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Canopy for Central Florida

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I'm trying to get a canopy tree soon to protect my garden during cold years when there is frost. Here's what I'm looking for:

 

  • Evergreen
  • Tropical look
  • Fast grower
  • Small canopy in width (backyard is 15' wide from house to fence)
  • Hardy to 8b (the reason for this is if I plant something and it gets huge in 10yrs then dies I'll have an expensive problem on my hands so ideally it should be able to handle temps of sub-20f briefly)

 

I was looking into Corymbia citriodora (Lemon Eucalyptus) and it is just about perfect, except it is rated to 9a on Daves Garden. DG also puts the Rainbow Eucalyptus at 9a which I've read is really pretty tropical so I'm skeptical.

Does anyone have any other suggestions? I was wondering if there might be some hardier eucalyptus that would do the trick... 

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Loquat seems to fit all the criteria.

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Here is a few;

 

Callistemon citrinus- Lemon Bottlebrush

Cocculus laurifolius- Himalayan Snailseed

Elaeocarpus decipiens- Asian Blue Berry Tree

Eriobotrya deflexa- Bronze Loquat

Eriobotrya japonica- Loquat

Ilex cassine- Dahoon Holly

Ilex latifolia- Lusterleaf Holly

Ilex rotunda- Kurrogane Holly

Ilex vomitoria- Yaupon Holly

Ligustrum japonicum- Japanese Privet

Myrcianthes fragrans- Simpson Stopper

Nageia nagi (Podocarpus)- Nagi Tree

Neolitsea sericea- Asian Silver Tree

Quercus geminata- Sand Live Oak

Quercus myrsinifolia- Asian Evergreen Oak

Viburnum odoratissimum var. awabuki- Mirrorleaf Viburnum

Xylosoma congestum- Shiny Xylosoma

 

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Thanks a lot guys!

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Also, if you can find Podocarpus macrophyllus. Most P. macrophyllus sold now is the cultivar "Maki' (and may actually be P. chinensis). 'Maki' has shorter leaves and more compact growth. It can eventually grow 10-20ft but is slow. The "species" form of Podocarpus macrophyllus grows faster and can reach 30-40 ft with a nice spread. Two other related podocarps are Afrocarpus gracilior, Fern Podocarp and Podocarpus elongatus, Yellowwood. All 3 make great trees and are very strong and wind resistant.

 

 

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Quality info, there.

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magnolia grandiflora and hong kong orchid is extremely fast browning and pretty hardy

Edited by empireo22
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Thanks a lot for all the additional info! I still haven't made any final decisions yet, but I'll be getting something soon. :)

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I've been running through my options all along and I think I may actually go with a Ulmus parvifolia ('Drake' Chinese Elm).  It seems to meet all my criteria (medium/fast growing, hardy through zone 7, tropical looking) with the exception of being evergreen. Technically it is semi-deciduous, but I think it is basically an evergreen in Central Florida. 

8000.jpg

Pretty cool bark right?

I'm still giving some thought to loquats, the only downside I see is they don't seem to grow fast based on my research. The Lemon Eucalyptus is still interesting too, but I still a little concerned about their hardiness and, reading what Eric said in another thread about Hurricane Charlie, it doesn't sound like they do too well in high winds. 

 

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Chinese elm is awesome! I've been marveling lately at some trees at the campus where I'm that have just leafed out and how healthy, lush and somewhat tropical looking they are. I think they are underutilized: they do really good even in the sandbox sand we have for soil up here.

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Ah, Chinese elms.

They ARE beautiful, no two ways about that.

But, be warned . . .

We have them here, in Cali, too, and they're not totally evergreen.

The wood is tough, yet busts up in the wind sometimes, usually because the leaves stay on into winter (the windy season here). They sometimes make my Orgiastic Archie Palms seem downright frigid and celibate by comparison, with their wind-borne seeds and babies popping up EVERYWHERE. (Including in the crotches of some "litter-trapping" palms.) Children of the Elms (lots of evil giggling) would be a great Steven King novel. The kids have deep roots young, too, though not as bad as Ash.

(Please don't even THINK about Ash, Fraxinus.)

Elms can get big with time, too.

Hmm. I'll see if I can come up with an alternative, though I have to be honest, it's going to be tough.

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Livistona decora works great.  They hold a lot of leaves, fast growing, cold hardy, and when the dead leaves fall off, they do not weigh much.

DSCN3678.JPG

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2 hours ago, DoomsDave said:

Ah, Chinese elms.

They ARE beautiful, no two ways about that.

But, be warned . . .

We have them here, in Cali, too, and they're not totally evergreen.

