16 Popular USDA Zone 8 Trees to Consider Planting Today

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Written By Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

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Home » USDA Zone 8 » 16 Popular USDA Zone 8 Trees to Consider Planting Today

Appearing in a significant portion of the southeast and sporadically along the west coast, USDA hardiness zone 8 is one of the hottest temperature zones in the United States.

With average winter temperatures ranging from 10 to 20 degrees F, its growing season is long and frost periods are minimal, lasting only a few weeks at a time.

As a result, gardeners residing in zone 8 need to rely on largely heat-tolerant plants and trees to enliven their properties. While this zone isn’t hot enough for tropical trees and is too hot for many classic landscaping options, there are still plenty of gorgeous trees that will thrive here.

Keep reading for sixteen of the most popular zone 8 trees for your property.

16 Common Trees for Zone 8 Landscapes

1. Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)

Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) Tree, Foliage and Pine Cones
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees, combined by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

The largest native conifer in the east is the Eastern White Pine, a rounded, pyramidal pine tree with great value in both landscaping and as a timber tree. In maturity, it is admired for its straight trunk, layered branching, and soft blue-green foliage which add elegance to your landscape. Its bark also becomes more ridged and fissured as it ages, providing further visual interest.

This long-lived, fast-growing pine has a number of uses, primarily as a specimen, focal point, shade tree, or privacy screen. It also provides food and shelter to local wildlife. The wood of the Eastern White Pine is valuable in its own right, used in construction and woodworking due to its light, malleable, and durable timber.

Plant the Eastern White Pine in moist, well-draining sandy, or loamy soil in a location with full sun exposure.

Other Common Names: Northern White Pine, Soft Pine, North American White Pine, White Pine, Weymouth Pine

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 50-80 feet tall, with a 20-40 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Early Fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

2. Leyland Cypress (Cupressocyparis x leylandii)

Leyland Cypress (Cupressus × leylandii) Trees and Foliage
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees, combined by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

One of the most popular trees for use as fences, hedges, and as a privacy tree, the Leyland Cypress is a horticultural treasure. It is a fast-growing hybrid cross between the Monterey cypress and and Nootka false cypress and has a conical shape consisting of long slender branches and dense gray-green foliage.

While it grows in a neat, uniform shape without pruning, it will take remarkably well to aggressive pruning which makes it an ideal candidate for shearing into blocks as a neat hedge or screen. Full sun, adequate watering, and well-draining soil are all necessary for optimal growth.

But the Leyland Cypress is not without its flaws. Due to its susceptibility to a number of pests and diseases such as cankers, needle blight, and bagworm, some are now advising against planting these trees due to the difficulty of treating and maintaining infected specimens. It is worth doing further research to gauge if the Leyland is the right choice for your property.

Other Common Names: Leylandii

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 60-70 feet tall, with a 15-20 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Winter

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

3. Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

Image by Nicholas_T via Flickr

A truly unique deciduous native, the Sassafras tree has oodles of personality and interesting features. First are its large leaves, which grow in three different shapes and have a sweet, slightly spicy fragrance. The leaves have a history of use in Native American medicine and as a flavoring in many recipes and beverages.

The tree itself has deeply furrowed reddish-brown bark and produces showy yellow blooms in spring followed by dark blue fruits that local birds will love. One of its most attractive features is its fall foliage, which stuns in shades of orange, yellow, red, and purple.

The Sassafras is best used as a specimen tree, an informal grouping, or as a privacy screen or hedge. It typically does not suffer serious pest or disease problems, but it does have a habit of suckering, so suckers will need to be removed if you prefer a single-trunk tree.

Plant in deep, moist, well-draining soil with an acidic pH in full sun or partial shade.

Other Common Names: White Sassafras, Red Sassafras, Silky Sassafras, Ague Tree, Mitten Tree, Root Beer Tree

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 30-60 feet tall, with a 25-40 foot spread

Flowering Season: Mid to Late Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

4. Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)

Honey Locust Tree
Image by Jean Jones via Flickr (‘Sunburst’ cultivar)

Another lovely native for zone 8 planting is the Honey Locust, a medium-sized tree that grows wild in the pastures and bottomlands of the central US.

In landscape gardening, it is notable for its fast growth rate and soft, fluttering compound foliage that looks graceful in the landscape and casts dappled shade. It produces delicate white flowers in spring and has bright yellow fall foliage.

Use the Honey Locust as a shade tree or grow it in rows lining a driveway or street. Plant it in deep, moist, well-draining soil, and take care to avoid growing in areas with salt, alkaline pH levels, and a propensity for drought.

