy, keeping away from the trunk. Once established, most trees are fine on their own, with the exception of citrus and palms. Talk to your local nursery or arborist for specifics.

Pruning does not occur the first year your tree is in your yard. In the following years, follow specific pruning instructions for the specific tree species. Common practices include cutting close to the trunk at an upward angle and avoiding the use of tree wound paints after trimming.

At Miller’s Tree service we think every day is tree day. Helping to plant and trim healthy trees is always a pleasure. As arborists, we also assess trees that are at the end of their life cycle or pose a danger to structures. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide full-service tree care and landscape services around the Big Bend.

As Arbor Day is a holiday for planting trees for the future, so are we and our families firmly rooted in the Tallahassee and area communities.

Azaleas in Tallahassee – Perfect Spring Color Under Your Trees

Azaleas in bloom – our local Tallahassee sign that spring is here. The bursts of red, white and pink are often a splash of color under or around trees, taking advantage of much-needed shade. While new varieties offer new colors and bloom seasons, the best practices on planting, pruning and general care remain the same. Let’s explore how to have the healthiest and happiest (more blooms) azaleas in your Tallahassee neighborhood!

Azaleas Thrive in Companion Planting with Trees

While some of the new varieties of azalea have more sun tolerance, many favorites are what our parents and their parents planted – shade-loving shrubs. A classic southern location for azaleas is under the shade of larger trees, gathered in groups or planted as a surround for the tree trunks. Whether the tradition of pairing shade trees and azaleas sprung from practicality or whimsy, the results provide a perfect balance for your spring bloomers.

When planning where to plant azaleas, be sure to measure back at least 10 feet from tree trunks. Planting closer to the trunk creates competition for nutrients and water between the tree and new shrubs. As the roots grow on both azaleas and trees, the risk of root binding is another reason to give each their own zone.

#1: Plant azaleas 10 feet away from tree trunks.

Pines and Oaks are an Azalea’s Best Friend

Azaleas like acidic soil and prefer indirect light. Pine and oak trees are both tall with varying amounts of foliage throughout their canopies and limbs. The pH from pine needles and oak tannins combined with dappled lighting provide azaleas close to perfect conditions for growing. Tip: Avoid planting azaleas near black walnut trees. Exposure to juglone, a compound specific to the walnut family, is toxic to many plants. Azaleas struggle when planted within the dripline of a black walnut tree.

#2: Pines, oaks and azaleas are happy companions.

Azaleas are Thirsty – but Tolerant

In the first year of planting, azaleas need two good soakings a week during warm weather, three times a week in drought conditions. Azaleas like to get their roots wet, but they do not like soggy ground. Most of our Tallahassee-area yards have enough sand in the soil that drainage is not an issue. After the first year, azaleas are drought tolerant – look for signs of stress and water appropriately during long dry spells to keep them thriving.  Tip: Azaleas need about an inch of water a week after the first year.

#3: Keep your azaleas moist under mulch, but not soggy.

How Proper Pruning of Azaleas is Different

Azalea blooms appear on old wood – meaning they need to be pruned right after the blooming season ends. Not mid-summer, and not in the fall like so many other plants. By that time, next year’s blooms have already set on the stems from spring. Pruning later in the year won’t damage the azalea, but you will not have blooms the next year.

#4: Prune azaleas after blooming season ends.

Azaleas Like to Breathe

Azaleas are like other shrubs and trees in the fact that air circulation through the branches is healthier. Ideally, there are no branches rubbing against each other or dead limbs attracting pests. If there are a few overgrown limbs and smaller shoots that need to be pruned, a handheld bypass pruner works great on live wood, helping to tidy up the shape of your azaleas. TIP: Use loppers for wood thicker than a half-inch.

#5: Tidy up crowded areas and remove dead limbs.

What to do When Your Azalea is having a Bad Hair Day

If your once-shapely azaleas look like they stuck a limb in the closest outdoor outlet, partial prunes are the way to go. This is necessary when some branches have shot up or outwards from the main shrub, causing potential rubbing or breakage issues. It’s best to grab your longer-handled loppers so you can easily prune the wayward branches 6 to 12 inches up from the ground. Try to prune at a natural point on the branch, leaving some leaves on the shoot. Plan on cutting back a third of the azalea for three consecutive years to have all newer wood and a healthier shrub. NOTE: Because you are cutting a live branch back so far, this prune should take place in winter.