The wood is tough, yet busts up in the wind sometimes, usually because the leaves stay on into winter (the windy season here). They sometimes make my Orgiastic Archie Palms seem downright frigid and celibate by comparison, with their wind-borne seeds and babies popping up EVERYWHERE. (Including in the crotches of some "litter-trapping" palms.) Children of the Elms (lots of evil giggling) would be a great Steven King novel. The kids have deep roots young, too, though not as bad as Ash.

(Please don't even THINK about Ash, Fraxinus.)

Elms can get big with time, too.

Hmm. I'll see if I can come up with an alternative, though I have to be honest, it's going to be tough.

Huh, I've scanned many streets around LA on streetview and seen most of the typical street trees, but no Chinese elm. I imagine it looks a lot more sparse out there: how do they handle the dryness?

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2 hours ago, Mike Evans said:

Livistona decora works great.  They hold a lot of leaves, fast growing, cold hardy, and when the dead leaves fall off, they do not weigh much.

DSCN3678.JPG

nice garden. how old is that one in the photo.

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3 hours ago, DoomsDave said:

Ah, Chinese elms.

They ARE beautiful, no two ways about that.

But, be warned . . .

We have them here, in Cali, too, and they're not totally evergreen.

The wood is tough, yet busts up in the wind sometimes, usually because the leaves stay on into winter (the windy season here). They sometimes make my Orgiastic Archie Palms seem downright frigid and celibate by comparison, with their wind-borne seeds and babies popping up EVERYWHERE. (Including in the crotches of some "litter-trapping" palms.) Children of the Elms (lots of evil giggling) would be a great Steven King novel. The kids have deep roots young, too, though not as bad as Ash.

(Please don't even THINK about Ash, Fraxinus.)

Elms can get big with time, too.

Hmm. I'll see if I can come up with an alternative, though I have to be honest, it's going to be tough.

+2 for Dave's observation..  As nice as the bark pattern does look, ..these, Evergreen Ash, and Chinese Zelcova have to be some of the messiest trees around.  Eric had some excellent options. Also like the Livistonia Mike suggested. Wonder if some of the native shrubs like Myrsine, any of the hardier Sideroxylons, etc might work if trimmed up?.

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Photinia+serratifolia+form+sc.JPG

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Photina serratifolia...........I got one in beach sand up here in the cold north.....this thing is pretty darn fast! 

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1 hour ago, Opal92 said:

Huh, I've scanned many streets around LA on streetview and seen most of the typical street trees, but no Chinese elm. I imagine it looks a lot more sparse out there: how do they handle the dryness?

They grow like the Weeds of Doom, especially in a lawn. Might find some pics and post. Mine were euthanized more than a decade ago, after a chainsaw mangled them.

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Not super fast growing, but maybe some Texas natives?

Ehretia anacua - Anacua (loses leaves around 20F...also has fragrant flowers and attracts many pollinators!)

Ebenopsis ebano - Texas Ebony (minor damage in the low 20s, established trees in S. Texas have survived mid teens; nitrogen fixing)

Also, Citrus? 

Edited by Xenon
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Great suggestion Jonathan:greenthumb:

Texas Ebony is a great tree very few people outside the Desert and parts of Texas know about. Did not expect to see it growing in Florida until i saw this one at Selby. Easy but slow from seed. Clean and evergreen, or, nearly so. Can have small spines but is not "thorny" like Sweet Acacia can be. Pods are really cool looking. Have pondered the idea of creating a grove of these for sheltering smaller shade loving/ frost tender palms myself.
5707192dc65aa_DSCN0336(741x745).jpg.1a77



 

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Eucalyptus?

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The primary consideration should be the tree's natural suitability as a host for orchids!  I might be a little biased though! :D

Here are some trees that two of your native orchids... Encyclia tampensis and Epidendrum magnoliae... naturally occur on...

Acer rubrum (conopseum)
Annona glabra (tampensis)
Carya glabra (conopseum)
Fagus grandifolia (conopseum)
Juniperus virginiana (conopseum, tampensis)
Liquidambar styraciflua (conopseum)
Magnolia grandiflora (conopseum
Nyssa biflora (conopseum)
Nyssa sylvatica (tampensis)
Paurotis wrightii (tampensis)
Pinus elliottii (tampensis)
Quercus virginiana (conopseumtampensis)
Roystonea regia (tampensis)
Taxodium distichum (conopseum, tampensis)
Tilia americana (conopseum) 

The advantage of choosing any of these trees is that they are also suitable for the fungus that the seeds of these two orchids need to germinate.  I'm sure there are plenty of other trees that are also suitable for the same fungus and orchids... but, unfortunately, I don't know which trees these are.  There still aren't very many Florida folks who sow native orchid seeds on their trees.  Or, if there are, they don't necessarily post their results (that I know of).  

