Louisiana’s Best: Drought-tolerant trees

The huge lives oaks that add beauty to our landscapes are testament to their toughness. Photo by Kathie Rowell


While we haven’t had the extreme drought conditions this year we experienced in 2011, rain has certainly been scarce lately.

If you’re planning to add trees to your landscape when fall’s ideal planting conditions arrive,  you might want to consider those that are known for their drought tolerance.

LSU AgCenter forester Ricky Kilpatrick offered these tough tree recommendations:

  • Green ash: This tree, which tops out at about 60 feet tall and 50 feet wide, can take challenging soils and either wet or dry conditions. “It grows fast in good conditions, and will grow and survive in conditions where many others wouldn’t make it,” he said.
  • Chinese pistachio: Looking for something that doesn’t get so big? This one matures at 25 to 30 feet high and has the bonus of beautiful fall color.
  • Crape myrtles: Drought tolerant and beautiful? Doubly worthy of a spot in your yard.
  • Cedars: These “Christmas trees”  can grow to 50 feet tall and 30 feet wide.
  • Pines: While pines can tolerate drought, stress makes them more susceptible to damage by ips beetles.
  • Red maples: Once established, regular red maples (not Drummond red maples) can tolerate drought.
  • Live oaks: This Southern icon is tough enough to live for centuries, but make sure it has plenty of elbow room. You may not be around to see it, but live oaks will eventually mature to about 75 feet tall and 100 feet wide.

Remember, though, that no tree is drought tolerant until it’s well established. That means adding a layer of mulch and watering in the absence of rain.

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