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The Ultimate List Of Trees With Non-Invasive Roots

Fruiting Tree - Chinese Pistachio

Whilst some trees can be a real asset to your outdoor space, others can become a nightmare to manage, particularly those with invasive roots. These can cause the destabilisation of house foundations and can damage the underground pipework that handles sewerage and wastewater.

They can also be difficult to remove, reduce the possibilities of land use in your yard, and even spread to neighbouring properties. Here’s our comprehensive list of trees with non-invasive roots.

Australian native trees with non-invasive roots

Pincushion Hakea (Hakea laurina)

Pink Blooms - Pincushion Hakea

This low-maintenance Australian native is from the Protea family. It grows to a height of around six metres and has bluish foliage with stunning white, red, cream and pink flowers that appear from late autumn and throughout winter. For maximum flowering, place in a sunny spot. It is frost-tolerant, but new growth can sustain some frost damage. As it is a shallow-rooted plant, it can also be affected by windy weather. It prefers well-drained soil, and its flowers attract wildlife like butterflies and nectar-eating birds.

Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora)

White Flowers - Lemon Myrtle

This beautiful native tree has lovely glossy green leaves and striking, fluffy white flowers that form in clusters and have an amazing citrusy scent. It can reach a height of 20 metres but responds well to regular pruning to contain its size. It does best in warm or subtropical climates with regular rainfall, although these trees can withstand light frost once mature. It is best grown in full sun and free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. It is also easy to maintain. Just mulch, water well, and prune and fertilise after flowering to promote compact growth. This tree should also be watered well during dry conditions.

Knife-leaf Wattle (Acacia cultriformis)

Acacia Cultriformis - Knife-leaf Wattle

Small and fast-growing, this native wattle grows to a height of around 2.5 metres and has silver, distinctively shaped leaves and beautiful golden, ball-shaped flowers that appear from late winter to late spring. It is adaptable in nature and very resilient, including withstanding coastal conditions, and can be used for dense hedging, privacy screens and as a feature shrub in native gardens. In terms of care, it prefers well-drained soil in full sun and responds well to pruning and a slow-release native fertiliser to promote healthy growth. Its non-invasive roots are particularly useful for erosion control.

Illawarra Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerifolius)

Australian Brachychiton Acerifolius - Illawarra Flame Tree

This impressively large native can grow to a height of around 20 metres, although it is usually much smaller when grown in a garden. These trees are deciduous, so they lose their leaves during winter. This is followed by clusters of red flowers that cover the tree in spring and summer. Although flowers are slow to appear, they are well worth the wait, as you will be rewarded with an explosion of fiery blooms. Care-wise, they prefer full sun to part shade, suit most soil types including clay, and can tolerate light frost once established. Apply a native slow-release fertiliser during spring for lush new growth and maximum flowering.

Evergreen trees with non invasive roots in Australia

Tibouchina (Melastomataceae)

Purple Flowers - Tibouchina

These are magnificent, low-maintenance, evergreen trees that can reach a height of 12 metres, although they can be pruned to keep their size more manageable. And there are so many varieties available! These can vary in size and colour from one-metre-tall shrubs to six-metre-tall trees with pink, white or deep purple flowers. Some varieties flower all year round, others flower in the warmer months, from summer to autumn. Tibouchinas are ideally suited to tropical to sub-tropical climates, and although they can cope with cooler temperatures, they can be affected by frost. In terms of care, regular watering will keep them healthy, and pruning them back after flowering will encourage more flowering in the next season.

Magnolia ‘Little Gem’ (Magnolia Grandiflora)

White Magnolia Flower

One of the best magnolia trees that money can buy, the evergreen Magnolia “Little Gem” has dark green glossy leaves, a rich tan colour under the leaves and stunning white bowl-shaped flowers that appear intermittently throughout the year in mild climates. Growing to a height of four metres, it is fast-growing, shade tolerant and ideal for hedges, feature planting, privacy screens and growing in large pots. It thrives best in a sunny or in a partly-shaded position with morning or afternoon sun and should be sheltered from exposed sites, strong winds, frost and snow. “Little Gem” should also be planted in well-drained soil, and removing the seed heads after flowering will encourage new growth and more prolific flowering.

