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Plant some trees this winter

From a gardening perspective, this time of year can seem mundane. This year, why not take advantage of our winter weather and plant some trees?

Winter is a wonderful time to plant a container-grown tree. Cooler temperatures, although not ideal for growth, provide a much needed time for root development and acclimation. Winter is a time of ample rainfall, resulting in less stress and transplant shock.

Local nurseries have a good selection of trees during winter. When deciding on which trees to plant, you should consider the characteristics of the planting site. Take into account the amount of sunlight, soil drainage and the amount of room the tree will have to grow.

Here are a few ‘safe bets’ when looking for trees that thrive in Mississippi.

Large trees:

• Bald cypress — provides a glimpse of the South with its picturesque, pyramidal shape and fine foliage. A bonus is the incredible fall color.

• Live oak — has a beautifully-rounded habit of growth and is well adapted to most all planting sites.

• Nuttall oak — a wonderful species of oak for our area, and is one of the most dependable oaks for red fall color in Mississippi.

Trees for more confined spaces:

• Crape Myrtle — come in almost all colors and sizes, so it is a great choice for a number of different uses.

• Chinese fringe tree — a good small tree that puts on a spectacular show of refined, white flowers for two weeks in the spring. During the rest of the year, it has deep, dark, glossy green foliage. It will certainly enhance any landscape.

• Forest pansy redbud — differs from other redbuds because it has dark purple or even maroon foliage. The deep, lush foliage makes for an interesting specimen and along with its seed pods provides interest throughout the year.

Winter buying and planting of trees makes perfect sense. Brave the cool weather and plant some trees this winter. Come spring, you will be glad you did.

Rebecca Bates is an MSU Extension-Lincoln County agent, and can be reached at 601-835-3460 or by e-mail at rebecca.bates@msstate.edu.