Finding small to medium trees for your garden beds can be hard in California. Crabapples, crape myrtles, and other common small trees don’t tolerate the heat of zones 9 and 10. Thankfully, a few beautiful, smallto-medium-sized, ornamental trees do grow well in this region.
Hydrangeas, in general, are pretty heat-tolerant, and a variety known as Hydrangea macrophylla , or the Japanese snowball hydrangea, grows even in zone 10. These hydrangeas do, however, require plenty of sunlight and moist soil to thrive. The perfect site provides sunlight in the morning and shade in the afternoon.
Japanese snowball hydrangeas are known for their huge, white flowers, which look like snowballs. These flowers appear in the spring and attract butterflies. According to Gardening Know How, the trees reach about 15 feet in height at maturity, although they may stay smaller in hotter climates.
The Arabian lilac is a small tree that develops clusters of tiny purple flowers each spring and fall. Even its leaves are showy, featuring a purple-tinted underside. Arabian lilac trees will tolerate some shade, and they only need occasional watering once established. These semi-evergreen trees add color to your garden bed year-round. You can even plant them side-by-side and maintain them as a low hedge.
In addition to producing the unique, seeded fruits you see at grocery stores, pomegranate trees are exceedingly beautiful. There are a couple of small, heat-tolerant varieties that do well in California garden beds. One is the red pomegranate, which develops orange-red flowers each fall. Another is the purple sunset pomegranate, a tiny variety that turns burgundy in the fall.
Pomegranate trees require full sunlight to thrive, and they tolerate periods of drought. They are selfpollinating, so they will produce fruit even if you only plant one tree.
The Fullmoon polyspora is a unique small tree that develops big, white flowers with yellow centers. They resemble large daisies and appear on the tree early in the spring. The tree’s foliage is also attractive, owing to its shiny, reddish tint. Fullmoon polyspora trees will tolerate partial shade to full sunlight, but they do require a lot of water, especially in a hot, zone 10 backyard.
Fullmoon polyspora trees are evergreen and grow to about a dozen feet tall. These trees are only a few feet wide, which makes them perfect for small flower beds. Plant several in a row for a truly unique privacy barrier.
Also known as silk trees, albiza trees have long, pendulous foliage that swings in the breeze. Not all varieties grow well in California, but the Chocolate Fountain albiza is hardy in zones 9 and 10. This variety has deep, purple-brown foliage that resembles that of a fern. In the summer, it develops delicate pink flowers, which are an interesting contrast to the dark foliage.
Chocolate fountain albiza trees grow tall and wide enough to give a broad canopy that is great for casting a little shade on your yard. These trees require full sunlight and can tolerate some drought.
So which small tree is right for you? That depends on the garden bed you’re trying to fill and the look you are going for. A pomegranate tree is gorgeous if you have a bit more space, and an Arabian lilac is the perfect choice if you need a truly small tree that doesn’t require a lot of watering.
Regardless of which type of tree you plant, it will need regular pruning to keep it healthy and strong. Contact Community Tree Service, Inc. to make an appointment for trimming and tree shaping.