#6: To bring wayward azaleas back to shape, trim one-third of the branches back for three years.

Your Azaleas Need a Total Makeover

Azaleas left on their own will grow to the size their cultivar and conditions allow. When partial pruning is not enough, the alternative is to cut the whole shrub back to 12 inches above the ground. Known as rejuvenation pruning, this more drastic measure will leave a hole in your landscaping, with no blooms the following year. Plan for rejuvenation pruning to occur in late winter, which means January and February are your best months in Tallahassee. The azalea will branch back out, setting buds in late spring for the next year.

#7: Rejuvenation pruning helps overgrown and scraggly azaleas back into shape.

When it is Time to Plant Anew

Azaleas are part of the Rhododendron family, originating in parts of China and Japan. A Chinese province claims having a 262-year-old azalea with a 28-inch diameter trunk! Azaleas can live 25 years in well-maintained landscapes, with some making it 35 to 50 years in optimal conditions.

If you have tried rejuvenation pruning without good results, it may be due to the age of the azaleas. If they have reached the end of their growing years, think of this as an opportunity to refresh the soil and plan the exact colors and placement you’ve always wanted for your azalea landscape!

#7: Azaleas thrive for an average of 25-35 years in well-maintained landscapes.

Azaleas are a Tallahassee favorite whether planted in the shade of your trees or as a hedge along your fence. The newer repeat bloom and evergreen varieties open opportunities to add azaleas to areas previously too sunny. But we’ll always be partial to the charm of azaleas in full bloom under the shade of southern oaks.

At Miller’s Tree Service, we often help our clients with the care of their azaleas, trimming and fertilizing or removing old shrubs to make way for new plants.

Our certified arborists can answer your questions about azaleas, crape myrtles and more while on-site. Contact us online here or call 850.894.TREE (8733) to schedule an arborist assessment. As a locally owned Tallahassee business, we are invested in keeping Tallahassee trees looking their best!

 

Proper Pruning: Crape Myrtles in the Tallahassee Area

Crape myrtle trees are a popular landscape staple in the Big Bend area. Vibrant blooms combined with interesting bark patterns make this deciduous tree gorgeous year-round. Most varieties lend themselves to having the classic vase-like shape with multiple trunks and strong branches arching outwards. January thru March are the perfect time for pruning crape myrtles in the Big Bend area.

Following the seven simple steps outlined in this article will go a long way toward keeping your crape myrtle healthy and thriving.

You may enjoy the newly pruned view so much this season that adding a few more varieties to your landscape becomes a goal. We have included a few of our favorite crape myrtles for inspiration!

Pruning Tips

1.  Begin with a goal in mind. Most experts suggest well-spaced main trunks with the center open enough for good air circulation. Identify your first group of branches to trim and stop to reassess after the initial pruning. You can always go through with a second or third round of fine-tune pruning.

2.   It is best to prune your crape myrtle in a certain order, making sure to cut back to a larger branch or to one of the trunks. Do not leave stubs sticking out.

  • Start with the suckers coming up from around the base of the tree. Cut them back to the ground.
  • Cut back branches growing inward that obstruct the flow of air.
  • Prune any dead branches or ones that are rubbing against another.
  • Remove any branches that detract from the overall shape and appearance of the tree.
  • If the tree is 5 feet or taller, begin pruning side branches growing from the main trunks. As the tree matures, this will include branches up to at least 4 feet and more – giving room for walking or mowing without the risk of running into a branch.

One of the best features of crape myrtles is their flexibility of shape. If you start trimming and then realize a few branches would have been better off left alone – no problem. Crape myrtles naturally fill in with smaller limbs during the growing season. As long as you keep the middle open for air circulation and suckers pruned at the ground, your crape myrtle will carry on with new leaves and showy flowers.

Adding More Myrtles to the Mix

When the crape myrtles are in bloom around Tallahassee it’s easy to imagine adding more color to your own landscape. With colors and sizes to match about any plan or space, the difficulty is often in deciding which crape myrtle to plant. To help narrow down the possibilities, measure out the proposed planting area. Consider not only the measurements of how wide the tree will grow, but also how tall. Will it get plenty of sun? Will it cast the right amount of shade?