The long, sharp thorns that grow all over its trunk and branches can be a major turnoff, but don’t let them dissuade you – thornless Honey Locust cultivars are relatively easy to find.

It can also be invasive outside of its native range, so be sure to check the status of this tree in your region before planting.

Other Common Names: Thorny Locust, Thorny Honeylocust, Sweet Locust

Growing Zones: 3-7

Average Size at Maturity: 30-75 feet tall, with a 50-foot spread

Flowering Season: Late Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

5. American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)

American Beech Tree
Image by Wendell Smith via Flickr

Found throughout the Eastern United States, the American Beech is a beloved native often used in both public and private landscaping.

This sturdy tree has an upright form with a rounded, spreading crown, smooth gray bark, and glossy foliage that turns a handsome golden-bronze color in fall. It can grow up to 80 feet in optimal conditions and is quite wide too, so make sure you have enough space in your landscape to accommodate it.

Its graceful form is a common sight in parks and golf courses, and in home landscaping it is often used as a specimen, shade tree, or in informal groupings. It is beneficial to local wildlife too, providing shelter with its strong, spreading branches and sustenance with its triangular beech nuts.

Plant the American Beech in deep, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH (between 5 to 6.5 is ideal according to the University of Kentucky Extension) in a spot with full sun to partial shade.

Other Common Names: White Beech, Ridge Beech, Beechnut Tree, North American Beech

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 50-80 feet tall, with a 40-60 foot spread

Flowering Season: Early Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

6. Japanese Lilac (Syringa reticulata)

Japanese Tree Lilac - Grid 2 Square
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

A large lilac tree, the Japanese Lilac makes an attractive specimen in the landscape with its oval, rounded crown, reddish-brown textured bark, and dark green leaves.

The real show starts when the Japanese Lilac is decorated with dense, sizeable panicles of creamy white flowers. They have a lovely lilac fragrance and bloom in very late spring or very early summer, right after other spring flowers die down and before the summer displays start.

The Japanese Lilac makes a lovely specimen, backdrop, shade tree, and as an addition to foundation planting and mixed borders. It can also be used en masse as a privacy screen or to line streets and driveways.

Plant this tree in loose, moist, well-draining soil. Full sun is needed for optimal flower production and to reduce any risks of pest and disease issues. It is highly tolerant of air pollution and will need very little pruning.

Other Common Names: Japanese Tree Lilac

Growing Zones: 3-7

Average Size at Maturity: 20-25 feet tall, with a 15-25 foot spread

Flowering Season: Late Spring – Early Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

7. Bitternut Hickory (Carya cordiformis)

Bitternut Hickory Tree
Image via Nature Hills

A large native nut tree, the Bitternut Hickory makes a gorgeous ornamental for gardeners who have the space for it. It is a tall, stately tree with a broad, rounded crown, graceful pinnate leaves (similar to a walnut tree), and gorgeous yellow fall foliage that will light up your landscape for months.

While it is one of the most beautiful and ornamental native hickory trees, its nuts are the least appealing. While Bitternut Hickory nuts are technically edible they have a very bitter taste, hence the name. It should not be grown as a food source, but instead used as an effective shade tree, focal point, or wildlife tree as it provides both food and shelter to local birds and mammals.

The Bitternut Hickory has considerable pest and disease tolerance and will thrive in rich, moist, well-draining soil. According to the USDA Government Website, it is the shortest-lived of all hickory types, reaching an average of 200 years old.

Other Common Names: Bitter Hickory, White Hickory, Bitter Pecan, Red Pecan, Swamp Hickory, Pig Hickory

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 50-80 feet tall, with a 30-50 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Fall

Available at: Nature Hills

8. Lacebark Elm (Ulmus parvifolia)

Not to be confused with the invasive Siberian Elm, the Lacebark Elm is a helpful and hardy specimen that acts as a versatile landscaping tree. When combined its rounded crown, lustrous leaves, and distinctive mottled bark will add visual interest to your property all year round.

But its looks aren’t the best thing the Lacebark has to offer – that would be its exceptionally tough, rugged nature. It will tolerate many different soil types and conditions, as well as drought, salt, and air pollution. Best of all it is highly tolerant to Dutch Elm Disease, the bane of most other elm species.

Use the Lacebark Elm as a specimen, shade tree, or street tree. For best results plant in well-draining soil with full sun to partial shade, in a sheltered location to protect it from strong winds.

