Top 3 Tree Species to Plant in Abilene, TX and Why They Thrive Here

Planting trees in Abilene, TX? Here's a guide from a local tree service expert on the top 3 tree species that flourish in the Abilene climate, offering beauty, shade, and resilience.

3/9/20245 min read

green tree on green grass field during sunset
green tree on green grass field during sunset

Top 3 Tree Species to Plant in Abilene, TX and Why They Thrive Here

As a tree service professional with years of experience working in Abilene Tree Service, I've witnessed firsthand the beauty and diversity of trees that thrive in our unique climate. Abilene's hot, dry summers and mild winters present specific challenges for some trees, but many species flourish in this environment.

If you're looking to add some greenery and shade to your Abilene property, choosing the right tree species is crucial. Here, I'll highlight the top 3 tree choices that are not only stunning additions to your landscape but are also well-suited to Abilene's specific climate:

1. Texas Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis)

The Texas Redbud is a true Texas native, perfectly adapted to the state's diverse climate zones, including the Rolling Plains region where Abilene sits. This small- to medium-sized tree offers a dazzling display of beauty throughout the year.

  • Spring Spectacle: In early spring, even before the leaves appear, the Texas Redbud erupts in a breathtaking display of vibrant magenta blossoms. These blooms transform your landscape into a magical scene, making it a true showstopper.

  • Summer Shade: Once the flowers fade, glossy green leaves emerge, providing welcome shade during the hot summer months. The leaves filter sunlight, creating a cool and inviting space under the tree's canopy.

  • Adaptable and Low-Maintenance: The Texas Redbud thrives in full sun to partial shade and requires minimal watering once established. It's tolerant of Abilene's dry summers and clay soil, making it a low-maintenance choice.

  • Fall Foliage: While not as flamboyant as some trees, the Texas Redbud offers a subtle but charming display of yellow fall foliage before gracefully shedding its leaves for winter.

  • Attracts Pollinators: The vibrant blooms attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators, adding to the ecological value of this beautiful tree.

2. Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa)

The Honey Mesquite is another excellent choice for Abilene landscapes. This native Texas tree embodies resilience and thrives in the state's hot, dry conditions.

  • Drought-Tolerant Champion: The Honey Mesquite is a champion of drought tolerance. Its deep root system allows it to access water reserves deep underground, making it ideal for Abilene's dry summers.

  • Fast-Growing and Adaptable: This fast-growing tree adapts well to various soil types, including the clay soils common in Abilene. It tolerates both full sun and partial shade, making it versatile for different planting locations.

  • Provides Valuable Shade: As the Honey Mesquite matures, it develops a sprawling, asymmetrical canopy that offers generous shade. This is a valuable asset in Abilene's hot summers, helping to cool your property and reduce energy costs.

  • Year-Round Interest: The Honey Mesquite offers year-round beauty. In spring, it produces fragrant yellow flowers. During summer, the tree showcases its distinctive feathery foliage. In fall, the leaves transform into a vibrant golden hue before dropping, revealing the intricate network of branches in winter.

  • Supports Local Wildlife: The Honey Mesquite provides food and shelter for a variety of wildlife. Birds favor its seed pods, while butterflies and other pollinators enjoy its nectar-rich flowers.

3. Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia)

The Cedar Elm is a majestic native tree that brings elegance and resilience to Abilene landscapes. While susceptible to some diseases, with proper care, it can be a valuable addition to your property.

  • Fast-Growing and Majestic: The Cedar Elm is a fast-growing tree that reaches impressive heights, offering a sense of grandeur and maturity to your landscape. Its broad, vase-shaped canopy provides ample shade during the hot summer months.

  • Adaptable to Local Conditions: This adaptable tree thrives in full sun and tolerates Abilene's dry climate and clay soils. However, it does require moderate watering, especially during its first few years after planting.

  • Beautiful Foliage: The Cedar Elm boasts attractive, glossy green leaves that provide a beautiful contrast against other vegetation. In fall, the leaves transform into a captivating display of golden yellow before gracefully falling.

  • Wildlife Habitat: The Cedar Elm offers shelter and food for a variety of wildlife. Birds favor its branches for nesting, while squirrels and other small mammals enjoy the abundant foliage and shade.

Important Note

While the Cedar Elm is a beautiful and resilient tree, it is susceptible to Dutch Elm Disease, a devastating fungal disease that has decimated American Elm populations across North America. However, the Cedar Elm exhibits a higher level of resistance compared to other elm species. With proper care and monitoring, you can significantly reduce the risk of your Cedar Elm contracting the disease. Here are some tips:

  • Choose disease-resistant cultivars: When selecting a Cedar Elm, opt for cultivars known for their higher resistance to Dutch Elm Disease, such as 'Homestead' or 'Valley Green.'

  • Maintain good tree health: Healthy trees are better equipped to fight off disease. Provide proper watering, fertilization, and pruning to keep your Cedar Elm strong and vigorous.

  • Monitor for signs of disease: Be vigilant and inspect your Cedar Elm regularly for signs of Dutch Elm Disease, such as wilting, yellowing, or browning of leaves on one side of the tree. Early detection is crucial for effective treatment.

  • Seek professional help: If you suspect your Cedar Elm might be infected with Dutch Elm Disease, contact a certified arborist immediately. They can diagnose the problem and recommend the most appropriate course of action.

Beyond our Top 3:

These three tree species are just a starting point. Many other beautiful and resilient trees thrive in Abilene's climate. Here are some additional factors to consider when choosing a tree:

  • Mature size: Consider the mature size of the tree and choose one that will be appropriate for the available space in your landscape.

  • Sun exposure: Select a tree that thrives in the amount of sunlight the planting location receives (full sun, partial shade, or full shade).

  • Soil conditions: Different trees have varying soil preferences. Opt for a tree that suits your soil type (clay, sandy, etc.).

  • Aesthetics: Consider the overall aesthetics you desire. Do you want a flowering tree, a shade tree, or a tree with interesting foliage?

Planting and Care Tips

Once you've chosen the perfect tree for your Abilene property, here are some essential planting and care tips:

  • Planting time: The ideal time to plant trees in Abilene is typically late fall to early spring when temperatures are cooler and rainfall is more frequent.

  • Proper planting technique: Dig a planting hole that is 2-3 times wider than the root ball and just as deep. Carefully loosen the root ball and position the tree at the proper depth (the root flare should be slightly above the soil line). Backfill the hole with amended soil and water thoroughly.

  • Watering: Water your newly planted tree regularly, especially during its first few years, to help it establish a strong root system. Once established, most of the trees mentioned above are drought-tolerant and require minimal supplemental watering.

  • Pruning: Regular pruning can help shape your tree, improve air circulation, and promote healthy growth. However, it's best to leave major pruning to a certified arborist for proper technique and safety.


By selecting a tree species well-suited to Abilene's climate and following proper planting and care practices, you can add beauty, shade, and ecological value to your property. These top 3 choices – the Texas Redbud, Honey Mesquite, and Cedar Elm (with proper disease management) – are excellent starting points for your Abilene landscape. Remember, consulting with a local arborist can provide invaluable advice and ensure you choose the perfect tree for your specific needs and location. Happy planting!