Elm trees can thrive in a variety of climates. Although they can withstand less than ideal growing conditions, it’s best to adhere to recommendations on where to grow them to ensure a well-established, healthy tree.
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Where Do Elm Trees Like To Grow?
According to the USDA’s plant hardiness map, elm trees are hardy from zones 3 to 9. They are well-suited to either full sun or partial shade.
Elm trees do best in well-drained soil. They are drought-tolerant but also appreciate moist soil. If your soil is well-draining and you live in a dry area, make sure to water young trees regularly and add bark mulch to the soil to retain more moisture.
As far as specific planting locations, elm trees can be planted anywhere from your lawn to meadows, woodlands, farmland, and city streets. Although, when planting elm trees on a street, it’s best to plant them away from the sidewalks to avoid cracks and raised areas from the roots pushing the pavement up.
Is Elm Native To the US?
While there are many different species of elm trees that live in the United States, there is only a handful of elms that are native to America. Some of the most common US native elms include:
American Elm (Ulmus americana)
American elm trees hail from Eastern North America, from Florida and Texas all the way up to Nova Scotia and Alberta, Canada. The largest of the elm family, these trees can grow up to 100 feet tall.
American elm trees used to be much more prevalent in their native habitat until Dutch elm disease ravaged the species starting in the 1920s. Scientists believe the deadly fungus was introduced on a shipment of wood from Europe.
Today, researchers are working hard to breed and grow new hybrids of American elms that are resistant to Dutch elm disease.
Cork Elm (Ulmus thomasii)
Also known as the rock elm, cork elm trees are native to the Midwestern United States, mainly. One of the larger varieties of the elm tree family, they can grow close to 100 feet tall and live up to 300 years.
Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)
Slippery elm trees are native to the eastern United States as well as Ontario. These trees have stuck around due to their ability to resist Dutch elm disease.
The slippery elm is best known for its inner bark, which secretes a thick liquid that is used for many medicinal purposes. Slippery elm is said to soothe upset stomachs, sore throat, and more.
Cedar Elm Tree (Ulmus crassifolia)
Cedar elm trees are native to the southern United States, especially Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas. These elms are often found near streams and rivers, or on limestone hills.
Cedar elm trees, often referred to as Texas elms, have flakey bark and brittle wood. They are often sold and used as landscaping trees.
Are There Elm Trees in Canada?
Elm trees are typically found in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, which includes some parts of Canada. There are three species that are native to Canada.
American elm trees are native to the area of Nova Scotia and west through Alberta. They are more commonly known as white elms in Canada.
Slippery elm trees and rock elms are also native to Canada. While all of the native elm trees in Canada have been affected by Dutch elm disease, the American variety has been hit the hardest.
Canadian researchers are working on hybridization studies to find cultivars of elm that are not susceptible to the Dutch elm fungus. They are also implementing programs to distribute disease-resistant trees, although it will be many years until we find out whether these efforts were successful.
How Fast Do Elm Trees Grow?
Elm trees are known for being relatively fast growers. The growth rate range varies among different species of elms, but in general, you can expect them to grow anywhere from 3 to 6 feet per year in ideal growing conditions.
To get the fastest growth from an elm tree, they should be planted in moist, well-draining soil with partial to full sun available.
The size of a mature elm tree depends on the species. One of the smallest known species of elm is the dwarf field elm, which only grows as tall as about 9 feet.
English elm trees, in contrast, can reach heights of up to 130 feet on average. Not far behind is the American elm tree, which grows to about 60 to 80 feet.
For more information about elm trees, their history and various uses, watch this video:
If you can find a variety that is more resistant to disease, elm trees are a great addition to your property. To find out whether you should add an elm tree to your property, you should find out which hardiness zone you’re in.
It also wouldn’t hurt to find out about the quality of your soil, and how well it drains, to find out what you’ll need to do to provide optimal conditions for a new tree to establish itself.