There's a vendor on eBay... bluemossguy... who often sells really great crosses with tampensis and conopseum at really reasonable prices.  Personally, I love hummingbirds so I'd try and cross these two orchids with a bunch of orchids that are pollinated by hummingbirds.  Here's are the closest example that I could find...

Enanthleya Burkhalter's Eva = Cattlianthe Eva (Guarianthe aurantiaca x Cattleya cinnabarina) x Enc. tampensis

Eplc Butterfly Kisses = Lc Trick or Treat  x  Epi. conopseum

Edited by epiphyte
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14 hours ago, Silas_Sancona said:

+2 for Dave's observation..  As nice as the bark pattern does look, ..these, Evergreen Ash, and Chinese Zelcova have to be some of the messiest trees around.  Eric had some excellent options. Also like the Livistonia Mike suggested. Wonder if some of the native shrubs like Myrsine, any of the hardier Sideroxylons, etc might work if trimmed up?.

Huh, they seem to be one of the cleanest trees on the campus where I'm at, only dropping all leaves at the correct time in fall; and I haven't even noticed significant seed drop. Maybe it behaves differently out there and/or is partially stressed from the dryness in those arid situations.

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57 minutes ago, Opal92 said:

Huh, they seem to be one of the cleanest trees on the campus where I'm at, only dropping all leaves at the correct time in fall; and I haven't even noticed significant seed drop. Maybe it behaves differently out there and/or is partially stressed from the dryness in those arid situations.

They don't drop seeds; they produce winged seeds that fly like mini lethal drones everywhere and sprout into these tough zombie babies that refuse to die. I get them all the time from my neighbor's yard plant, and from plants further upwind, too.

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I would reconsider the weeping elm. They are really variable in how much foliage they hold but most lose a lot even in warm winters, I wouldn't depend on them for frost protection canopy. Older trees are also very prone to splitting or blowing over. Lots of these trees were planted around Orlando in the late 70s/early-mid 80s and many blew over in the 2004 hurricanes. At Leu Gardens we lost quite a several to the hurricanes. Since then other older ones have split apart or blown over in summer storms. They have a shallow but dense root system and it can be hard to dig under older trees too.

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Ebanopsis ebano, Texas Ebony, is a great tree for central FL. They are slow when young but speed up after a few years, especially if they are irrigated. They are cold hardy, drought tolerant and evergreen. Our trees really do not lose much leaves in winter. It has a very dense canopy. They also flower 2-3x a year. They get covered in creamy white flowers that are very fragrant. 

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My observation about dicot trees for canopy is that you need a chainsaw, for when the tree gets too big and too bothersome to keep after, so you can cut it down and start anew (or have a replacement at the ready nearby).

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Photina serratifolia

Photinia serratifolia form sc.JPG

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Thats a nice specimen!

I think we are a bit too south for Photinia. We have tried quite a few species and hybrids here and they never do well. They sometimes grow good for a few years but eventually thin out and die or just look sickly. They are very prone to fungal leaf spots.

 

Photinia x fraseri 'Birmingham' was widely planted here in the 1980s. This is the common "red tip". After about 10 years most died out. I still see a few survivors as trees but they look bad. 

 

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23 hours ago, empireo22 said:

nice garden. how old is that one in the photo.

I have 4 L decora in the garden planted in 2000.  After forming a trunk, they were putting on ~ 2' - 3' of wood a year.  Great canopy palm!

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On 4/7/2016, 2:37:14, DoomsDave said:

Ah, Chinese elms.

They ARE beautiful, no two ways about that.

But, be warned . . .

We have them here, in Cali, too, and they're not totally evergreen.

The wood is tough, yet busts up in the wind sometimes, usually because the leaves stay on into winter (the windy season here). They sometimes make my Orgiastic Archie Palms seem downright frigid and celibate by comparison, with their wind-borne seeds and babies popping up EVERYWHERE. (Including in the crotches of some "litter-trapping" palms.) Children of the Elms (lots of evil giggling) would be a great Steven King novel. The kids have deep roots young, too, though not as bad as Ash.

(Please don't even THINK about Ash, Fraxinus.)

Elms can get big with time, too.

Hmm. I'll see if I can come up with an alternative, though I have to be honest, it's going to be tough.

Thanks for the words of warning, I hadn't considered the wind-borne seed side of it.

On 4/7/2016, 2:54:13, Mike Evans said:

Livistona decora works great.  They hold a lot of leaves, fast growing, cold hardy, and when the dead leaves fall off, they do not weigh much.

DSCN3678.JPG

It is still tempting to go the palm canopy route...

Btw, sorry I couldn't make it over to your garden last month for the tour. I had tickets to the Lightning game that night and had to get some chores done first so I had to get back to Tampa early. :( Still though, it was good seeing you out at Kopsick at least. 

