best tree to plant in wisconsin

12 Best Tree To Plant In Wisconsin That Feed Wildlife

For wildlife enthusiasts who want to invite their ‘friends’ to the backyard, you have landed on the right page! We have compiled the best tree to plant in Wisconsin that will feed the wild animals and offer a cozy home for them. They grow lush and produce fruits, leaves, and acorns they can enjoy during the season.

Not only that, but some flowering trees are also here to adorn your Wisconsin gardens and landscapes. Moreover, the shade trees will provide shade in the hot summer sun. So, you will get beauty and benefits all in one package! Interested? Check out our collection of the best trees to plant in Wisconsin below!

1. American Elm (Ulmus americana)

best tree to plant in wisconsin
American Elm

Elm trees are tree species that are commonly found in Wisconsin. One of these species is the American Elm or Ulmus americana. This large, vase-shaped tree with lush dark green leaves that can grow up to 80 feet tall, providing you with shade. In addition, the chipmunks, wood ducks, birds, and finches enjoy its samaras.

American Elm Leaves
American Elm Leaves

Considering its structural and architectural form, American Elm is ideal for street trees. It was, in fact, the most well-known one in the 1900s before the Dutch Elm Disease infected. However, if you want to plant this fast-growing tree, prepare a spot with full sun exposure or partial shade. In addition, it also requires fertile, moist, sandy, limestone-based, or clay soils.

2. Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

best tree to plant in wisconsin
Black Walnut

As its name suggests, Black Walnut or Juglans nigra has a black bark color. The color does not occur when they are mature but since they are young plants. It bears broad leaves with toothed edges. Hence, you need to be aware of them if you do not want to get hurt. Also, this tree is a food source for foxes and woodpeckers.

best tree to plant in wisconsin
Black Walnut Leaves

Besides the dark bark, this large tree is also famous for its edible plum-like fruits, which have a sweet taste, thus a great addition to your ice cream or cakes. Similar to the previous tree, Black Walnut loves full sun. Therefore, you must provide an area where it can get at least 6-8 hours of sun exposure per day. It also needs fertile, moist, well-drained soil to thrive.

3. Bur Oak Trees (Quercus macrocarpa)

best tree to plant in wisconsin
Bur Oak Trees

Quercus macrocarpa or Bur Oak Tree is a deciduous tree with a large and wide crown whose height can reach up to 100 feet. Thanks to its strong trunks, it can support the horizontal, massive bark. The leaves are yellowish-green and about 9 inches long. Moreover, this tough tree also produces giant acorns, which are wood ducks’ favorite snacks.

Bur Oak Leaves
Bur Oak Leaves

Regarding its growing requirements, this tree is not picky about the lighting levels as it favors full sun but copes well with partial shade and shade locations. They also moderately disease-resistant trees that tolerate various soil types and conditions as long as they have a pH of around 6.8.

Moreover, it withstands drought and limey soils better than other oaks. Hence, we include this tree in our list of the best tree to plant in Missouri.

4. Crabapple Trees

best tree to plant in wisconsin
Crabapple Trees

Besides the fruits, crabapple trees are among the breathtaking flowering trees in Wisconsin. They produce fruit with a diameter two inches smaller than ‘legit’ apples on the market. Nonetheless, the texture and taste are relatively similar. These fresh fruits are also animals’ favorite, while the flowers are a nectar source for bees and butterflies.

best tree to plant in wisconsin
Crabapple Fruits

If you are interested in planting Crabapple Trees, prepare a location that gets at least 6 hours of sun daily with wide space to allow their growth. They also require moist, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. In addition, you can taste the sweetness and crispness of Crabapple fruits from September to November.

5. Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

best tree to plant in wisconsin
Eastern Red Cedar

For those who want to grow trees for privacy, you can try planting Eastern Red Cedar. It is one of the shade trees that offer dense dark green foliage that grows up to 50 feet. The shape is like a spruce tree but with a wider crown. It is also drought, heat, and cold tolerant you can always rely on to create a privacy screen for your home.