We are including a crape myrtle infographic below of a few favorites seen often around Tallahassee. If you have questions about placement or varieties, contact a certified arborist for guidance.

At Miller’s Tree Service we have certified arborists that can be a part of your crape myrtle care measures.

If you have a sweet gum tree creating too much shade it may be time to put a pruning plan in place for your larger trees. Contact us online here or call 850.894.TREE (8733) to schedule an arborist assessment. As a locally owned Tallahassee business we are invested in keeping Tallahassee trees looking their best!




How to Prepare Your Trees for Spring

Best Tree Company Tallahassee Tree Service

While it may seem that well-established trees on a person’s property are self-sufficient, most tree service specialists  agree on one point. Healthy trees are cared for and well-maintained, they don’t just happen to get healthy on their own. While many individuals think that trees are low to no-maintenance, quite the opposite is true. There is also a lot to be said for season-based care and maintenance. By keeping your trees healthy each season, your landscape investment will generate a good return.

If you want your trees to get off to a healthier start this spring, these 6 steps will ensure they’re prepared for the upcoming season:

Clean up your property – fallen fruit and small twigs that fall and accumulate over the winter should be raked up and disposed of. If you leave your holiday lights up well past New Year’s (You know who you are), now would be a good time to take them down and pack them away. Light strands that remain wrapped around trees can result in girdling.

Mulching – a 3” thick layer of mulch is what most tree service experts advise. Be careful not to put any up against the trunk as this will create a breeding ground for disease. Mulch promotes moisture retention of the soil and helps prevent weeds from growing.

Watering – wait until you’ve had the last frost and the spring begins to start your watering regimen. Regardless of the cooler temperatures, you never want to let your trees dry out. If you have a bubbler, drip, or sprinkler system (or all 3,) now is the time to check them out and ensure they’re working properly.

In addition to the three tasks above, it’s also the best time to contact an arborist or tree service specialist about inspecting your trees for diseases and pests. The winter dormancy period is also the best time to have your trees pruned and trimmed. Be sure to give your trees the once-over before they start budding out. If there is any damage or disease, this is the easiest time to spot it. The arborist is going look it over and explain the treatment plan for the benefit of your trees. That will ensure healthy and properly growing trees on your property.

If by some chance you discover something that just doesn’t look right, trust your instincts and contact an arborist or tree service specialist to come out and inspect your trees.

Stump Grinding – Should you hire a professional?

When a tree is removed on your property, you are probably left with a stump that needs to be removed. Should you choose to take on this unenviable task, don’t be surprised if you end up spending several days trying to get the stump out. Here’s why we recommend having all of your tree services done by a professional.

Complex stump grinding machinery

Some homeowners choose to rent stump grinders and try to do this themselves. Even though it may appear to be economical, learning how the controls of the stump grinding machine work and operating it safely is not so simple. Some machines are somewhat complex and only an expert understands how to do the job efficiently and safely.

Protective gear

Using a stump grinder without the necessary protective clothing is very dangerous. You need to have eye and ear protection when performing this activity. Experts in stump grinding are trained to know what is required to keep the process safe for them and everyone else on the property.

Initial preparation

Before any work begins, the area around the base of the stump must be well prepared. Professionals know what is required to make the process fast and efficient. For instance, removing rocks near the base of the stump helps to protect the grinding equipment from damage. The stump may also need to be trimmed close to the ground before using the grinder in order to make the process faster.

Safety guidelines

Stump grinding does have it’s risks. A professional must ensure that the grinder is in good condition before work begins. A faulty stump grinder can cause serious harm to the worker and other people around the property. Stump removers know what kind of stumps they can work on and the best method of finishing the job efficiently. Kids and pets should be kept away at all times during removal.

It’s cost effective

If you consider the cost of renting a stump grinder, safety gear and all other tools needed for this kind of project, along with time spent, you’re better off hiring stump removers to come and do the job right the first time. With a professional you don’t have to be overwhelmed trying to figure out how a powerful machine like a stump grinder works or how to operate the controls.  All these tasks are handled by someone that knows.

Get in touch with us here at Miller Tree Service,  we don’t only go out on a limb for you, we also take out those stumps.  Call us now!