Australian Native Frangipani (Hymenosporum flavum)

Australian Native Frangipani

Commonly known as the native Frangipani (although not related to the exotic form), this evergreen tree is relatively common in rainforests along the east coast of Australia from Sydney north to Cairns. When grown in gardens, it can reach a height of eight metres, although in a rainforest setting, up to 30 metres. It has large glossy leaves and bears highly fragrant flower clusters that start out as a cream colour and then turn to yellow (which birds and bees love). In terms of care, it prefers a nutritious and well-drained soil and can be grown in a shaded position, although it flowers best in full sun.

Australian Willow (Geijera parviflora)

Australian Weeping Willow Tree

Also commonly known as a “Wilga”, another evergreen with non-invasive roots is the Australian Willow, which is upright and medium-sized with evergreen foliage. It can grow up to 10 metres, its leaves are long and slender and small white flowers appear in spring and summer. It is an excellent choice for screening as its canopy tends to grow more up than out, and it can also be pruned into a column-like shape. It is very drought-tolerant and requires little supplemental water once established. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil and is very drought-tolerant.

Fruit trees with non invasive roots in Australia

Olive Tree (Olea europana)

Olive Tree

Olive trees can adapt to most conditions around the country. It can tolerate a range of weather conditions from sub-tropical and warm temperate to semi-arid and cold temperate conditions in mild and protected areas. They can grow up to 15 metres, but because they can be pruned and shaped successfully, are usually less than half of this.

Fruit ripens from autumn to winter, depending on the region and variety. Most start green and then ripen to purplish-black, although some varieties are green when ripe.

In terms of care, they prefer soil that is deep, well-drained, sandy or gravelly with a moderate amount of organic matter. They thrive in full sun and will also tolerate strong winds, including in coastal areas once established. Olive trees grow best with natural rainfall in winter, with small amounts of rain during flowering and fruiting, and then a dry summer as the fruit develops.

Pawpaw (Carica papaya)

Pawpaw (Papaya) Tree

Apart from having non-invasive roots, this tree produces delectable orange-fleshed fruits that are rich in fibre and Vitamin C. One important factor to consider when buying pawpaw trees is that they can be female, male or bisexual (meaning they produce flowers that have both male and female functioning parts). Male specimens won’t bear fruit, and female trees will need a male tree somewhere nearby for fertilisation before they can produce fruit. Bisexual varieties are self-pollinating, so they are often the best fruit-producing option.

Pawpaw trees grow best in low-acidity soils rich in organic matter, and good drainage is vital to prevent root rot. In warmer climates, they are prolific fruiters and thrive in sunny positions well protected from frost. Organic fruit and citrus plant foods will optimise fruit production throughout the growing season. Water requirements depend on the weather, but watering once a week throughout the growing season or twice weekly during drier weather is recommended.

Apple Tree – Ballerina Apple Waltz (Malus domestic)

Apple Tree

This is a popular fruit-bearing tree with well-contained roots that makes a drainage-friendly landscape element. Apple trees typically grow between five and 10 metres in height, and three metres for dwarf apple trees.

Your choice of apple tree variety depends on a number of factors. The space available, the climate you live in, the acidity of the soil and the quality of fruit you desire. Dwarf apple trees are a popular option, and many Australian apple lovers choose the Malus domestica, which is widely known as the “cooking apple” for their gardens. It bears medium-to-large red fruit that has crisp, juicy flesh. And it’s the perfect size for pots, courtyards and small gardens while still producing flavoursome, full-sized fruit.

Apple trees grow best in climates with a significant amount of sunlight hours without too much intense heat and shelter from strong winds. In terms of planting, this is best done during the winter months, as there will be no active growth occurring during this season, meaning your tree will be dormant and bare-rooted.