Other Common Names: Drake Elm, Chinese Elm

Growing Zones: 5-10

Average Size at Maturity: 60-70 feet tall, with a 40-50 foot spread

Flowering Season: Late Spring to Fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

9. Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

Red Maple
Image via Nature Hills

One of the most famous and beloved types of maple trees, the Red Maple is guaranteed to be a star on your zone 8 property. It has a beautifully balanced form with a single straight trunk and an even, upright branching structure. Its trunk is furrowed and its dark green leaves are the typical lobed maple shape.

The really distinctive feature of the red maple appears in fall when its leaves turn a flush of brilliant red shades – everything from deep scarlet to bright orange-reds and yellows. It’s hard to beat a red maple in the fall season. The Red Maple is also notable for being one of the fastest-growing trees in the eastern United States.

This tree can make an easy focal point, specimen, or street tree, but it is even more breathtaking grown in groups. You can plant them in a row to form a stunning privacy screen or in a loose cluster to make a private woodland grove.

Other Common Names: Swamp Maple, Water Maple, Soft Maple

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 40-70 feet tall, with a 30-50 foot spread

Flowering Season: Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

10. Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara)

Deodar cedar
Image by David Prasad via Flickr

With their graceful, pendulous branches and soft, richly-colored evergreen foliage, the Deodar Cedar makes a lovely addition to your property, providing color and texture to your surroundings at every time of the year.

This heat-tolerant plant is exotic too, native to the Himalayas, and able to grow well in zones 7 to 11, ie. the hottest areas in the US. It’s a winning choice for zone 8 gardeners.

A few things to consider before planting the Deodar – this cedar needs a decent amount of space on your property, and it can also make a considerable mess when dropping its needles. Be sure to scout out a large site some distance from any paved areas on your property.

This particular type of Cedar tree can be used in a number of ways in the landscape: as a specimen, accent, hedge, or privacy screen, amongst other uses. It can grow in a wide range of soil types, just make sure the soil is well-draining.

Other Common Names: Himalayan Cedar

Growing Zones: 7-11

Average Size at Maturity: 40-50 feet tall, with a 20-30 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

11. Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)

Coast Redwood Trees
Image by Jan Helebrant via Flickr

As the tallest tree in the world, the Coast Redwood is not going to be for every zone 8 gardener – in many cases, it will simply be too large to manage. But for property owners with a sizable portion of land, a love for native flora, and a desire to establish an incredible legacy woodland, the Coast Redwood is what you’re looking for.

These giants of the forest can live for up to 2000 years. They grow very fast, up to 3 feet per year, and have an enormous flared trunk, dense branching, a conical growth habit, and reddish-brown, furrowed bark.

They are almost entirely free of pest and disease issues, grow easily in their native southwestern range, and make a decent shade tree. Plant the Coast Redwood in deep, rich, moist, well-draining soil for best results. Dry soil should be avoided.

Other Common Names: Coastal Redwood, California Redwood, Coastal Sequoia

Growing Zones: 7-9

Average Size at Maturity: 60-200 feet tall, 15-25 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

12. Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Another gentle giant for zone 8 landscapes is the Tulip Poplar, one of the tallest native hardwood trees in the US. This beautiful tree, part of the magnolia family (not related to tulips or poplar trees!), can reach up to 130 feet tall, with a tall and straight trunk that lacks lower branches.

Along with its rounded oval crown, large bright green leaves and signature tulip-shaped green, orange, and yellow flowers the tulip poplar has a very striking effect on any landscape.

The Tulip Poplar provides beautiful dappled shade, and looks fabulous lining streets and driveways – you’ll often see it planted along boulevards and on university campuses. They are also very attractive to wildlife, particularly as shelter for local birds.

Plant this tree in loose, moist, well-draining soil with plenty of space to grow and spread. It will thrive in full sun.

Other Common Names: Tulip Poplar, Tuliptree, Yellow Poplar, Canoewood, Lyre Tree, Canary Whitehood, Western Poplar, Whitewood, North American Whitewood, Fiddletree, Hickory-Poplar, Lynn-Tree, Saddle Tree

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 70-130 feet tall, with a 30-60 foot spread

Flowering Season: Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

13. Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)

Southern Live Oak - Grid 2 Square
Images via Nature Hills and Lyrae Wills

An enduring symbol of the American South, the Southern Live Oak was once synonymous with southern plantations, but today it is used in all sorts of landscapes – providing they are in the right climate. This oak tree has a limited temperature range, hardy to zones 8 to 10, making it perfect for zone 8 gardeners.

With its rounded, wide-spreading crown and thick graceful limbs that can stretch even wider than the tree is tall, interested gardeners will need plenty of space to accommodate the Southern Live Oak.