On 4/7/2016, 5:52:33, Silas_Sancona said:

+2 for Dave's observation..  As nice as the bark pattern does look, ..these, Evergreen Ash, and Chinese Zelcova have to be some of the messiest trees around.  Eric had some excellent options. Also like the Livistonia Mike suggested. Wonder if some of the native shrubs like Myrsine, any of the hardier Sideroxylons, etc might work if trimmed up?.

I'm not sure, I'll have to check them out. :) 

On 4/7/2016, 6:22:18, Alicehunter2000 said:

Photina serratifolia...........I got one in beach sand up here in the cold north.....this thing is pretty darn fast! 

It looks nice, but Eric's saying we're too far south and I'd imagine he's correct. It is funny how when you get into Central and Southern Florida certain temperate species won't grow well.

On 4/7/2016, 10:20:12, Xenon said:

Not super fast growing, but maybe some Texas natives?

Ehretia anacua - Anacua (loses leaves around 20F...also has fragrant flowers and attracts many pollinators!)

Ebenopsis ebano - Texas Ebony (minor damage in the low 20s, established trees in S. Texas have survived mid teens; nitrogen fixing)

Also, Citrus? 

Hmmm, Ebenopsis ebano looks nice. I like the seed pods. :) 

On 4/7/2016, 11:22:03, Opal92 said:

Eucalyptus?

I still like eucalyptus, definitely a good option. Unfortunately they haven't been easy to find around here.

19 hours ago, epiphyte said:

The primary consideration should be the tree's natural suitability as a host for orchids!  I might be a little biased though! :D

Here are some trees that two of your native orchids... Encyclia tampensis and Epidendrum magnoliae... naturally occur on...

Acer rubrum (conopseum)
Annona glabra (tampensis)
Carya glabra (conopseum)
Fagus grandifolia (conopseum)
Juniperus virginiana (conopseum, tampensis)
Liquidambar styraciflua (conopseum)
Magnolia grandiflora (conopseum
Nyssa biflora (conopseum)
Nyssa sylvatica (tampensis)
Paurotis wrightii (tampensis)
Pinus elliottii (tampensis)
Quercus virginiana (conopseumtampensis)
Roystonea regia (tampensis)
Taxodium distichum (conopseum, tampensis)
Tilia americana (conopseum) 

The advantage of choosing any of these trees is that they are also suitable for the fungus that the seeds of these two orchids need to germinate.  I'm sure there are plenty of other trees that are also suitable for the same fungus and orchids... but, unfortunately, I don't know which trees these are.  There still aren't very many Florida folks who sow native orchid seeds on their trees.  Or, if there are, they don't necessarily post their results (that I know of).  

There's a vendor on eBay... bluemossguy... who often sells really great crosses with tampensis and conopseum at really reasonable prices.  Personally, I love hummingbirds so I'd try and cross these two orchids with a bunch of orchids that are pollinated by hummingbirds.  Here's are the closest example that I could find...

Enanthleya Burkhalter's Eva = Cattlianthe Eva (Guarianthe aurantiaca x Cattleya cinnabarina) x Enc. tampensis

Eplc Butterfly Kisses = Lc Trick or Treat  x  Epi. conopseum

I'll admit I hadn't the slightest consideration of a tree's suitability to grow orchids, but it isn't a bad idea! There are some trees at the Thai Temple in Tampa with orchids on them and they look really nice. 

15 hours ago, Eric in Orlando said:

I would reconsider the weeping elm. They are really variable in how much foliage they hold but most lose a lot even in warm winters, I wouldn't depend on them for frost protection canopy. Older trees are also very prone to splitting or blowing over. Lots of these trees were planted around Orlando in the late 70s/early-mid 80s and many blew over in the 2004 hurricanes. At Leu Gardens we lost quite a several to the hurricanes. Since then other older ones have split apart or blown over in summer storms. They have a shallow but dense root system and it can be hard to dig under older trees too.

Thanks Eric, I didn't realize they were susceptible to high winds... That alone makes me pretty nervous. 

 

Thanks to everyone, quoted or not, for your feedback. :D 

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I would think the upright or smaller forms of Chinese elm have better wind resistance. I've seen many of the weeping or larger varieties planted, their growth is fast and droopy, the canopy is very thick, and the trunks usually end up having a lean to them.

There are many variants: check out this UF article here. I've seen some of these forms in person, and some are a lot more sturdy growing and the leaves/twig structure are not as dense making it a wind sail. Some of them also don't grow as monstrously huge. Also, there are some older ones at the campus where I'm at here that survived the 04 and 05 hurricanes okay. I would still consider Chinese elm.

Edited by Opal92
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