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Trellis trees are an ornament for every garden. We present 12 suitable trees and shrubs that are just as uncomplicated and easy to care for as they are evergreen and hardy.

In a nutshell

  • Espalier form is a special form of growth training for trees and shrubs
  • some evergreen species are very suitable for trellis trees
  • these must be robust and easy to cut
  • different trellis shapes: classic, with tiers, as a roof and as a box
  • Distinction between evergreen and evergreen

Trees from A - D

Occidental tree of life (Thuja occidentalis)

Actually, the tree of life (or thuja) is a classic and popular hedge plant, as its dense growth offers good privacy and sound insulation. The different varieties are also well suited as trellis trees if accents are to be set in the garden.

  • Growth: upright, slender, densely branched
  • Height of growth: up to ten meters high
  • Growth rate: 20 to 40 centimeters per year
  • Flower: no
  • Fruit ornaments: no
  • Location: sunny to semi-shady
  • Soil: normal garden soil that is as moist as possible
  • Frost hardiness: very hardy, robust
  • Special features: tolerates pruning well, needles turn copper-colored in winter

Tip: Varieties with golden-yellow needles such as 'Golden Smaragd' are also interesting. However, the fresh green needled variety 'Smaragd' is particularly popular.

Barberries (Berberis)

There are numerous attractive barberry species that aren't technically trees either. Instead, the common barberry (Berberis vulgaris) or yolk barberry (Berberis x stenophylla) are large shrubs with overhanging branches. But these can also be trained as espalier trees in the form of tall trunks.

  • Growth: initially upright, later arching and overhanging
  • Growth rate: 30 to 50 centimeters per year
  • Growth height: up to two meters
  • Flowers: Attractive orange or yellow flowers in May or June
  • Fruit decoration: small, blue-black fruits in late summer
  • Location: sunny to semi-shady
  • Soil: undemanding, thrives in almost any garden soil
  • Frost hardiness: very hardy, robust
  • Special features: plentiful flowers, valuable wood for bees and birds

Tip: High-contrast varieties such as the fast-growing blood barberry (Berberis ottawensis 'Superba') or the red hedge barberry (Berberis thunbergii 'Atropurpurea') with their dark red foliage and bright yellow flowers are particularly attractive.

Trees from E - G

Yew (Taxus baccata)

Naturally, native trees such as the yew should not be missing from this list. Like almost all conifers, Taxus baccata is evergreen and therefore keeps the dark green needles even in winter. Yews are very suitable both for planting hedges and as trellis trees.

  • Growth: upright, bushy, densely branched
  • Growth height: up to ten meters
  • Growth rate: 20 to 30 centimeters a year
  • Flower: inconspicuous
  • Fruit ornaments: yes, bright red berries
  • Location: undemanding, sunny to shady
  • Soil: undemanding, thrives on almost any soil
  • Frost hardiness: very hardy, native wood
  • Special features: very robust, easy to care for, evergreen

Tip: All plant parts of the European yew - but especially the berries - are highly toxic!

European Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea)

Strictly speaking, firethorn is not a tree, but a tall, upright shrub. Nevertheless, the wood can be trained very well - whether as a standard or without a trunk - to form a trellis.

  • Growth: upright
  • Growth rate: 20 to 30 centimeters a year
  • Growth height: up to three meters
  • Flowers: small, white bowl-shaped flowers between the end of May and June
  • Fruit decoration: yes, bright red or orange
  • Location: sunny to semi-shady
  • Soil: normal garden soil
  • Frost hardiness: very hardy, robust
  • Special features: evergreen, excellent privacy protection plant, valuable wood for birds and bees

Common privet (Ligustrum vulgare)

The privet varieties, which are popular as hedge and bee plants, are also not trees, but can be raised as a standard. The pruning-tolerant shrubs are also very suitable for espaliers. The black-green privet (Ligustrum vulgare 'Atrovirens') is particularly beautiful, which can also grow in full shade without any problems and - in contrast to the deciduous species - remains evergreen in mild winters.

  • Growth: wide upright
  • Growth rate: 20 to 120 centimeters per year (depending on the variety and location)
  • Growth height: up to five meters
  • Flowering: white flowers between June and July
  • Fruit decoration: small, blue-black fruits
  • Location: sunny to semi-shady
  • Soil: undemanding, grows in almost any soil
  • Frost hardiness: very hardy, robust
  • Special features: some varieties are evergreen, tolerates pruning very well, valuable wood for bees
Source: Lucarelli, Eristalis, Livorno, Edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Tip: The oval-leaved privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) does not shed its leaves either, but keeps them over the winter. The golden-leaved variety 'Aureum', which scores with green-yellow foliage, is particularly attractive.

Photinia × fraseri

The various types and varieties of photinia are also very suitable as trellis trees and as such are an attractive eye-catcher in the garden.

  • Growth: upright, broad bushy
  • Growth height: up to four meters
  • Flowers: simple, white flowers in May
  • Fruit decoration: small, apple-shaped fruits
  • Location: sunny to semi-shady
  • Soil: slightly acidic
  • Frost hardiness: conditionally hardy, winter protection advisable
  • Special features: evergreen, valuable wood for birds and bees

Tip: Varieties with variegated leaves are particularly interesting, such as the white-green medlar (Photinia fraseri 'Pink Marble') with its three-colored pink-white-green leaves, the 'Pink Crispy' variety with the white-green variegated foliage or the red-leaved variety 'Red Robin'. .

