Trees for the Prairie

Greenhouses burst with alluring annuals for our gardens. If these flowers were wearable, we might consider them jewelry, and the trees that anchor our yards as fundamental as the black dress. 

Trees and shrubs add a vertical shape to the area above the annuals and perennials in a yard. Trees can be the welcoming presence at your front gate or mark the beginning of your garden in the back. You may pair them with touching boughs as a living arbor on a path. They can anchor the spot beneath them planted in colorful annuals. This Prairifire Flowering Crabapple is one of many small trees suitable to grow on the Northern Plains. The photo is from the Arbor Day Foundation.

The shape of trees and shrubs adds interest in the growing season and leafless, if not evergreen the rest of the year. A tree design article in the March/April Horticulture magazine is available for browsing at the Yankton Community Library. The Snowdrift Crabapple is another small tree that grows in this region and fills the yard with flowers in spring.

Like annuals and perennials, trees and shrubs may have one grand moment of bloom, such as spring for the trees above, or may also have other attributes that add to a yard. The Prairifire leaf color may span the season against other green foliage. 

Beyond ornamentation, trees and shrubs can be selected for shade in summer, drawing pollinators to the garden, fruit for birds, and creating privacy. The American Cranberrybush Viburnum, a photo from Arbor Day Foundation, has a lace cap flower in spring, can be grown as a hedge, gives berries for birds in fall, and fall color leaves. 

Trees and shrubs that grow well on the Northern Plains

Consider attributes of long-lived trees that fit your interest and space before selecting one. The Arbor Day Foundation members have planted 350,000,000 trees in the 50 years of the nonprofit organization. Their website at has a Tree Finder for the zip code location to narrow choices to ones that grow well in the region. Further interest screens include tree or shrub mature size, pollinator interest, etc. 

Thanks for visiting Plant Exchange Blog. Happy looking for trees!

2 thoughts on “Trees for the Prairie

  1. Trees are beautiful. We think the two river birches in our garden are beautiful although there are no flowers. We thank those river birches to be among the other shrubs in our garden that drink up our very very wet garden – buttonball!

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