Selecting the perfect ornamental tree for your home can be overwhelming with the wide variety of options available. From evergreens to blooming species and those with colorful bark, the choices seem endless. However, if you want to enhance the beauty of your garden and surroundings, trees with heart-shaped leaves are an excellent choice that will make your area stand out.
In this article, we will explore the enchanting world of trees with heart-shaped leaves and introduce you to seven of the most stunning species. These trees are not only visually appealing but also bring color and natural beauty to your yard or garden year after year.
Unveiling the World of Heart-Shaped Leaved Trees
Trees with heart-shaped leaves are primarily classified under the Tilia or Cercis genera. Their distinguishing features include beautiful flowers, variable sizes, and of course, their distinctive heart-shaped leaves. Let’s dive deeper into their characteristics, ideal growing conditions, and suitable weather requirements.
The Unique Beauty of Heart-Shaped Leaves
Heart-shaped leaves, also known as cordiform or cordate-shaped leaves, stand out from their oval-shaped counterparts with their larger base, central dip, and tapering tip. These distinctive features give each tree’s canopy a unique attractiveness that cannot be found elsewhere. When these trees are clustered together, their individuality shines through, creating a captivating display.
Discovering Trees with Heart-Shaped Leaves
Let’s explore some of the most popular types of trees with heart-shaped leaves:
1. Flame Thrower Redbud Tree
A relatively new addition to the horticultural industry, the Flame Thrower Redbud Tree (Cercis canadensis ‘NC2016-2’) displays stunning gold, red, green, and orange leaves with heart-shaped patterns. It bursts into magnificent blossoms, filling your landscape with vibrant colors.
- Size of Tree: It takes about ten years to reach its maximum height of twenty feet and blooms after just five years.
- Planting Zones: Zones 5 to 9 are ideal for this tree, covering a wide range of geographical areas.
- Position: Flame Thrower Redbud trees thrive with six to eight hours of daily sunlight but can handle light shade.
- Soil: These trees thrive in acidic soil but can also grow in sand, loam, or clay.
Instead of traditional green leaves, the Flame Thrower Redbud Tree boasts vibrant, naturally occurring colors. In addition, it produces an abundance of lavender flowers in March and April, adding to its allure.
For optimal results, plant this tree in well-draining soil with plenty of sun exposure. Water it twice a week or whenever the top 3 inches of soil are dry. Pruning can be done in winter to remove broken limbs or in summer when the tree is dormant.
2. Hearts of Gold Redbud Tree
Another newcomer to horticulture, Hearts of Gold Redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Hearts of Gold’), is a stunning tree with heart-shaped leaves. Its heart-shape can reach its maximum size after 20 years, growing up to 25 feet tall.
- Tree Size: Hearts of Gold Redbud can reach a height of 20 to 25 feet and has a moderate growth pace.
- Planting Zones: Similar to the Flame Thrower Redbud, this tree thrives in zones 5 to 9.
- Position: Hearts of Gold Redbud requires six hours of sunlight daily but can tolerate partial shade.
- Soil Type: This tree is tolerant of a broad range of soil types, including well-drained soil, sand, clay, or loam. It can even handle acidic or alkaline soils.
Hearts of Gold Redbud is known for its changing foliage, transitioning from emerald green to gold. Additionally, it produces beautiful lavender blooms in early spring that can last up to three weeks.
Transplanted trees require a 3-inch mulch coating and watering twice a week during the first year or whenever the top 3 inches of soil are dry. Pruning should be kept to a minimum, focusing only on removing broken or crossed branches.
3. Rising Sun Redbud Tree
Cercis Canadensis ‘JN2,’ commonly known as Rising Sun Redbud, is a remarkable tree known for its heat and drought tolerance. It was discovered in 2006 at Jackson Nursery in Belvidere, Tennessee, and is also referred to as the Love Tree or Judas Tree.
- Tree Size: Rising Sun Redbud reaches a maximum height of 12 feet with a spread of 8 feet.
- Planting Zones: Similar to other redbud trees, it thrives in zones 5 to 9.
- Position: Rising Sun Redbud tolerates shade but needs access to direct sunlight to blossom fully.
- Soil Type: This tree prefers acidic to alkaline soils with a pH range of 6.5 to 8. It can adapt to various soil types but does not thrive in saturated or waterlogged conditions.
With its changing foliage from orange to yellow to green throughout the year, Rising Sun Redbud adds a touch of beauty to any landscape. Its brilliant purple blossoms emerge before the leaves, providing an eye-catching display in spring and summer.
