In Los Angeles and throughout Southern California, blooming jacaranda trees announce the coming of spring.
This visually stunning tree can grow up to 100 feet tall, but most top out between 25 and 50 feet. Early growth is fast, but mature trees grow more slowly. Although some jacarandas exhibit an upright pattern, usually the branches are long and spreading, creating a wide and open crown. The bark is silvery gray to almost black and the lacy, fern-like foliage is bright green and abundant, providing plenty of filtered shade. In the spring, the jacaranda produces masses of pale blue to lavender flowers that transform the crown into a pastel cloud of blossoms.
Despite its delicate appearance, the jacaranda is a sturdy tree. Jacarandas grow quickly in almost any well-drained soil. They are drought resistant once established, and although they thrive in summer sun they also tolerate isolated periods of cold weather or an occasional frost. Young trees may need selective pruning to develop a strong central trunk. Jacarandas show better color when amended with organic mulch, but keep mulch away from the trunk to prevent rotting.
Jacarandas are most often planted in rows as street trees, where the crowns grow together to create colorful canopies, or in parks or large open areas where they have plenty of room to spread. The fallen blossoms are slightly sticky and sometimes considered a nuisance, especially when they drop on parked cars below. To avoid this problem, plant the jacaranda as a shade tree in an open lawn.
On paper at least, magnolias look like the wrong tree for Los Angeles. A native of the Southeastern US, this woodland tree is fond of rich, organic soils and cool, shady glades. Yet, throughout Southern California, from Downtown LA to the Inland Empire, magnolia trees not only survive but thrive.
Magnolias in Los Angeles are typically smaller than their Southern cousins, usually reaching heights of no more than 40 feet. The sturdy brown trunks are topped by rounded crowns composed of many large, oval, deep green and glossy leaves. In summer, the magnolia produces showy and sweetly fragrant creamy white blossoms, scattered at intervals around the tree. Dark green year-round in cooler climates, in Southern California the magnolia may develop variegated fall color, with individual leaves turning yellow to burnished red before they drop.
Location is the key to the size and success of your magnolia tree. If you don’t mind the sunburned fall foliage, magnolias will grow happily in full sun, while specimens that are sheltered on the north side of a house or beneath taller trees will exhibit classic foliage and increased flowering. Deep watering is essential for the first one or two seasons. The roots of the magnolia are near the surface and it may be difficult to cultivate grass or other plantings in its deep shade.
In Los Angeles, magnolias are popular street and specimen trees, and are a perfect fit for smaller...