The Tar Heel State, whose residents are fondly and unofficially called Tar Heelers, sits along the Atlantic Ocean between Virginia and South Carolina. It is here the Longleaf Pine dominates pine forests, reaching upwards of 100 feet. The thick, scaly reddish bark is easy to identify, as is the narrow trunk of 28 inches. The Longleaf Pine displays dark-green needles twisted into bundles of three. The Longleaf Pine can grow to be quite old, often remaining immature for the first 125 years and living for 500 years. Although the Longleaf Pine can be a strong addition to the Tar Heeler yard, North Carolinian planters have hundreds of varieties of trees to choose from when planting.
Due to its large size, proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, and southern climate, the smart North Carolinian grower will need to consider the following:
- Soil Type
- Average Precipitation
- Growing Zones
- Weather Damage
Best Trees for North Carolina
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:
- Royal Empress Trees
Ideal for providing fast-growing shade, year-round beauty, and drought resistance.
- October Glory Maple
Ideal for continuous color, adaptable growing conditions, and landscaping designs.
- Cold Hardy Avocado
Ideal for bearing fruit for delicious, edible profits, color, and adaptable qualities.
- Red Rocket Crape Myrtle
Ideal for providing year-round beauty, fast-growing growth, and drought resistance.
Fast Growing Privacy Trees in North Carolina
A state that without doubt deserves its millions of residents, North Carolina is continuing to attract new inhabitants from other parts of the United States. Although a boon for the local economy, new infrastructure can be invasive and annoying. Solutions exist for prying eyes and sound-producing highways. Trees that are cultivated to form protective barriers, better known as ‘privacy trees’ can be planted to afford the Tar Heeler yard the solitude and peace it deserves.
Although there are many privacy trees the North Carolinian planter may plant, none is as fitting as the Willow Hybrid. The Willow Hybrid grow quickly, at upwards of 6 feet a year, and provides fast-growing privacy. Unlike many privacy tree species, the Willow Hybrid is not an evergreen but a subset of the willow, providing a unique barrier against intrusions of every kind. The Willow Hybrid is not the only option to choose from in North Carolina. Alternatively, consider the Thuja Green Giant or Juniper ‘Witchita Blue’.
North Carolina’s climate varies laterally along the state, with the eastern portions primarily influenced by proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and western portions affected by the Appalachian Mountains, which display a subtropical highland climate. Most of the state lies in a humid subtropical climate, with hot, humid summers and mild to cold winters. The average daily temperatures throughout most of the state in summer are at 90°F and in winter are at 50°F. In 1985, the record low was recorded at -34°F. In 1983, the record high was recorded at 110°F.
Most trees require well-drained soil rich with minerals to grow. Cecil soils cover over a million and a half of North Carolina’s acreage, encouraging growth of small grains, corn, cotton, and tobacco. The well-draining, nutrient rich loam is ideal for growing trees, too. Regardless of the property’s location in The Tar Heel State, a soon-to-be tree planter can perform a simple test to determine his/her soil type.
The Squeeze test is aptly named because it requires only a small handful of dirt from just beneath the ground’s surface, and your hands. The soil should be moist, but not drenched. The tester simply squeezes the soil and observes one of the three following events.
1. The soil will hold its shape. If you touch the soil, it will maintain its original shape. You have CLAY.
2. The soil will hold its shape. If you touch the soil, it 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.
North Carolina receives on average 45 inches of rain annually. Precipitation can be unbalanced, with most falling in July. Tropical cyclones traveling along the east coast account for as much as 15% of the precipitation. Although rare across the state, snowfall is not uncommon in the mountain regions, with the western-facing mountains receiving upwards of 80 inches of annual snowfall.
Irrigation is essential in North Carolina, where the valuable quantity of rainfall is not evenly distributed throughout the year by natural forces. Irrigation can assist in water storage and dispersal, ensuring sufficient water for plants. Newly planted trees require consistent and controlled access to water, and irrigation is an effective means of providing this. Ensure sufficient irrigation systems, such as drip or sprinkler systems, are in place so your newly planted tree can grow strong.
For a medium-sized state with both mountains and coast, North Carolina has relatively few growing zones. 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. North Carolina is home to five unique growing zones. Most of the state, including Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, and the northern coastline is in zone 7b, which experiences cold ranges between 5°F to 10°F. Along the southern coast, temperatures are warmer, and do not linger below 10°F to 15°F. The rest of the state, including a central dip that stretches in between Raleigh and Greensboro, can be colder, with temperatures ranging between 0°F and 5°F. This continues west until Asheville, where a vertical band of zone 6b, with temperature ranges as low as -5°F to 0°F are not uncommon. There are also two regions in the Smoky Mountains and Appalachian Mountains where temperatures dip to -10°, near Boone and Cherokee.
Tornadoes, tropical storms, and thunderstorms cause the most damage in North Carolina. North Carolina averages 31 tornadoes a year, with storms occurring most frequently March through May. Tropical storms and hurricanes, traveling along the east coast, have also caused significant damage to North Carolina. Summer thunderstorms, which bring flooding and hail, can be the most damaging. These occur annually affecting limited areas; however, these are usually highly populated and cost the United States $5 million annually.