The Mountain State is known for many geographical and cultural features, not the least of which is the Sugar Maple, which grows abundantly throughout the state. This deciduous tree usually grows between 80 and 115 feet tall, with exceptional specimens reaching 148 feet. The Sugar Maple has large, deciduous leaves, stretching to almost 8 inches in both length and width. Although the Sugar Maples are valuable for their tourism, as the fall foliage can be an uneven coloring of reds and greens throughout the autumn, Sugar Maples are also valuable for the famous product they provide: maple syrup. Despite the profitable and aesthetic benefits of the Sugar Maple, West Virginian growers have hundreds of trees to choose from when planting.
Due to its small size, geographical features, and varying temperatures, the smart West Virginian grower will need to consider the following:
- Soil Type
- Average Precipitation
- Growing Zones
- Weather Damage
Best Trees for West Virginia
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.
- Dwarf Cavendish Banana Tree
Ideal for bearing fruit, providing character, and moving between inside or outside.
- Arapaho Crape Myrtle
Ideal for spectacular colors, ornamental beauty, and easy maintenance.
Fast Growing Privacy Trees in West Virginia
As property in West Virginia 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 West Virginia, 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 West Virginia, 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 Leyland Cypress and American Holly will also add color and privacy to your yard’s perimeter.
West Virginia’s distinct elevations impact the existence of two distinct climate zones. In the lower elevations of the southwest, the region displays a humid subtropical climate. The rest of the state displays weather characteristic of a humid continental climate. In the southwest and eastern areas of Appalachia, residents experience hot, humid summers and mild winters. The rest of the state has slightly cooler summers and winters. Winter averages annually across the state at 34°F, and the record low temperature was recorded in 1917 at -37°F. Summers are hot, and average at 72°F across the state. The highest recorded temperature was recorded in 1936 at 112°F.
Most trees require well-drained soil rich with minerals to grow. West Virginia is characterized by Monongahela soil, which covers over 100,000 acres of the state. The soil is valuable; well-draining, deep, and nutrient rich, Monongahela soils are used for crops, pasture, woodland, and construction. Regardless of the property’s location in The Mountain 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.
Rainfall is both plentiful and variable in West Virginia. In the southeastern region, rainfall annual averages is 32 inches, while in the rest of the state areas may receive 52 inches. Despite moderate rainfall, West Virginia is one of the cloudiest states in the nation, with two of its cities ranked 9th and 10th for cloudy days. Fog is also prevalent in the region. Snowfall, like rainfall, is unevenly distributed. More snow falls in the mountains, which may see 180 inches of snow. The cities accumulate, on average, 34 inches of snow annually.
With uneven rainfall, irrigation can be an important tool for ensuring successful plant growth. Newly planted trees require sufficient and sustained access to water, which an irrigation system can easily provide. Many trees, once planted, may require watering 3-4 times a week. Investigate the property for natural or manmade irrigation systems, and if none exist, consider investing in a drip or sprinkler irrigation system to ensure a successful new planting.
West Virginia is home to four unique 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. In West Virginia these zones are primarily focused on elevation. In the lower elevations of the southeast, east, and areas southwest of Charleston, low temperature ranges are warmest, rarely dropping below 0°F. In the central-west region of the state, temperatures cool significantly, dropping to below -10°F and -5°F. In the central-east region of the state, the coldest low temperature ranges exist: between -15°F and -10°F.
West Virginia is partially protected from severe weather, both due to its inland location and tall mountain ranges. Of all the states east of the Rockies, West Virginia is the least-tornado prone. Flooding can occur, although damage is usually minimal and only in low-lying regions. Trees can be a preventative measure against flash-flooding, as the roots protect against erosion.