Best Trees to Plant in Illinois

A tree is an integral part of every yard, adding value by providing shade, improving the environment with its life-giving oxygen, and giving fruit for eating or birds for watching. When choosing which trees are right for planting in Illinois it’s important to be familiar with what types of trees can grow well here. Choosing one that won’t thrive will be a waste of time and money. Let’s look at the best trees to plant in Illinois.

Best Trees to Plant in Illinois: What to Look for in an Illinois Tree

Best Trees to Plant in Illinois

One of the most common mistakes people make is planting trees too small to survive Illinois winters. When winter comes those little suckers just don’t have what it takes to stay upright and certainly don’t have the strength to create a deep enough root system to survive.

What you want is a sturdy, well-developed tree from the get-go. If planting trees in Illinois, select those that are identified as top performers for this region, such as Ash, Basswood, Buckeye, Bur Oak, Butternut Hickory, Katsura Tree, Kentucky Coffeetree, Red Maple, River Birch, and Black Walnut.

Best Trees to Plant in Il

Choosing the best trees for planting in Illinois also depends on what flavor of tree you’re looking for. Are you trying to fill your space with something that makes a statement year-round? You’ll want to look at flowering trees to give you the best-looking colors throughout the harsh winter months. Many of these trees are small and work well for beginners, too.

Flowering Dogwood

Best Trees to Plant in Illinois

Flowering Dogwood is one of the most beautiful ornamental trees available anywhere around, thriving in USDA growing zones 4 to 8. It’s known for its showy white flowers that bloom in the spring, covering every inch of the tree with a blanket of color. The leaves change to beautiful shades of red and orange during the fall months.

The dogwood is another favorite ornamental tree of many, especially for its colorful blossoms that appear in the spring. It’s available in white, pink, or red shades, making it easy to customize your landscape with whatever color fits your fancy.

Crape Myrtle

The Crape Myrtle is another great choice for planting in Illinois this year. It’s known for its gorgeous blooms of pink, purple, red, or white. Some trees are even multicolored with a combination of two colors. It’s also drought-tolerant and heat-resistant, making it easy to care for throughout its life.


The Redbud is one of the most beautiful trees in existence, with stunningly bright pink blooms appearing before its leaves. It’s known for holding its shade canopy over smaller plants and flowers, making it one of the best trees to plant in Illinois understory gardens.

Flowering Crabapple

Best Trees to Plant in Illinois

The Flowering Crabapple is a small ornamental tree with beautiful blossoms of white, pink, red, or yellow that appear in the spring. It’s adaptable to just about every soil type and thrives in any USDA growing zone, flourishing year after year.


The Chokecherry is another great ornamental tree for its intense fall color of orange, burgundy, red or yellow. It’s a small tree with a narrow shape that works well as a tree border. The Chokecherry is just one of the best trees to plant in Illinois to grow near a deck or patio for easy access and breathtaking views.


The Katsura Tree is known for its stunning yellow fall color, but it’s also prized for its unique and interesting shape. It’s a small tree that works well in just about any landscape and can even be used as a flowering tree to add interest during spring months.

Kentuck Coffeetree

The Kentucky Coffeetree is one of the largest trees in existence, but it still behaves like a smaller plant when planted in the right area. Enjoy its beautiful burgundy foliage in the spring and unique seed pods that appear during the summer months.

Red Maple

The Red Maple is one of the best-known street trees throughout North America for its bright red foliage and fast growth rate. It’s available in a wide range of sizes and shapes, making it perfect for just about any landscape.

River Birch

The River Birch is another medium-sized ornamental tree with gorgeous white bark that peels away to reveal striking pink inner layers. Its leaves are unique with twisted shapes that are highly recognizable. The River Birch is perfect for planting near flower beds or surrounding smaller plants to give off just a little more shade throughout the day.

The Japanese Lilac Tree

This tree is one of the best trees to plant in Illinois because it’s known for its exceptional floral fragrance. Even after spending time around the lilac, the sweet aroma stays on your clothes and sticks around for a long time. No wonder it’s such a popular choice!

Best Time to Plant a Tree in Illinois

When you’re planting a tree in Illinois, now is the time to do it. The best time depends on what type you plan to plant and where, but late fall or early spring are generally the best windows.

Depending on which trees you choose, they may need a little extra care once planted. You can keep them healthy for years by adding mulch, checking water lines regularly, and making sure they get enough sunlight throughout the day.

And don’t forget! You can keep your tree healthy by getting rid of weeds that may compete for water or nutrients in the soil. Just simply use a weed whacker to trim away any unwanted plants near the tree’s base.

Just remember not to plant a tree too deep and you’ll be on your way to planting a tree in Illinois that will provide countless benefits for years and years.

Best Trees to Plant in Illinois: Conclusion

Whether adding shade to your backyard or providing wildlife habitat in your garden, trees are one of the best plants you can add to any landscape. Check out your local nursery today for more information on specific tree types and how to plant them in Illinois.