Urban tree guide

Kelowna hardiness zone

Most of Kelowna is located in a 6a plant hardiness zone and can support a wide variety of ornamental and native plants. Winter temperatures become cooler farther away from the influence of the lake and at higher elevations.

Plant hardiness

A classification of 6a means that plants can withstand a minimum temperature of -23 °C. If you have any questions about the plants you want, we recommend that you consult your local nursery to make sure that a plant is hardy in your area. 

Choosing trees

Choosing the right tree for the right location is the most critical step in landscaping in order to avoid problems later on. In the following lists are some suggested tree species and tree planting tips. 

Site considerations

Attributes: Some species are messy (dropping fruit, leaves, pods) or prone to suckering, pest infestations, wind damage, and require higher levels of maintenance. Is the species slow or fast growing?

Climate: The species must be adapted to local hardiness zones. Also consider microclimatic factors: elevation, aspect, topography and wind/sun exposure.

Disturbance: Is the site prone to air pollution, vandalism, mechanical damage, road salts, high winds? Will staking or protective barriers be necessary until the tree is established?

Diversity: Avoid planting mono cultures or species that are already heavily used in nearby areas. Diversity can help to reduce pest problems.

Form and function: Is the tree intended for shade, screening, seasonal colour; what is the appropriate size or shape of the mature crown?

Location: Ample space must be available for the tree when it is fully mature to avoid conflicts with pedestrians, buildings, other trees, overhead or underground utility wires, or sidewalk damage. Root barriers may be necessary to avoid lifting of sidewalks or driveways.

Soil: What is the soil texture (clay/silt/sand/loam), pH, organic matter, and levels of compaction? In general, soils in Glenmore tend to be heavy clay; soils in Rutland tend to be rocky and well drained; soils in the Mission area tend to be sandy (sloped areas) or boggy (flat areas).

Sunlight: Is the site exposed to full sun, partial shading, full shade?

Water: Consider the level of the ground water table, soil drainage, presence or absence of irrigation, topography (affecting drainage and available water), amount of soil available (especially for small spaces), and expected competition with other trees, grass or plants for water.

Tree Selection

Some of the more popular trees to plant include Acer ginnala, Acer platanoides, Acer rubrum, Aesculus x carnea, Amelanchier arborea, Carpinus betulus, Carpinus caroliniana, Celtis occidentalis, Cercidiphyllum japonicum, Cladrastis lutea, Fagus sylvatica, Franklinia altamaha, Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Ginkgo biloba, Gleditsia triacanthos, Kolreuteria paniculata, Magnolia heptapeta, Magnolia soulangiana, Morus alba, Ostrya virginiana, Parrotia persica, Phellodendron amurense, Platanus acerifolia, Populus tremula 'Erecta', Pyrus calleryana, Quercus coccinea, Quercus palustris

Quercus robur, Quercus rubra, Quercus shumardi, Robinia pseudoacacia, Sophora japonica, Stewartia pseudocamillia, Styrax japonicum, Syringa reticulate, Tilia spp., Ulmus parvifolia and Zelkova serrata.

Columnar or fastigiate trees

Columnar or fastigiate trees

These trees have an upright form and are suitable for confined locations or in planting strips offset from overhead utility lines. The most popular include Armstrong red maple, Columnar Norway maple

Upright red maple, European Hornbeam, Fastigiate beech, Swedish columnar poplar, English oak, Chancellor linden and Pyramidal American linden.



Here is a partial list of conifers that may work well for certain landscapes. However, they are not suitable for most boulevard plantings. White fir, Yellow cedar, Dawn redwood, Norway spruce, White spruce, Blue spruce, Western white pine, Eastern white pine, Austrian pine, Ponderosa pine, Scotch pine, Interior Douglas fir, and Western red cedar.

Large trees

Large trees

These are suitable for larger planting sites with no overhead obstructions and planting strips which are at least 2.5 metres wide. Suggested minimum spacing is 13-16 metres. Norway maple, Common hackberry, Katsura tree, Hardy rubber tree, European beech, White ash, Blue ash, Green ash, Maidenhair tree, Kentucky coffeetree, American sweetgum, Cork tree, London plane, White oak, Scarlet oak, Bur oak, Pin oak, English oak, Red oak, Shumard oak, Black locust, Japanese stewartia, American linden, Littleleaf European linden, and Japanese zelkova.

Medium trees

Medium trees

When mature, these trees are between 9 and 15 metres tall and generally require a planting strip at least 1.5 metres or greater. Suggested minimum spacing is 10 – 15 metres.  Sensation boxelder, Red maple, Sycamore maple, Ruby horse chestnut, European hornbeam, American hornbeam, Thornless honeylocust, Carolina silverbell*, Goldenrain tree, White mulberry, Black gum (Tupelo), American hop- hornbeam or Ironwood, Callery pear, Silver linden and Chinese elm. *Indicates trees that are not as well tested in the Kelowna area but appear promising based upon reports from elsewhere. May be difficult to find.

Small trees

Small trees

These trees are suitable for locations underneath utility lines. The planting strip should be at least one metre wide. Most small trees tend to become very shrubby or bushy unless pruned to maintain a single trunk or “tree form”. Trident maple*, Hedge maple*, Snakebark maple*, Tatarian maple, Amur maple, Paperbark maple, Globe Norway maple, Serviceberry, American hornbeam*, Eastern redbud, Kousa dogwood*, Hawthorn, Amur maackia*, Saucer magnolia*, Star magnolia, Persian parrotia*, and Japanese tree lilac.

Trees to avoid

Trees to avoid

These trees may work well in certain situations but are generally less desirable for landscape planting because they attract bugs, are weak-wooded or are messy (seed pods, flowers, leaves). Acer negundo,

Ailanthus altissima, Betula species, Catalpa spp., Chamaecyparis lawsoniana, Populus species, Ulmus pumila, Prunus and Malus, Salix species and Sorbus species.

Tree planting tips