Trees from H–O

Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)

Hornbeams or hornbeams are trees up to 14 meters high, which are ideal for hedges or trellises due to their vigor and pruning tolerance. Although they are not evergreen, they keep the dried leaves on the branch in winter and only shed them in the spring with the new shoots.

  • Growth: upright, dense
  • Growth rate: 30 to 35 centimeters per year
  • Flowering: small, yellow flowers in April or May
  • Fruit ornaments: no
  • Location: sunny to shady, tolerates shade very well
  • Soil: rich in nutrients
  • Frost hardiness: very hardy
  • Special features: robust, undemanding

Evergreen magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

The evergreen magnolia, which comes from North America, is rather unknown to us and is only rarely planted. The trees are primarily attractive for their very large, fragrant flowers, which are among the largest tree blossoms of all. The species is very well suited to trellis training, whereby these trellis trees should be planted in as warm and sheltered a place as possible - evergreen magnolias are only conditionally hardy.

  • Growth: upright
  • Growth rate: 10 to 25 centimeters per year
  • Growth height: up to 15 meters
  • Flower: Large, tulip-like flowers
  • Fruit ornaments: yes
  • Location: as sunny and protected as possible
  • Soil: fresh, humic, acidic pH
  • Frost hardiness: only conditionally hardy
  • Special features: tolerates pruning very well, evergreen, impressive flowers
Young specimens often do not give an idea of the later enormous outgrowths.

Trees from P - Z

Portuguese cherry laurel (Prunus lusitanica)

The large shrub, also known as laurel cherry, is robust, easy to care for, attractive all year round and very popular as a hedge. Little is known that trellis cherry laurel trees form an interesting eye-catcher in the garden.

  • Growth: upright, well branched
  • Growth rate: 10 to 30 centimeters per year
  • Growth height: up to four meters
  • Blossom: white grape blossoms in June
  • Fruit ornaments: yes
  • Location: sunny to semi-shady
  • Soil: normal garden soil
  • Frost hardness: very good, robust
  • Special features: tolerates pruning very well, glossy, dark green foliage

Holly (Ilex aquifolium)

This medium-sized shrub can be used in many ways: as a solitary shrub or hedge planting, as a trunk in the form of a tree or as a trellis.

  • Growth: pyramidal, wide, well branched
  • Growth height: up to five meters
  • Flowers: inconspicuous white flowers between May and June
  • Fruit decoration: spherical red berries, not edible
  • Location: sunny to semi-shady
  • Soil: fresh, but permeable, humic
  • Hardness to frost: very good
  • Special features: evergreen, suitable for shady and dry locations

Holm oak (Quercus ilex)

This oak species comes from the Mediterranean region and is evergreen. The glossy, green leaves are reminiscent of holly, and the bark is smooth. Holm oaks make distinctive, interesting trellis trees, which you should cultivate in tubs due to their lack of winter hardiness - unless you live in a region with mild winters.

  • Growth: upright
  • Growth rate: 10 to 15 centimeters per year
  • Growth height: up to seven meters
  • Flower: inconspicuous
  • Fruit ornaments: yes
  • Location: sunny, sheltered
  • Soil: dry
  • Frost hardiness: not frost hardy

Evergreen oleaster (Elaeagnus × ebbingei)

Wintergreen oleaster is an attractive and undemanding large shrub that can be used for all sorts of garden purposes. The species is particularly popular for hedges and group plantings, but it also cuts a fine figure as a trellis.

  • Growth: upright, broadly bushy with age
  • Growth rate: 10 to 25 centimeters per year
  • Growth height: up to three meters
  • Flowers: white, fragrant flowers between October and November
  • Location: partially shaded
  • Soil: normal garden soil, undemanding
  • Frost hardiness: very hardy in sheltered locations
  • Special features: evergreen, also evergreen in regions with mild winters

Tip: A pretty variety is the variegated willow tree (Elaeagnus pungens 'Maculata') with its yellow-green leaves. However, this is more sensitive than the green-leaved species and should be planted in a sunny and sheltered place with acidic soil.

frequently asked Questions

What trellis forms are there?

There are four different espaliers. In addition to the classic espalier shape, you can choose between tiered, roof and box espaliers. The shape of the roof, which is basically a horizontal trellis shape, deserves special mention here.

Are there other plants that can be trained well to form a trellis?

Not only the trees and shrubs presented here can be trained to form a trellis. Especially recommended - and proven - are fruit trees (especially apples, pears and quinces) and climbing plants. From the latter group, many types and varieties of trellis frames are used, including ivy, which is also evergreen, but also climbing hydrangeas and climbing roses. Deciduous trees such as field maple, common beech, ironwood tree (Parrotia persica) or the native swamp oak are also very suitable for this purpose.

What is the difference between evergreen and wintergreen plants?

Plants are considered evergreen if they retain their foliage (or needles) and remain green for at least two years. In some plant species, the foliage stays on the branch for many years, for example the fir, whose needles remain on the tree for up to 11 years before they are shed. In addition, obsolete leaves are not shed all at once and completely, but continuously. Wintergreen plants, on the other hand, keep their leaves over the winter and only shed them in the following spring with new shoots.

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