What Tree Should I Choose to Plant With My Loved One’s Ashes?
Choosing a tree for your Living Urn is an important decision. You want to choose a tree that will naturally thrive in your location, as well as represent the beautiful person you’ve lost. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the practical and meaningful decisions you face as you choose a beautiful tree for your Living Urn.
What are Hardiness Zones? | Growing Zone 1 | Growing Zone 2 | Growing Zone 3 | Growing Zone 4 | Growing Zone 5 | Growing Zone 6 | Growing Zone 7 | Growing Zone 8 | Growing Zone 9 | Growing Zone 10 | Growing Zone 11 | How to Choose the Right Tree? | Celtic Tree Astrology
What are Hardiness Zones?
This is by far the most important decision you will make in this process, and it’s the easiest too. All you’ll have to do when buying your living urn tree is enter your zip code and only trees rated for your area’s hardiness zone will display. Even though this is a simple process on your end, let’s go into why this decision is so important.
It’s imperative that you only plant a tree that is rated for your location’s hardiness zone. This will help to ensure that your tree will thrive when planted. Trees planted outside their hardiness zones will likely be unable to tolerate the temperature range and are much more likely to die. And, we don’t want that for your living urn, we want to do everything we can to ensure that your living urn tree thrives. That’s why we only sell our customers trees rated for their hardiness zones. Each zone usually has a wide variety of trees to choose from, so selection is rarely limited by hardiness zones.
These zones are rated by measuring the average minimum temperature in different areas of the U.S. The lower the number, the lower the temperature in that zone. For example, zone 1 is rated for -50 degrees Fahrenheit. There are 11 hardiness zones in the US.
Growing Zone 1
Northern Canada - if you live here, consider an indoor urn!!! The Tundra ZONE - you probably don't live here.
This zone’s minimum average temperature is -50 to -60 degrees Fahrenheit. Gardeners in zone one need to be almost as tough as their plants, which are able to withstand temperatures of up to -60 Fahrenheit. The temperatures are unforgivable in the lower zones, and it’s important to choose a plant suited to this area. Here are a few trees suited to zone 1.
- Quaking Aspen: the Quaking Aspen tree is a stunning tree that tolerates extremely cold temperatures well.
- Dwarf Birch: the dwarf birch can withstand devastating cold temperatures, but make sure your tree is rated for zone 1, because some dwarf birches have a higher rating. This hearty tree is mainly found in areas of the world with tundra.
- Net-Leaf Willow: also known as the snow willow, this tree is native to the colder parts of the world including Europe, North America, and Northern Asia.
Growing Zone 2
Central and Northern Canada and part of Alaska - similar to Zone 1, you probably don't live here either, and its very cold.
This zone’s minimum average temperature is -40 to -50 degrees Fahrenheit. This zone also requires very sturdy trees that can withstand these extreme temperatures. For example, traditional fruit trees won’t grow in this zone, it’s far too cold for them. Here are some examples of trees that can tolerate zone 2.
- Birch Trees: such as the Paper Birch and the Silver Birch. The Paper Birch is a vital, quickly growing tree that can easily tolerate areas with a lot of snow. These trees grow in a variety of soil types and are gorgeous year-round.
- Balsam Poplar: this is a tall, gorgeous tree that enjoys full sun and moist, rich soil. They flower in April and May, producing red flowers in cone-shaped clumps. Balsam poplars also prevent soil erosion and can clean (remediate) contaminated soil.
- White Willow: this stunning tree likes full sun, but can tolerate partial shade, and does well in a loamy soil. Wildlife of all kinds love willow trees, and they are particularly helpful with soil erosion issues.
Growing Zone 3
Parts of Northern North Dakota, Northern Minnesota, and Northeast Montana - it's usually quite cold here!
This zone’s minimum average temperature is -30 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. While zone 3’s temperatures are mild compared to zones 1 and 2, zone 3 trees still need to be tough and resilient. Here are two examples of trees that can grow and thrive in Zone 3.
- Ginkgo Biloba: this is a gorgeous, large tree that grows to an impressive 50-75 feet tall. Ginkgo Biloba prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade.
- Sugar Maple: the Sugar Maple grows to 50-80 feet tall and enjoys full sun to partial shade. This tree’s sap is used to make maple syrup.
