Best Small Trees for the Texas Gulf Coast

By Taelor Smith

A perfect way to celebrate Arbor Day on April 30 is to spruce up your garden by planting new trees. Here are a few of the best small trees to add to your yard this season.

Kumquat (Citrus sp.) 

A pollinator favorite, this evergreen citrus tree produces small white flowers in summer that develop into walnut-sized oval fruits in winter, with a thin edible rind and large seeds. Depending on the tree’s variety, the fruit can be sweet or tart and may not have much juice. It is slow growing and can reach 10 to 15 feet high.

Dwarf Meyer Lemon (Citrus limon × meyeri)

Brighten up any green space with a dwarf Meyer lemon tree. This evergreen produces few thorns and only reaches heights of 6 to 10 feet, making it ideal for containers. A cross between a lemon and sweet orange, the fruit tastes sweeter than traditional lemons and ripens between October and January. When it’s not producing fruit, the tree can bloom all year, although it typically blooms in spring and fall.

Mexican Plum (Prunus mexicana)

The Mexican plum tree is a deciduous tree perfect for those looking for seasonal interest. It produces showy white flowers from late winter to spring before foliage develops. The dark red to purple fruits that ripen in fall are a favorite of birds and small mammals. The edible fruit can be consumed fresh or made into preserves. In the fall, its leaves turn a vibrant orange before dropping. It is cold-tolerant, grows in sun or part shade, and reaches heights of 12 to 36 feet. Once established, it requires little water.

Little Gem Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’)

The “Little Gem” magnolia adds a taste of the south to small yards or spaces without overwhelming them. It reaches 15 to 20 feet tall and produces fragrant, 4-inch white flowers that bloom from spring to summer. The flowers yield cone-shaped fruit clusters covered with red seeds that attract birds. As an evergreen, it keeps its glossy, dark-green foliage year-round.

Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)

This unique tree grows up to 28 feet tall and features dark-green compound leaves that turn yellow and drop in the fall. True to its name, the tree produces striking red flower spikes from March to May, followed by fruit capsules containing up to three large seeds.

Wild Texas Olive (Cordia boissieri)

A small- to medium-size tree, the wild Texas olive can reach 20 feet tall. It has silvery-green leaves with a velvety texture and flowers that bloom into showy, white trumpets. Although humans should not consume its olive-like fruits, birds and other wildlife love to indulge in them.