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Adopt-A-Tree Program


Leon County is proud to offer the Adopt-A-Tree Program. If you live inside Leon County, but outside of Tallahassee city limits, you may qualify to have a tree planted on your property for free.

If you agree to water the tree three times a week for one year, Leon County Public Works will plant the tree anywhere between your house and any publicly-maintained road or any privately maintained road with public access.

Right Tree, Right Place

Matching the right tree to the right place is the best way to ensure the health and longevity of our trees.  A tree that has it’s needs met is better able to withstand the pressures of insects, disease, or other stress factors.  Choosing the right tree for the right place ensures vibrant health, reduces maintenance, and maximum benefits.  Take note of site factors such as sun/shade, soil type, and drainage, and find a tree species that fits those characteristics.  Equally important is considering the mature size of the tree compared to the space constraints of the location, including overhead utility wires, nearby structures and hardscapes, and other plants.




Chionanthus virginicus

Fringetree is a small to medium sized tree with fragrant, bright white flowers in spring.  The flowers emerge just as the dogwood flowers fade, hanging in long, spectacular panicles, which appear to cover the tree with cotton for two weeks.


Height: 12 to 20 feet  /  Spread: 10 to 15 feet  /  Crown shape: oval, round

Leaf type and persistence: deciduous

Leaf color: green  /  Fall color: yellow  /  Flower color: white/cream

Flower characteristics: very showy, fragrant

Fruit shape: oval, round  /  Fruit color: blue, purple  /  Fruit characteristics: attracts birds; showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Bark: grayish brown speckled, smooth

Preferred Site Characteristics

Light requirement: full sun, partial sun, or partial shade; shade tolerant

Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; acidic; occasionally wet; well-drained

Drought tolerance: moderate

Use and Management

Dark green, glossy leaves emerge later in the spring than those of most plants, just as the flowers are at peak bloom. Female plants develop purple-blue fruits, which are highly prized by many birds. Fall color is yellow in northern climates, but is an unnoticed brown in the South, with many leaves dropping to the ground a blackened green. The flowers can be forced into early bloom indoors.

The plant eventually grows 20 to 30 feet tall in the woods, spreads to 15 feet, and tolerates city conditions well. But trees are more commonly seen 10 to 15 feet tall in landscapes where they are grown in the open. It forms as a multi-stemmed round ball if left unpruned but can be trained into a small tree with lower branches removed. Although reportedly difficult to transplant, fringetree can be successfully moved quite easily with proper care. Could be used beneath power lines where no pruning would be required.

Fringetree looks best in a sunny spot sheltered from wind. The foliage appears more attractive when grown with several hours of shade, but the tree blooms best in full sun. Probably best overall with some afternoon shade. A North American native commonly found in upland woods and stream banks throughout most of the South, fringetree prefers moist, acid soil and will gladly grow in even wet soils. It grows very slowly, usually 6 to 10 inches per year, but can grow a foot per year if given rich, moist soil and plenty of fertilizer. There is only one flush of growth each year.

Southern Wax Myrtle
Myrica cerifera

Southern Wax Myrtle has multiple, twisted trunks with smooth, light grey bark, aromatic, olive green leaves, and clusters of grey-blue, waxy berries on female plants which are attractive to wildlife. Most specimens form a multi-stemmed, open, rounded canopy of weak trunks and branches, but this plant can be pruned into multiple shapes. This rapidly-growing, small, evergreen native tree is capable of reaching a height of 25 feet with an equal spread but is usually seen in the 10 to 20-foot range. Sometimes used as a large shrubbery screen, southern waxmyrtle is ideal for use as a small tree, the lower limbs removed to reveal its picturesque form. One, or several clustered together, provide pleasing dappled shade for terraces or patios.


