The Gem State, known throughout much of the country for its agricultural strength, lays claim to the towering Western White Pine. Reaching up well over 150 feet in height, the Western White Pine is native to the Sierra Nevada, Cascade, Coast, and Rocky Mountain Ranges and is even commonly called the Idaho Pine, the state which it represents. As is the case with all white pines, the Western White Pine bundles its needles into groups of five and displays narrow cones measuring between 5 to 12 inches in length. Logging and the recent white pine blister rust fungus have endangered the tree, which is often planted as an ornamental in yards. Idaho planters are not relegated to the white pines, though; several varieties of deciduous and coniferous trees are available for planting on Idaho property.
Due to its varied elevations, large area, and proximity to multiple geographical landforms, the smart Idaho grower will need to consider the following; soil type, climate, average precipitation, growing zones, irrigation and weather damage.
Best Trees for Idaho
Read about the specifics for your state in the following sections. If you’re looking for some quick ideas on what to plant, consider the following trees as expert-tested and The Tree Center approved:
#1. Muskogee Crape Myrtle – Ideal for mildew resistance, fragrant lavender blooms, and fast-growing height.
#2. October Glory Maple – Ideal for continuous color, adaptable growing conditions, and landscaping designs.
#3. Cold Hardy Avocado – Ideal for bearing fruit for delicious, edible profits, color, and adaptable qualities.
#4. Willow Hybrid – Ideal for providing privacy, fast-growing properties, and easy care
Fast Growing Privacy Trees in Idaho
As property in Idaho continues to be developed, land owners are searching for trees that will provide privacy from prying neighborly eyes and loud, unwanted noise. There are many fast growing privacy trees in Idaho, which will quickly grow after initial planting to offer your property and family long sought-after privacy.
The Thuja Green Giant, a staple of privacy trees throughout the United States, is a fast-growing pine that will quickly provide a barrier between you and your neighbors. Growing between 3-5 feet a year, the Thuja Green Giant will offer your yard classic French design with minimal hassle. Alternatively, the Italian Cypress and American Holly will also add color and privacy to your yard’s perimeter.
For a state as far north and with such extreme elevation changes as Idaho, it is surprising it does not receive more extreme weather. In the west this is in part due to the Pacific Ocean, which while over 350 miles away, is still noted for causing milder summer and winter temperatures. In the east, residents should expect more precipitation in summer and less in winter, where the maritime effect is less prominent. For a northern state, Idaho can get quite hot, with the record temperature standing at 118°F. However, typically even hot days do not inch over 98°F. Winters can also get quite cold, with the record being set at -60°F in 1943. Usually, temperatures only drop below freezing for short spans of time.
Most trees require well-drained soil rich with minerals to grow. Idaho has Threebear soil, a well-draining soil rich with volcanic ash. Western White Pines and Douglas Firs love the soil, as do wildlife. Regardless of the property’s location in The Gem State, a soon-to-be tree planter can perform a simple test to determine his/her soil type.
The test requires a handful of fresh soil from the layer just below the top. It should be damp but not wet. The tester should hold the soil in the palm of his/her hand and, not surprisingly, squeeze. The squeeze will produce one of three events.
1. The soil will hold its shape, likely forming a snake. If you touch the snake, the soil will maintain its original shape. You have CLAY.
2. The soil will hold its shape, likely forming a snake. If you touch the snake, the soil will collapse. You have LOAM.
3. The soil will fall apart as you open your hands. You have SAND.
Once you know what soil type you have, you can find trees best suited to the dirt’s properties. Loam is the best soil to have, as its unique qualities make it ideal for holding and transferring water to trees.
Idaho receives, on average, 36 inches of precipitation annually. Moisture arrives from different areas, with the western portion of the state receiving thunderstorms from the Pacific Ocean and the eastern regions receiving moisture traveling up from the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. Precipitation is varied across the state because of this. Regions of north and west report more precipitation in the winter and less in the summer, while southern and eastern regions report the opposite, with greater precipitation falling in the summer and less in the winter.
It is no secret that Idaho is an agricultural state, with its potatoes, barley, beef, beets, sheep, and apples shipped around the country. The availability of irrigation and regulation of water access plays a large part in this. Without water, young trees recently planted will undergo stress, often leading to minimal growth or dying roots. Use sprinklers, furrows, micro-emitters, or drip systems to effectively and efficiently provide water access to newly planted trees to ensure successful growth.
In a state as large as Idaho, with such diverse elevations and weather systems, only ten unique growing zones may seem minimal. A growing zone simply refers to the USDA’s determination of areas where certain plants are most likely to thrive, preferring to focus on minimal temperature ranges in which a plant can survive. In small regions of the east, bordering Wyoming, plants must endure temperatures as low as -45°F, whereas the western border rarely sees temperatures below -15°F.
In recent years, Idaho has seen wildfires, floods, and other severe weather storms affecting the region. Though usually smaller than similar storms in other areas of the country, Idaho suffers from rising temperatures and more frequent heat waves. When planting new trees, the Idaho grower should carefully consider access to water. Irrigation is a great tool to use. Although floods are infrequent, consider trees as a great defense, as deep-rooted trees, like the October Glory Maple, will prevent erosion.