Growing Zone 4
Upper Midwest, Northern Minnesota, Montana, and parts of Maine
Still a very cold region, however, this area can experience more mild Spring, Summer and Fall Seasons! This zone’s minimum average temperature is -20 to -30 degrees Fahrenheit. This zone still requires trees that can tolerate extreme cold.
- Evergreen Trees: evergreens like the Colorado Blue Spruce do will with zone 4’s cold temperatures. A spruce tree can fill your yard with beautiful color. A pine tree is lovely year-round and will fill your yard with its fragrance.
- Tulip Tree: this gorgeous shade tree blossoms once a year with bright, tulip shaped blooms and is part of the magnolia family of trees. Make sure you have plenty of space because this tree can grow upwards of 100 feet.
Growing Zone 5
Upper Midwest, New England, and Parts of Colorado
This zone’s minimum average temperature is -10 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. With less extreme temperatures, choices abound in zone 5. Here are two standouts.
- Red Maple: this gorgeous tree is one of the most popular trees planted with The Living Urn, and for good reason! It's known for its beautiful autumnal spread of yellow and orange. It is a highly adaptable tree that can grow and thrive in a variety of climates and soil types.
- Northern Red Oak: The beautiful tree is considered a national treasure as one of the stateliest and cleanest trees in the U.S. It's a fast growing oak that shows off brilliant red fall colors.
Growing Zone 6
Midwest and Northeast - probably the most populated zone (it's likely you may live here!)
This zone’s minimum average temperature is 0 to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. While you have more selection in zone 6, tree’s still need to be able to tolerate below freezing temperatures. Here are two great options in this zone.
- Weeping Willow: a beautiful, large and peaceful tree with slender leaves and giant ground sweeping branches. This can be a great centerpiece in any medium or large yard and is one of the most popular trees planted with The Living Urn. This gorgeous tree is dramatic in its appearance - few trees offer such grace to the landscape!
- Bald Cypress: though this tree is native to southern swamps, it can handle northern cold with ease. A tall tree, ranging in height from 50-70 feet, Bald Cypress is a deciduous conifer, with soft needles that turn orange and fall off in autumn.
Growing Zone 7
New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Southern Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, etc.
This zone’s minimum average temperature is 10 to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The mild temperatures of zone 7 mean that you’ll see more fruit trees and flowering trees available!
- Pink Dogwood: this special tree is a beautiful showstopper wherever it’s planted! With its gorgeous pink blooms and a naturally appealing shape, this is a lovely tree year round!
- Flowering Cherry Trees: with their brilliant flowers in the Spring, the flowering cherry is a great addition to any landscape and an extremely popular tree in Growing Zone 7. Choose from Kwanzan, Yoshino, Akebono, Autumnalis, and Okame, among many others!
Growing Zone 8
Most of Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and parts of the Pacific Northwest and California
This zone’s minimum average temperature is 20 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. While frost sensitive trees can’t tolerate zone 8, there is a wide range of cold hardy trees that can. Here are two examples.
- Crape Myrtle: these beautiful smaller-sized tree come in different varieties, all of them glorious (includes pink, purple, white, red, etc.). They add visual appeal year-round and are fast growing!
- Rose of Sharon: a stunning flowering shrub that can add an element of beauty to any landscape! With multiple varieties, you can choose one that suits you best!
Growing Zone 9
Southern Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Parts of California and Arizona
This zone’s minimum average temperature is 30 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This is an easy zone to grow trees in, though you still need to be aware of frost sensitivity. Here are two trees that thrive in growing zone 9.
- Southern Magnolia: Known for its large creamy white flowers that can grow up to a foot in diameter! Its stunning blooms arrive in May until June and release a sweet scent. It has a glossy green leaves with a reddish brown color underside. A favorite of birds, rabbits and squirrels!
- Willow Oak: a member of the red oak family of trees - this beautiful species serves as a great shade tree!. Its leaves change from light green in the Spring months, to a darker green in the Summer, then yellow and red in the Fall. The acorns from the Willow Oak are a great food for wildlife!
Growing Zone 10
Southern Florida and parts of Arizona and Southern California - this is where it's hot!
This zone’s minimum average temperature is 40 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. We are solidly in warmer climates in zone 10, so trees and shrubs that are frost sensitive can be planted here.
- Citrus trees are beautiful, fragrant and tasty trees. Citrus blossoms will perfume your yard (and heart) and you’ll enjoy a bounty of fresh fruit each year.