Eastern Red Cedar Leaves
Eastern Red Cedar Leaves

To grow them in the Wisconsin landscape, you must set aside a full sun or partial shade location as they do not tolerate total shade. Other than that, it prefers deep, moist, but well-drained soil with a pH of 4.7 to 7.8 to perform best. Regarding the soil type, choose the alluvial one. Moreover, birds and cedar waxwings love the blue-gray berries this tree offers.

6. Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

best tree to plant in wisconsin
Flowering Dogwood Tree

Cornus Florida or Flowering Dogwood is one of the most beautiful flowering trees to grow in Wisconsin. Depending on its cultivar, it features stunning pink or white flowers that fill the stems in spring to early summer. These blooms also produce nectars for pollinators, like bees and insects. Not to mention the deep green foliage creates a lovely contrast to the landscape.

best tree to plant in wisconsin
Flowering Dogwood

Moreover, the aromatic bark and root of Flowering Dogwood are a natural remedy against malaria used by native Americans. Suppose you are interested in growing this shade-loving tree because of these advantages. In that case, you can prepare a space whose soils are rich, well-drained, and acidic. It does not need much watering, making the native tree easier to care for.

7. Green Ash Trees (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

best tree to plant in wisconsin
Green Ash Trees

Green Ash is an ideal choice for fast-growing trees because of its upright, wide-spreading growth at maturity and capability of reaching 50-75 feet tall. The leaves unsightly grow thickly in a round shape. In addition, they will provide an amazing seasonal transition from green to yellow-reddish leaves in fall. Moreover, this fast-growing tree attracts birds and butterflies and becomes larval hosts.

Green Ash Leaves
Green Ash Leaves

Like some other shade trees, Green Ash stands well in dry, wet, and moist soil with a circumneutral pH. It favors full sun yet can also grow in partial shade and shade lighting conditions.

If you want to propagate the seeds, pretreatment is necessary. Perform moist warm stratification on the seeds for 60 days and then continue for 120 days at a temperature range of 34-40’C. They are usually commercially available at the nearest local nursery.

8. Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata)

best tree to plant in wisconsin
Shagbark Hickory Tree

You can easily spot Shagbark Hickory in the landscape, thanks to its unique features. It has large strips of silvery-brown barks, giving the stems a sturdy appeal. They are also strong and tough. Hence, they will instantly mess up your cutting tools once you try to cut them off. Above all, the tree offers beautiful yellow foliage in fall, while the nuts are the meals for squirrels and chipmunks.

Shagbark Hickory
Shagbark Hickory

Furthermore, this tree loves sunny locations as it loves to soak in under the full sun. However, it copes well in partial shade. Regarding the soil conditions, prepare moist, lightweight, well-drained, and acidic soil. As the growing zone is the US hardiness zones 4-8, we include Shagbark Hickory as the best tree to plant in Wisconsin.

9. Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)

best tree to plant in wisconsin
Quaking Aspen

Populus tremuloides or Quaking Aspen is the best tree to plant in Wisconsin considering its fast growth. The medium-sized tree has a pyramidal growing habit with a rounded crown full of dazzling dark green leaves that will later turn golden yellow in the fall. Furthermore, this tree benefits deer, moose, and elk as they eat buds, leaves, bark, and twigs of this tree.

Quaking Aspen Leaves
Quaking Aspen Leaves

Considering its size and beauty, Quaking Aspen is widely planted as ornamental trees. This sun-loving tree best performs in fertile, humusy, moist but well-drained soils. Since it has a robust root system and can grow up to 20-50 feet tall, it is not recommended to plant this tree near the building because it can damage the building structure and polluter the roof tiles with fallen leaves.

10. Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)

best tree to plant in wisconsin
Silver Maple

Silver Maple can be a great option to provide shade to your landscape, thanks to the lush leaves. It is a medium-sized ornamental tree that produces attractive summer green foliage while stunning soft yellow shades slowly appear in the fall. In addition, Silver Maple is the best tree to plant in Wisconsin to offer food for squirrels as they feed on the buds happily.

Silver Maple Leaves
Silver Maple Leaves

Speaking about its planting requirements, Silver Maple can grow under the sun, in partial shade, and shady areas on rich, wet to moist, and slightly acidic soils. Knowing it loves moisture, regular watering is suggested. Despite being so eye-catching, it is not recommended to be planted near sidewalks because the vigorous roots can damage the paving.

11. Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

best tree to plant in wisconsin
Sugar Maple Tree

You must be familiar with maple trees if you are a fan of maple syrups. The syrups are made of sap from the sugar maple tree, which contains about 1-5% sugar content. The hallmark of this large shade tree is the three to five-lobed leaves that grow thickly to form a broad crown. In addition, the leaves will turn golden to scarlet in autumn, offering a stunning view of the Indiana landscape.

Sugar Maple
Sugar Maple

Despite tolerating moderate drought, you must provide deep, moist, well-drained loamy soil to make these maples grow happily. Since it loves moisture, watering them around 5 gallons per week is necessary. Meanwhile, the site must have total sun exposure to achieve the best growth.

12. Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)

best tree to plant in wisconsin
Weeping Willow Tree

Salix babylonica or Weeping Willow Trees is a deciduous tree that grows up to 40 feet high at its mature height. It is graceful because its weeping branches sweep off the ground, making it different from other fast-growing shade trees. It also produces abundant pollen for bees, moths, and butterflies to feast!

Additionally, this large tree is one of the earliest trees to grow leaves in the spring and the last leaves to fall in the autumn, making it the best tree to plant in Wisconsin.

Weeping Willow
Weeping Willow

Similar to other fastest-growing trees in Wisconsin, it prefers moist, clay soils, loam, or sand under full sun to thrive. It also needs occasional wet soils. In this case, watering is crucial. Despite being a stunning tree, growing Weeping Willow near your house is not recommended because its roots can damage the structure of the building. Instead, you can plant them near ponds, streams, or riparian.


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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the most common tree in Wisconsin?

Aspen trees occupy almost 18% of the tree population in Wisconsin, around 2.7 million acres of forest land, making them the most common tree in the state. One of which is Quaking Aspen.

It belongs to the fast-growing trees in Wisconsin that show off their beauty in fall, displaying golden yellow foliage to the landscape. Besides Aspen, maple and birch trees also dominate the population, marking 2.3 million acres or around 14%.

What planting zone is Wisconsin?

Before planting a tree in Wisconsin, you have to know the state’s planting zone. Wisconsin has three US hardiness zones: zone 3, zone 4, and zone 5. These three planting zones belong to the cold hardiness areas. Zone 3 (-30 to -40’C) covers Northwestern Wisconsin, while zone 4 (-20 to -34’C) includes North, Central, and Westerns Wisconsin.

In addition, Southern, Eastern, up past Green Bay, and Apostle Islands fall under zone 5 (-10 to -26.1’C).

When is the best time to plant trees in Wisconsin?

Early spring is the best season to plant trees in Wisconsin as it is the last frost when the icy ground starts to melt. The soil also begins to warm up, ready to bring plants to live again. In addition to spring, some experts say that planting a tree in the fall also works great as long as the temperature does not fall below 60’F.

What is the fastest-growing tree in Wisconsin?

Oak trees and Tulip trees are the two fast-growing trees that thrive well in Wisconsin. Depending on the cultivars, an oak tree can grow up to 80 feet tall with a growth rate of 1-3 feet per year.

Meanwhile, the tulip trees grow 24 inches per year, reaching 70 – 90 feet tall with 40 feet in width at its maturity. As for trees for privacy, you can try planting Eastern White Pine that grows up to 80 feet tall that will perfectly fence your home garden.

What are the best hardwood trees in Wisconsin?

Some of the best hardwood trees for Wisconsin are Aspen, Ash, Cedar, and Fir. The Aspen, like Quaking Aspen, features fantastic yellow foliage that will adorn the landscape in the autumn, while Ash trees produce birds’ favorite berries. Furthermore, wildlife feed on the fruits, cones, and leaves of Eastern Red Cedar. In addition, Fir provides a comfy shelter for them.

Can you grow a nectarine tree in Wisconsin?

Despite thriving in the US hardiness zone 5 to 9, nectarines are not the best trees for Wisconsin, given the extremely cold temperatures. Most are also not disease-resistant trees, making them even more tricky to plant. But don’t worry! You can try planting a tree, like crabapples, pears, and stone fruits that adapt well to the Wisconsin winter. 

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