Rising Sun Redbud requires monthly watering, particularly during dry spells. Applying a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in spring is beneficial. Pruning should be minimal, limited to removing only broken or crossed branches.
4. Quaking Aspen Tree
Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) is a distinctive tree known for its light bark with black patterns and its leaves, which turn a beautiful golden-yellow in the fall.
- Tree Size: Quaking Aspen can reach a height of 60 feet and live for over a century.
- Planting Zones: This tree grows well in hardiness zones 1 to 6, making it suitable for various climates.
- Position: Quaking Aspen requires full sunlight and cannot tolerate shade.
- Soil Type: It thrives in well-drained, wet soils, including loam and clay, with a pH range of 5.5 to 8.0.
Quaking Aspen is beloved by horticulturists for its golden leaves and delicate catkins. Its leaves gently quiver in the wind, making it a captivating addition to any landscape.
Plant Quaking Aspen in rich soil and provide a spring fertilizer feeding using a balanced formula for best results. Pruning is best done during the winter dormancy period.
5. Southern Catalpa
Officially known as Catalpa bignonioides, the Southern Catalpa is recognized for its distinctive veiny leaves, scaly bark, and knotty trunk.
- Tree Size: Southern Catalpa can grow up to 60 feet tall and has a lifespan of up to 70 years.
- Planting Zones: This tree thrives in zones 5 to 9, covering a wide range of geographical areas.
- Position: Southern Catalpa prefers full sunlight but can tolerate light shade.
- Soil Type: It grows best in rich, acidic soils with good drainage, tolerating pH levels between 5.5 and 6.
The leaves of the Southern Catalpa emit a unique odor when crushed, and its blooms add a burst of cream-colored beauty from May to July. While it can be considered an environmental nuisance due to leaf and bloom shedding, bees are attracted to it.
Seedlings should be grown in shade before being planted in sunny or slightly shaded areas in spring. Regularly check the soil moisture and avoid overwatering during the tree’s early stages.
6. Foxglove Tree
Paulownia tomentosa, also known as Foxglove Tree, is native to central China. Recognized for its rapid growth, it can be invasive if not managed properly.
- Tree Size: Foxglove trees can grow up to 80 feet tall and achieve maturity within a decade.
- Planting Zones: Thriving in hardiness zones 6 to 9, this tree is suitable for a range of climates.
- Position: Foxglove trees require a minimum of six hours of sunlight each day.
- Soil Type: They can tolerate a wide range of soil types, from pH levels of 5 to 8.5 and varying levels of acidity or alkalinity.
With its silver-ringed bark and purple blossoms that emit a vanilla-like fragrance, Foxglove trees make a striking addition to any landscape.
Foxglove trees are resilient and require minimal care. They have strong roots and don’t need frequent feeding. However, they produce an abundance of seeds and may be considered invasive in certain areas.
7. American Lime
Despite its misleading name, the American Lime (Tilia americana) is a member of the mallow family, not the citrus family. It is often referred to as Carolina basswood, American linden, or American basswood.
- Tree Size: American Lime can reach heights of up to 130 feet and has a lifespan of up to 200 years.
- Planting Zones: This tree thrives in zones 2 to 8, covering a wide range of geographical areas.
- Position: American Lime requires six hours of sunlight daily and has moderate shade tolerance.
- Soil Type: It prefers neutral to alkaline soils, thriving in a pH range of 4.5 to 7.5.
American Lime trees are known for their lush canopies and fragrant yellow flowers, which attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. Additionally, their seeds provide sustenance for birds and squirrels.
American Lime trees prefer damp, nutrient-rich soil and should be mulched annually to prevent nitrogen deficiencies. They tolerate dry conditions but require consistent watering during droughts. Pruning can be done in autumn or winter while the tree is dormant.
Trees with heart-shaped leaves add a unique charm to any landscape. Whether you choose deciduous trees like the gold redbud or the quaking aspen, or evergreen varieties like the southern catalpa or foxglove tree, they are sure to make a stunning statement.
From the enchanting colors of their foliage to the delicate beauty of their blossoms, these trees provide more than just visual appeal. They offer ecological services and play an essential role in our ecosystem. So, whether you opt for the Flame Thrower Redbud or the American Lime, these trees guarantee a captivating and beautiful addition to your surroundings.
For more information and to explore these magnificent trees, visit Ames Farm Center.