- Gardenias: This hardy evergreen shrub presents shiny dark green leaves and elegant white flowers is a wonderful addition to any garden or yard. They are highly fragrant and provide an amazing scent, that once experienced, is hard to forget!
Growing Zone 11
Hawaii, Florida Keys and Puerto Rico
This zone’s minimum average temperature is 50 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the warmest zone in the United States, and offers many plants, including tropical, to choose from. Here are two growing zone 11 trees to consider.
- Weeping Bottle Brush: this plant can turn shrub like without pruning, so take care. Weeping Bottle Brush’s draping limbs will be covered in soft, red, bottle shaped blossoms once a year.
- Canary Island Pine: this is a big tree, so make sure you have the room before planting. The Canary Island Pine has beautiful needles that are very long and hang downwards. It also features red bark, making this an aesthetically pleasing tree.
How to Choose the Right Tree?
There are many factors to consider when choosing a tree normally. But these aren’t normal circumstances, and there is more to consider when choosing a tree for your Living Urn. Once the practicalities (growing zones, suitable size) are decided, then the question becomes “What tree will best represent the person I loved?”, and this is by no means a simple question. We’ll explore three different ways to choose the right tree for your living urn, starting with the most practical and moving on to the more esoteric.
Size and Space
Next to choosing for your hardiness zone, choosing where to plant is the most important choice you’ll make when planting your living urn. Planting your living urn tree in the right place where it has plenty of room to grow will help ensure a healthy tree, as well as prevent damage to any structures like your home. Depending on your tree’s size, it’s also important to consider placement for things like shade during the summer and warmth during the winter. Here is a basic tree spacing guide.
Minimum spacing needed from the wall of a single story building
Minimum spacing needed from the corner of a single story building
Small (30’ in height or less)
Medium (30-70’ in height)
Large (70’+ in height)
If your home doesn’t have the space for the tree you want, you can always consider planting in a cemetery, a memory forest or another larger location.
Attributes of the Tree
Trees have different physical attributes that contribute to choosing your living urn. It’s also important to remember that there is ultimately only a right decision to make here. Any tree that will thrive is going to make an excellent living urn.
- Flowering Trees: flowering trees offer a lot as living urns. They are beautiful when in bloom, which can comfort the heart and soul. Perhaps your departed loved one adored flowers, or perhaps you choose a tree who’s blossoms are your loved one’s favorite color. The growth cycle of flowers also mimics the life cycle that we are all part of.
- Fruiting Trees: If you want to be more actively involved with your living urn, then choose a fruiting tree. Perhaps your loved one was an amazing baker and was famous for their apple pie. Planting an apple tree would be a beautiful way to remember them. Baking apple pies with apples from your loved one’s living urn tree could become a yearly ritual. Even if there isn’t a specific fruit memory, fruit trees do offer the opportunity to bring loved one’s together to participate in the harvest and remember their departed beloved.
- Shade Trees: while shade trees are more hands off than fruit trees, their impact is just as palpable. A shade tree offers comfort and reduces your energy bills. A shade tree is the perfect way to remember that special someone who was always helping in the background, or who had a comforting shoulder to offer. For families who love to be outside, a shade tree is the perfect way to keep a departed loved one close by and part of the family activities.
- Evergreen Trees: while trees that follow the seasons with shedding leaves represent the continuous cycle of life and death, evergreen trees represent the immortality of the human soul. They keep their beautiful needles, green and fresh, year-round, unmoved by cold or heat. In many cultures evergreens represent life after death and the immortal nature of the soul. Planting an evergreen living urn is a beautiful symbol of the hope of life after death.
Celtic Tree Astrology
The ancient Celts had a deep respect and reverence for trees, and imbued different trees with symbolism and meaning. Like Western astrology, the Celts associated a different tree or plant with different times of the year. We’ll discuss the trees covered in Celtic astrology. This can be a fun and meaningful way to choose a tree for your living urn. You could choose based on when your loved one was born, or simply choose the tree and characteristics that best suit them. (Some birth dates will not be mentioned, since they are associated with plants that aren’t trees.)
The Achiever: Birch
December 24th – January 20th. Birch trees are stunning small to medium sized trees with great visual appeal. The river birch is lovely year round with its unique, shaggy cream colored bark that is a feature of many birch trees. While they are common choices in many landscaping schemes, do be aware that these are relatively short lived trees for a hardwood. Those born under the birch sign reflect the natural tenacity and resilience of the tree they’re named for. Natural born leaders, birch’s take the center stage with ease. Even keeled and steady, other people are naturally drawn to their leadership.
