Tough Trees to Survive Hurricanes

Tough Trees to Survive Hurricanes

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The question on every young homeowners mind: What trees can I plant that will withstand hurricane wind power? NOT! While this hefty subject may not broach every person's mind amidst picking out their first tree(s), it may just be too important to overlook. 

According to the National Environmental Satellite Data & Information Service, maximum sustained wind speeds of 155 miles per hour (mph) were observed during Hurricane Ian. Wow! No “average Joe” tree has the root system to support such high wind speeds. Taking into consideration the effects of hurricane-force winds when choosing trees for your landscape can save you time, money, and effort in the long run. 

Thankfully, has got you covered! We’ve dug up information on some of the best types of trees you can plant that will withstand hurricane wind power. 

Live Oak (Quercus virginiana & Quercus geminata) live oak tree

In a study published by the University of Florida, Live Oaks were found to be the most resistant to wind damage. 

Live Oaks produce the best results when planted in moist, acid, alkaline soil, sand, loam, or clay but they have the ability to survive drought. The Live Oak is a tough, enduring tree that will flourish in almost any location. In addition, it displays strong salt and, of course, wind resistance making it the top choice.

One of the features that makes it resilient is its ability to compartmentalize decay. Meaning that, once injured, it has the ability to slow or stop the spread of decay. 

The Live Oak must be diligently tended to to become a well-established tree.Take care to regularly prune for optimal results. 

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)  southern magnolia

The Southern Magnolia, hailing from most states in the southeastern corner of the United States, is a strong, dependent tree. It will readily adapt to most soils, moisture fluctuations and light conditions, though it prefers moist, well-drained, acidic soil and plenty of sun. 

Southern Magnolias have deep root systems which hold the tree firm in hurricane-force winds. Find plenty of tips for taking care of your Magnolia Tree on our #ProPlantTips blog: How to Take Care of Magnolia Trees

Sabal Palm (Sabal palmetto) sabal palm

Palm trees are a tell-tale sign you’ve just entered the southeastern United States! Native to Florida and the coastal regions of North and South Carolina and Georgia, the Sabal Palm is a terrific pick for a hurricane-resistant tree.

Sabal Palms are wind resistant because they are able to lose all their leaves without losing their terminal meristem. The terminal meristem is the essential part of a plant that enables growth and division. Without this, they would go extinct!

Trimming your Sabal Palm is vital for a couple of reasons. First, it makes the tree more aesthetically pleasing. And second, if left untrimmed, the dead leaves will snap off at high wind speeds. 

Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) 

crape myrtleThe health of a tree is an important factor to consider when establishing a hurricane-resistant tree. Other characteristics, such as defoliation, can help a tree survive such high wind speeds. This is the case for the Crape Myrtle tree. 

Crape Myrtle’s are highly popular in the southeastern United States. Pruning these trees is essential to wind resistance. Depending on when pruning occurred relative to the hurricane, loose branches will be eliminated and therefore unlikely to fall. Thankfully, the Crape Myrtle tree boasts flexible branches that do not snap easily. 

One important note about Crape Myrtles is they have low salt tolerance. If you live near the coast, planting this tree in your backyard may not be the best choice.

Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) bald cypress

If you’re looking for a tree that can outlive you and five centuries of family members, the Bald Cypress tree is your match! If this logistic is not as important to you, the Bald Cypress does have other great features that make it resistant to hurricanes. 

This tree grows throughout the Atlantic Coastal region as far west as southeastern Texas, and as far north as Delaware. The Bald Cypress is part of a particular species of trees called the Dicots. In a study performed by the University of Florida, it was ranked one of the highest wind resistant U.S. coastal species of Dicots. It is ideal for wet locations but it will grow remarkably well in a number of soil conditions, including standing water. 

The Bald Cypress shows impeccable strength against strong hurricane-force winds. Admittedly a large size tree, the Bald Cypress should be planted further away from structures to avoid serious damage. 


Important Recommendations

Taking all of what we’ve provided you with into account, you may realize that none of these particular trees fit your landscape ideals. Thankfully, there are a few general takeaways that can help you narrow down your selection. 

  1. The more rooting space a tree has, the healthier it is, meaning better anchorage and resistance to wind.
  2. Pruning results in more wind resistance and should be considered a vital practice for overall tree health and wind resistance. 
  3. Growing trees in groups or clusters was shown to be more wind resistant compared to individual trees.
  4. Native trees survive winds better than exotic ones. When considering trees for your landscape, know which exotic species do not perform well in hurricane-force wind speeds.

There’s nothing better than a landscape you can count on when the going gets tough. Taking the time to do your research about the best hurricane resilient trees is one of the best decisions you could possibly make for your landscape. Not only will you thank yourself but your trees will thank you! 

Happy Planting!

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