October 26th, 2017

Our province is home to an incredible variety of trees and shrubs. If you’re looking to add some new trees or shrubs to your property, you have no shortage of options. But before you begin, it’s important to understand the basics of what can grow and thrive in Alberta and why.

Here’s a little Alberta tree 101.

Trees are commonly divided into two categories: deciduous, which means that the tree loses its leaves or needles seasonally, and coniferous, which means that the tree reproduces through cones and has needle shaped or scale-like leaves. Coniferous trees may also be referred to as evergreens. Some trees with needles lose their needles in the fall and so are considered deciduous. Some trees with leaves don’t lose their leaves seasonally and so are considered evergreens. Alberta is home to both deciduous and coniferous trees.

Plant Hardiness Zones in Canada is a map from the Government of Canada which outlines where various types of plants, trees, shrubs and flowers are most likely to survive. This map is based on average climatic conditions of each area with zone 0 being the harshest and zone 8 being the mildest. Most of Alberta is considered part of zone 3, and so we can usually get away with having plants and trees that do well in zones 2 through 4 if we put a little effort in. A zone 2 tree will grow with very little care, a zone 3 tree will be fairly hardy and low maintenance, and a zone 4 tree is still a possibility but you’ll have to put in some work. Trying a zone 5 plant in Alberta should be reserved for very experienced gardeners or people who can deal with some disappointment. Above zone 5 is like putting a saltwater fish in a bathtub—things might work out for a little bit but, there isn’t likely to be a happy ending. Common trees that grow well in Alberta include a variety of pine, spruce, fir, tamarack (larch), willow, poplar, birch and cherry.

Want to know more about specific trees in Alberta? Continue browsing our blog for our “What’s That Tree” articles!

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