The Thinker: Rowan
January 21st – February 17th. Rowan trees are small and can become shrub like depending on the species and how it’s cared for. This deeply sacred tree is rooted in Celtic mythology and is thought to have a protective nature. It’s a fast growing tree and produces bright red berries at the end of summer. The rowan sign is the philosopher of the Celtic zodiac. They usually have sharp minds and are visionary in their thinking. In fact, rowan’s thinking can be so original that others find them difficult to understand. Their outer cool, intellectual face conceals a passionate nature.
The Enchanter: Ash
February 18th - March 17th. There are many types of ash trees, and they are all large and stately. Ash trees are generally medium-large to large in size and are unfortunately vulnerable to the emerald ash borer. However, they do make wonderful shade trees and add to any landscape. Because of its many types, there is likely an ash tree that’s suited to your region, though be sure to check on the status of the emerald ash borer before planting. The ash sign is usually thought of an innovative, free thinker. Often artists, these signs are deeply in touch with their imagination and intuitive natures. Their moods, like their inner landscape, are constantly in motion, though ash signs have the ability to enchant people with their warm, sensitive and insightful natures.
The Trailblazer: Alder
March 18th – April 14th. There are many types of alder trees, and they can be difficult to source at your local nursery. They do well in areas without regular maintenance because they don’t require nitrogen fertilizer. They also do well with variable moisture levels and are beautiful trees that offer wonderful shade and privacy. Alders produce a fruit called strobile, which is food for wildlife. The alder sign knows how to blaze a trail to where they want to go. If you know anyone you’d call a mover and a shaker, these are likely alders. These signs are personable, friendly, and warm. They can be very social since they get along with everyone because of their confidence and self-assurance.
The Observer: Willow
April 15th – May 12th. The Weeping Willow is not only a stunningly beautiful tree, but it also makes a wonderful living urn. As the name suggests, the tree looks like it’s weeping, which can represent the deep grief you are now living through. They grow well next to water, which can be a comforting spot in times of sorrow. They’re also loved by birds and wildlife, which could symbolize the generous nature of your departed loved one. Willow signs are quite intelligent, creative and empathetic. They naturally tune into people and situations, with a keen eye for cutting through the superficial. A willow’s sharp mind is always gathering information and can be counted on to know something about almost everything.
The Illusionist: Hawthorn
May 13th – June 9th. Planted for its beauty, this showy tree is at its best in summer and winter. In the late spring and summer, it will be covered with fragrant white blossoms, and in the winter it produces vibrant red berries that will attract hungry wildlife to your yard. Its leaves are a deep purple red and will change to deep green in the summer. Holly signs tend to have defined facets, or different faces and are known for their fierce passion. Never judge a Hawthorn based on a first impression, they’ll likely surprise you. Hawthorn’s are adaptable, curious and have a broad range of interests. They’re also likely to lend a listening ear to their friends and family.
The Stabilizer: Oak
June 10th – July 7th. One of the wonderful things about oak trees, is that there are a variety of species to suit almost any yard. These stately trees have represented strength and power across cultures for centuries and make long lived and meaningful memorials. The oak sign is associated with the strength and power oak trees are known for. Oak people are also nurturing, generous and always ready to lend a helping hand. Known for their easy confidence and optimism, these people enjoy structure and order in their lives.
The Ruler: Holly
July 8th- August 4th. The American holly tree is a gorgeous flowering tree, with uniquely serrated light green leaves and bright red berries. Holly is an evergreen tree that offers a refreshing scent in the springtime, and blooms with small green and off white flowers. The Holly sign is regal, noble and lovingly high-minded. People born under this sign often find themselves in positions of leadership. Holly’s are very determined and known for overcoming obstacles. They are also quite intelligent.
The Seeker: Elderberry
November 25th - December 23rd. This shrub/tree is a beautiful, giving plant. Revered by herbalists across cultures, it’s berries are delicious and offer potent immune system support. Elderberry is a wonderful tree to plant in honor of someone who loved herbs and natural healing. In Celtic astrology, the Elderberry sign is known as the thrill seeker and might have a wild history. They tend to move very quickly and speak honestly, but with good intentions. Elderberry’s want to be helpful and try to be considerate of others.