Height: 15 to 25 feet  /  Spread: 20 to 25 feet  /  Crown shape: vase, round

Leaf type and persistence: evergreen, fragrant

Leaf color: green  /  Fall color: no color change  /  Flower color: green

Flower characteristics: not showy

Fruit shape: round  /  Fruit color: blue  /  Fruit characteristics: attracts birds; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk/bark/branches: showy; typically multi-trunked

Preferred Site Characteristics

Light requirement: full sun, partial sun, or partial shade, shade tolerant

Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; extended flooding; well-drained

Drought tolerance: moderate

Use and Management

Very tough and easily-grown, southern waxmyrtle can tolerate a variety of landscape settings from full sun to partial shade, wet swamplands or high, dry and alkaline areas. Growth is thin in total shade. It is also very salt-tolerant (soil and aerosol), making it suitable for seaside applications. It is adapted to parking lot and street tree planting, especially beneath powerlines, but branches tend to droop toward the ground, possibly hindering flow of vehicular traffic if not properly trained and pruned. Set them back from the road if used as a street tree so drooping branches will not hinder traffic. Removing excess shoot growth two times each year eliminates the tall, lanky branches and reduces the tendency for branches to droop. Some landscape managers hedge the crown into a multi-stemmed dome-shaped topiary. Plants spaced 10 feet apart, maintained in this manner, can create a nice canopy of shade for pedestrian traffic.

Plants should be watered well until established and will then require no further care. The only drawback to the plant is its tendency to sprout from the roots. This can be a nuisance as they need to be removed several times each year to keep the tree looking sharp. However, in a naturalized garden this thick growth could be an advantage, since it would provide good nesting cover for wildlife. Only female trees produce fruit provided there is a male nearby, but seeds do not appear to become a weed problem in the landscape.

Swamp Chestnut Oak
Quercus michauxii

Swamp chestnut oak is native to silty floodplains, swampy areas, rich sandy lowland woods and along streams primarily in coastal plain areas. However, it is actually quite adaptable to a wide range of soils, including well drained, sandy soils, and can tolerate both occasional droughts and flooding. 

Height: 40 to 60 feet  /  Spread: 30 to 50 feet  /  Crown shape: narrow to rounded
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous, long-serrated
Leaf color: waxy green on top, silvery pubescent underneath  /  Fall color: red, copper  /  Flower color: green
Flower characteristics: not showy
Fruit shape: oval, round acorn  /  Fruit color: brown  /  Fruit characteristics: attracts squirrels/mammals
Trunk/bark/branches: showy; platey, light grey

Preferred Site Characteristics

Light requirement: full sun

Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; acidic; well-drained

Drought tolerance: high


Use and Management

Swamp chestnut oak is a medium to large deciduous oak (part of the white oak group) with a tight, narrow, rounded crown. Acorns are typically not produced until the tree reaches 20-25 years old. Gray bark has flaky ridges. Swamp chestnut oak was a popular timber tree in the cotton belt of the Deep South during the 1800s, with its durable wood used for a number of different purposes including flooring, posts, wagons and tool handles. In addition, the wood was often split into thin but flexible strips for weaving heavy baskets used to harvest cotton from fields (hence the sometimes used common name of basket oak).


Water your tree regularly to give your tree a good start.

For the first two weeks after transplanting, provide 3 gallons of water daily.  Afterwards, water two to three times each week for the duration of the growing season.   More may be required during periods of drought.   As the tree grows, apply 2 to 3 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter over the root ball.  The soil should be moist but not waterlogged. 

Maintain a layer of mulch around your tree at least 3’ in width.  This reduces competition from turf roots and weeds, and protects your tree from damage by lawn mowers and trimmers.  The mulch should be 2-3” in depth and 4” away from the trunk of the tree.  You can make the mulch ring wider as the tree grows. 

Do not use lawn/weed chemicals or herbicides around the tree.  Fertilization is not required.  Pruning is not recommended in the first three years, except in the case of broken, dead or diseased branches.

If you're interested in having a tree planted on your property for free, please fill out the form below.