They grow best in deep soil that drains well and has a low acidity. In terms of ongoing care, how often you water it will depend on the type of soil it is growing in and whether it is in a pot or a garden. Regardless, water logging is an issue for apple trees, so don’t overdo it! Mulch is the best fertiliser for apple trees, and changing it regularly will help reduce bacteria, fungi, decay and rot.

Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas)

Cornelian Cherries

This deciduous tree grows to a height of around eight metres. It is one of the few trees that flower in cold climates, and the Cornelian Cherry produces beautiful clusters of small, golden-yellow flowers.

Its beautiful red berries are edible and primarily used for making jams. The fruit needs to ripen on the tree to gain the sugar levels required. The taste is best described as a sour cherry with a hint of floral fragrance to it.

In terms of care, it grows best in a sunny position in well-drained fertile soil. It is a slow-growing tree, but once established, it requires little maintenance and is relatively drought-tolerant.

Shrubs with non-invasive roots

Camellias

Camellia Japonica

These beautiful shrubs are evergreens with dark green summer foliage and provide much-needed colour in the winter months.

There are four main camellia species grown in Australian gardens and many hybrids. The most popular varieties are Camellia sasanqua (usually just called Sasanquas) and Camellia japonica (commonly called Japonicas). The Camellia reticulata is also a common choice, favoured for its larger flowers. And Camellia sinensis is another variety that is occasionally found in Australian gardens. The flowering season of camellias depends on the species. Sasanquas are in flower from autumn, and Japonicas in winter through to spring.

Drought-tolerant and with few pest or disease problems, they are relatively easy to care for. They prefer a semi-shaded position, although they will happily grow in full sun, but in this scenario, they will need regular watering. Cover their root system with a generous layer of organic matter periodically throughout the year, and they will thrive.

Azaleas

Azaleas

Azalea are a type of rhododendron that, depending on the species, can be evergreen or deciduous. Their size ranges from 30 centimetres tall miniatures to three-metre tall shrubs. In late winter or spring, they are usually covered in masses of blooms of varying colours.

This plant requires a cool temperature climate, although evergreen azaleas can be grown in both cool and warm temperate climates. They require a well-drained, rich organic acidic soil, and grow best in partial shade with protection from hot drying winds. Deciduous azaleas will grow in full sun in cooler areas.

Azaleas prefer regular watering two to three times a week through the hotter summer months as they have a shallow, fibrous root system that is non-invasive. A controlled-release fertiliser is recommended and should be applied after flowering and again in late summer/early autumn.

Hydrangeas

Hydrangea Flowers

There are over 75 species of hydrangeas which typically display stunning large blooms in spring and summer. Some of the more popular varieties are the Mophead hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla), which are deciduous shrubs growing to around one to two metres in height that bear large, rounded flower heads. Lacecap hydrangeas are a smaller group with more flattened flower heads, where the showy coloured petals form a ring around a cluster of tiny flowers in the centre. And Hydrangea paniculata produces large panicles of flowers on a robust shrub, growing to around 4m in height and is more tolerant of sun.

Hydrangeas can be planted at almost any time of year, except when the ground is frozen in winter, and they will thrive in well-draining, organically rich soil. Some varieties grow well in filtered shade, others will tolerate more sun. In terms of care, they should be watered often and fed a dose of controlled-release fertiliser in early spring.

Gardenias (Gardenia augusta)

Gardenia Flower

Gardenias are easy-care plants and available as dwarf varieties and as tall-growing shrubs. They have creamy white flowers with an intoxicating perfume that makes them a great addition to any garden as ground cover, an informal hedge or as a feature plant in a pot.

Warm climate plants that flower throughout spring, summer and autumn, Gardenia augusta is the species most commonly grown in Australia. They come in a range of sizes, from dwarf versions (around 50 centimetres) to larger versions that can grow up to two metres.

Gardenias prefer a warm, sunny position protected from the hot afternoon sun (and frosts in winter) and a rich, moist, free-draining soil that is slightly acidic.

