Were you familiar with all the trees CLC Tree Services mentioned in our article on best trees to plant in London? There was one which may have surprised you. Cercidiphyllum japonica is native to China and Japan, but was thought to have been introduced to North America in 1865 by an American consul to Japan. It is a medium-sized tree and crowd favourite with CLC customers. Reminiscent of redbuds with their heart-shaped leaves, similarities end there. If you aren’t familiar with this tree with multi-season interest, let me introduce you to katsura.
Katsura trees grow to approximately 15-18 m or 40-60 feet. They prefer rich, moist, well-drained soil and need full sun to flourish. When young and during periods of drought, they require extra watering. London’s higher pH acidity level is preferable for this popular tree. You can safely plant these pest-resistant species here in London and most anywhere in USDA hardiness zones 4-8.
The Royal Horticultural Society gave the katsura an Award of Garden Merit for a reason. This beautiful, pyramidal tree is more-or-less disease free and, despite its non-native status, is not invasive. It is dioecious with small, insignificant blossoms in spring, which produce 1-2 cm long pods in the fall with winged seeds. The bark is brown and becomes shaggy as it matures. The ovate leaves of the katsura are the real crowd pleasers though.
In the spring, katsura leaves are a reddish-purple colour. By summer, the leaves turn an attractive bluish-green shade. As the seasons progress, the show continues; in the fall your katsura tree transforms into a lovely yellowy-orange to red showpiece in the yard. As a bonus, the autumn foliage has a cotton candy or burnt sugar scent that is hard to miss.
As far as pruning goes, the katsura is prone to suckering. If left to its own devices, it becomes a multi-stemmed tree. If you prefer a single trunk, early pruning is required. As with any other tree, prune any dead or damaged limbs to keep your tree healthy.
If we have peaked your interest in Cercidiphyllum japonica, now is the time to plant one. Spring is the best time to plant katsuras and March 20th just happens to be the First Day of Spring. This beautiful ornamental will bring shade to your garden, thereby reducing energy costs, plus helps to sink carbon, improving your green footprint. If you are looking to plant a katsura tree in your yard this spring, CLC Tree Services just might be able to help. Contact CLC with any other questions you may have.
Happy tree planting!