Top Columnar Trees to Plant in Alberta

Top Columnar Trees to Plant in Alberta

Columnar trees are a great way to add height to a garden space, without dealing with the canopy coverage that comes with planting trees. They can add a pillar-shaped element to space, and serves as a nice backdrop to help accentuate other feature plants. Additionally, columnar trees can serve as a windblock, sound block, and a privacy screen in smaller yards where space is limited. Below is a list of some popular columnar trees, and some attributes. Columnar trees are defined as trees that spread less than 20 feet overall.

parkland pillar birch1) Betula platyphylla ‘Jefpark’  Parkland Pillar Birch
Birch prefers a moist, but well-drained soil overall. Mulching at the base of the tree can help
to retain additional moisture, as well as keep the root system cool overall. It is a medium to
fast-growing species, achieving an overall height of 30 feet, by a 6-foot spread. Leaves will
emerge a dark green through the summer, turning golden yellow in the fall. Grey/white bark
adds some interesting during the winter months.

Prarie Skyrise Trembling Aspen

2) Populus tremuloides ‘Prairie Skyrise’  Prarie Skyrise Trembling Aspen
Aspens are a very tough and hardy selection for Alberta, as well as a fast-growing species.
Prarie Skyrise is a selection known for its dense and compact nature. Aspens prefer moist,
well-drained soil, and are tolerant of many different and poorer soil types. Overall height
will be between 30 to 35 feet and a spread of 6 feet. Leaves emerge medium green, turning
yellow in the fall. The slightest breeze will move the leaves, so it adds some nice background
noise to any space.


3) Crabapples
Malus x ‘Jefspire’ Purple Spire Columnar Crabapple
The Purple Spire Columnar Crabapple will provide some bright pink flowers first thing in the spring.
The flowers are followed by purple foliage that lasts through the summer and into fall. Red fruits will
develop and persist on the tree through the winter adding winter interest. This tree will grow to a height
of 20 feet and spread up to 8 feet.
Malus x ‘Jefgreen’ Emerald Spire Columnar Crabapple
Similar to the Purple Spire Columnar Crabapple, but tends to stay smaller with a mature height of 15 feet,
and a spread of 6 feet. White flowers that turn pink emerge in the spring, followed by deep green almost
purple foliage. Red fruits will appear through the fall and persist into winter.

Columnar Norway Maple

4) Maples
Acer platanoides ‘Columnare’ Columnar Norway Maple
Norway Maples are tolerant of poor soils and drought conditions, which makes it a great choice for difficult areas. Additionally, it is extremely fast growing. Deep green leaves emerge in the spring and summer, turning a yellow colour in the fall. Green maple keys also develop through the summer. Mature height is 40 feet, with a 12 to 18-foot spread.
Acer platanoides ‘Crimson Sentry’ Columnar Crimson Sentry Maple
Similar to the Columnar Norway Maple in attributes and growth rate, however, the Crimson Sentry will have a
deep red leaf through the summer and into the fall. Mature height of 30 feet, with a 15-foot spread.

oak-regal-prince5) Quercus x warei ‘Long’ REGAL PRINCE Regal Prince Oak
If patience is a quality you have, then this tree is perfect for you. Oaks are generally slower growing than most, but they are well worth the wait. Deep green leaves emerge in spring, which turns brown and often stays on the tree through the winter. Acorns will develop and drop from the tree in the fall. A mature height of 40 to 50 feet, with a spread of 15 feet overall.

Columnar Scotch Pine6) Pinus sylvestris ‘Fastigiata’ Columnar Scotch Pine
The first of our evergreen columnar options, the columnar Scotch pine sports a unique orange coloured bark as it matures adding a lovely contrast against green needles. Very hardy and adaptable to different soils. Overall height of 20 feet with a spread of 6 to 10 feet overall.

Columnar Blue Spruce

7) Picea pungens ‘Fastigiata’ Columnar Blue Spruce
The blue colour of this tree makes it a stand out in any landscape. Can be used as a feature plant, or as a unique backdrop to accent other plants. Spruce is tough and well suited for harsh Alberta winters. Mature height of 20 feet, with a spread of 8 feet.

8) Junipers
Wichita Blue JuniperJuniperus scopulorum ‘Wichita Blue’ Wichita Blue Juniper
Another strikingly blue tree, but with a more soft and feathery texture to it. They also develop blueberries, which add some extra interest through the winter. It is also the fastest growing evergreen option. This particular cultivar will grow to 12 feet, with a 6 to 8-foot spread.

Skyrocket JuniperJuniperus scopulorum ‘Skyrocket’ Skyrocket Juniper
The Skyrocket juniper serves a slightly more compact version of the Wichita blue juniper, as well as having a more silvery green colouration to the needles. The silvery blue berries also add some extra winter interest. Due to its more compact nature, less pruning to maintain shape and form is required. Overall mature height of 10 feet, with a spread of 4 to 6 feet.

Moonglow JuniperJuniperus scopulorum ‘Moonglow’ Moonglow Juniper
The moonglow juniper sports greyish green foliage, and feathery texture. The silvery blue berries also add extra winter interest. Overall height is 16 feet, with a 6 to 8-foot spread.

Brandon Pyramidal Cedar9) Thuja occidentalis ‘Brandon’ Brandon Pyramidal Cedar
The Brandon selection is the hardier selection of the pyramidal cedars, so would be well suited to Alberta winters. Some extra caution needs to be taken to ensure this tree isn’t exposed to high winds during the winter months or any salt spray from nearby roads. A protective covering of burlap during the winter may be needed depending on the spot. It is a fast-growing emerald green coloured tree, with an overall height of 15 to 20 feet, and a spread of 3 to 4 feet.

As always, stop by the nursery to talk to our Horticultural Specialists about how you can incorporate a columnar tree into your landscape. All the varieties listed above are currently in stock in various sizes, waiting to be planted in your garden today!
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