Boxwoods (Buxus)

Boxwood (Buxus)

Densely packed with light green leaves, Boxwoods can grow in pots but are also useful where shallow roots are required. They are available in a variety of heights, from dwarf varieties up to three metres tall and can be cultivated into various shapes, making them an attractive feature for any garden. Regular pruning will allow you to maintain the desired shape easily, and it is best done during late winter or early spring.

Depending on the species, some can tolerate full sun, while others prefer full shade. They prefer good drainage and should be well-watered as winter approaches, as this will act as insulation. A dose of all-purpose fertiliser every spring will also help them thrive.

Small trees with non-invasive roots in Australia

Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)

Japanese Maple Tree

This stunning deciduous tree only grows to a height of around five metres and is typically an ornamental tree. The leaves of this seeding maple are light green with pink in spring, developing to a slighter deeper green in summer. In autumn, it provides a rich and glorious display of rich colours, from orange to red and even purple-red.

It prefers colder temperatures, so protection from sun and drying winds in warmer areas. In terms of care, the Japanese maple prefers deep and free-draining soil with added organic matter to retain moisture (although it won’t tolerate being waterlogged). An annual application of a controlled-release fertiliser will help it thrive.

Chinese Pistachio (Pistachio chinensis)

Fruiting Tree - Chinese Pistachio

This is another small to medium deciduous tree with non-invasive roots that is often used as an ornamental shade tree and is ideal for all sizes of gardens. It has a moderate growth rate and typically grows to a height of around eight metres. Its leaves are glossy green during summer, and in autumn, will put on a magnificent show with its orange, yellow and scarlet red leaves.

As the name suggests, it is related to the pistachio nut, however it does not produce nuts itself. A total sun lover, this tree should be situated in an area of at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight per day. It can be grown in a variety of soils as long as it is well-draining and can also withstand relatively harsh conditions.

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Purple Eastern Redbud

This is another deciduous tree that will grow to a height of around eight metres. It is a lovely specimen tree with heart-shaped leaves that change colours from tawny green, deepening to dark green for the rest of the growing season — with pretty pink blossoms appearing in early spring — before taking on amazing orange to brilliant yellow autumn colours.

In terms of care, it won’t tolerate long periods of wet or drought, so it prefers a moist, well-drained position with the best foliage appearing in full sun. Hot, exposed and windy sites should be avoided as the foliage will burn.

Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)

Flowers Of Downy Serviceberry

This deciduous, early-flowering tree grows to a height of around eight metres. Slightly fragrant white flowers appear before the leaves emerge in early spring. Flowers give way to small, round green berries, that turn red and finally mature into dark purplish-black in early summer. These are edible and resemble blueberries in size and colour.

Amelanchier trees are hardy and will thrive in a sunny sheltered position. However, they will also grow well in other situations, including light shade and damp-ish sites, as long as the soil is moderately light and moist. They won’t do well in lime or chalky soils. They must also be watered well in dry weather until established and are generally pest-free.

Large trees with non-invasive roots in Australia

Silver Birch (Betula pendula)

Silver Birch Tree

These deciduous trees can reach a height of around nine metres and have a stunning white trunk and beautiful golden foliage in autumn. They are what’s known as an “ornamental” tree, and when you see one, you’ll understand why. They are often grown as specimen trees or clumped together to form a forest effect.

In terms of care, they prefer moist, well-drained soil in the sun to part shade, but they will also tolerate short wet and dry periods. In terms of soil, they like moist, well-drained soil. If pruning, make sure it is in autumn or summer, as pruning in spring or winter can cause profuse “bleeding”.

Ornamental Pear (Pyrus calleryana)

Ornamental Pear Trees

This is a deciduous ornamental pear tree that grows up to 12 metres in height. It is suitable for a wide range of uses, including as a single feature tree in a garden. It starts off pyramidal in shape when young but becomes broader with age and has foliage that is glossy green and heart-shaped. In late autumn, its foliage turns into a myriad of oranges, yellows and reds, and blossoms cover the tree in spring.

It prefers well-drained soil in a sunny position but is adaptable to a wide range of site conditions, including dry conditions, wet and/or slightly alkaline soils and limited coastal exposure.

References

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