Draped in Spanish moss and adorned with shiny green leaves, it adds an ethereal, mysterious quality to the landscape. It is well used as a specimen or shade tree.

This oak species is fairly tough and adaptable, able to withstand wind, salt spray, and flooding. It can grow in wet, alkaline soil, but it does have a preference for moist, acidic, well-draining soil with as much exposure to direct sunlight as possible.

Other Common Names: Live Oak, Bay Live Oak, Plateau Oak, Scrub Oak

Growing Zones: 8-10

Average Size at Maturity: 40-80 feet tall, with a 30-100 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

14. Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Eastern Red Cedar
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

Another gorgeous evergreen to add to your zone 8 property is the Eastern Red Cedar, a conifer native to the eastern United States. It is best known for its incredibly tough, durable nature, which allows it to grow in environments where most trees would quickly perish.

Barren soil, salty soil, rocky soil, long periods of drought, heavy pollution? With a few notable exceptions, the Eastern Red Cedar can grow in all of it.

And it’s not just a tough personality, the Eastern Red Cedar is attractive in its own right! It has shredded reddish-brown bark, blue-green evergreen foliage, and blue cones that mature in fall and last through winter.

This conifer provides four seasons of interest and can be used as a specimen plant, to line driveways, or as a privacy screen, windbreak, or shelterbelt.

Plant the Eastern Red Cedar in well-draining soil with full sun exposure. Consistently wet soil and too much shade in maturity will stunt the tree.

Other Common Names: Eastern Redcedar

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 feet tall, with a 10-20 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Fall to Winter

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

15. Yoshino Flowering Cherry (Prunus x yedoensis)

Yoshino Cherry Tree flowering
Image by Bernard Spragg, NZ via Flickr

Truly one of the most beautiful and universally adored flowering trees, the Yoshino Flowering Cherry is an incredible specimen for any landscape where it is able to grow.

Thankfully, zone 8 is right at the end of the Yoshino’s growing range. The Yoshino has a wide-spreading form with weeping branches that come alive in spring with profuse clusters of pale pink and white blossoms.

For several weeks this cherry tree species will be the prize of your landscape, grabbing the attention of everyone who sees it. Its dark, dense leaves and gray-black bark will also provide significant appeal in every other season of the year.

While the chance to plant a Yoshino is an enticing one, gardeners should know that this tree is relatively high maintenance compared to many other flowering trees.

It needs to be constantly monitored for signs of pest and disease and to be pruned in a specific way to establish its beautiful form and allow light to reach the trunk.

Other Common Names: Yoshino Flowering Cherry, Japanese Flowering Cherry, Potomac Cherry, Tokyo Cherry

Growing Zones: 5 to 8

Average Size at Maturity: 30 to 50 feet

Flowering Season: March and April, for 2-3 weeks

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

16. Hollywood Juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Torulosa’)

Hollywood Juniper trees
Image via Nature Hills

A truly artistic evergreen, the Hollywood juniper is a cultivar that will add sophistication and consistent color to your home garden.

This shrubby specimen has an upright habit with swirling, tufted foliage and twisted branches that create a sculptural effect in the landscape. Some landscapers have compared its mature shape to a flame, and it is often used in Japanese-style gardens.

According to the NC State Extension, it is not worth using as a screen or hedge, unlike most juniper species, due to its irregular form. However, it can be used well as a specimen, accent, and even as a bonsai tree.

The Hollywood Juniper grows well in coastal areas due to its natural tolerance to heat and salt spray. It rarely suffers any significant pest and disease issues, though poor-draining soil can result in blight and root rot. Otherwise, it is not fussy about pH levels or soil quality.

Growing Zones: 4-8

Average Size at Maturity: 10-15 feet tall, with a 6-15 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Winter

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

Popular Landscaping Trees For Your Property

Choosing the right trees for your growing zone is easy – you only need to know the lowest temperatures they will tolerate. If a tree can thrive in temperatures that remain consistently above 10 degrees through the year, it will be able to grow in hardiness zone 8.

As you can see, the selection of trees above are excellent examples of useful and attractive landscaping trees that will suit the long summers and mild winters of zone 8.

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Photo of author

Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

Shannon has always loved looking after trees and plants since as long as she can remember. She grew up gardening with her family in their off-grid home and looking after her neighbor's plant nursery. As a child she also participated in native tree replanting, and as an adult has volunteered in reforestation programs in northern Vietnam. Today, she puts her horticultural efforts into tending her vegetable and herb gardens, and learning about homesteading and permaculture. When she’s not reading, writing, and gardening, she’ll be out fishing and foraging for edible flora and fungi in the countryside around her home.

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