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Wednesday - July 11, 2007

From: Pensacola, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Juniperus virginiana and some pines for Florida
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I live in Pensacola, FL (Northwest Florida, practically lower-coastal Alabama) and I am looking for a medium size tree that will cast shade on my home. The house faces due west and it gets extremely hot in the summer. I understand that deciduous is the way to go for landscape use with the purpose of energy efficiency (shade in summer; sun in winter). I have a relatively small front yard (approx. 60'x 50') with little landscaping (except for the recently planted Savannah hollies and wax myrtles). I want to provide food and shelter for the birds, and am particularly fond of Christmas-like trees (but Spruces and Firs are not found around here; did I mention I live in Florida?) Will the Ashe Juniper do pretty well in my region? I like all of its characteristics and could even decorate it during the holidays. My 2nd choice would be the Eastern Red Cedar, but all publications that I have read indicate it is a columnar tree (and that brings to mind the straight-and-narrow pencil shaped tree). I'd prefer to have a full, dense, broad to spreading shape tree. Would either of these trees require any amendments to my existing sandy, acidic soil? Would it be advantageous to purchase a relatively mature tree (older than 3 years) or stick with a sapling? Also, it has been unusually dry lately in my area (we usually have humid, rainy summers), so if this weather pattern persists, will the trees survive the drought? I apologize for the overwhelming amount of questions, but I know you are a reputable, respectable source, and am open to your suggestions. Thanks.


Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) should do fine in your area. Its shape is not always columnar and can be quite variable as you can see by the photos in our Image Gallery. Young trees of Eastern redcedar are usually more pyramidal than columnar. Juniperus ashei (Ashe's juniper) is not really a good option, though, since it isn't native to your area. However, since you are fond of Christmas trees, there are several pine trees that are native to Escambia County, Florida: Pinus clausa (sand pine), Pinus echinata (shortleaf pine), Pinus elliottii (slash pine), Pinus glabra (spruce pine), Pinus palustris (longleaf pine), and Pinus taeda (loblolly pine).

Price and availability will likely be the deciding factor for the size of tree you purchase. Most pine trees grow rapidly so a smaller size might be fine if you choose one of them.

No matter what size or what weather conditions, a newly planted tree is going to require regular, thorough watering for two or three months after you put it in place until it grows new roots to replace those damaged by the installation. The best tree-planting time of the year in your area is late fall and early winter.

Here are links for pictures of P. clausa, P. elliottii, and P. glabra.


Juniperus virginiana

Pinus echinata

Pinus palustris

Pinus taeda






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