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Katsura Tree

Katsura Tree

The Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) is a very special large shrub or small, well-formed garden tree. The flowers appear before the leaves in March. The male flowers of the Katsura tree are red; the female flowers are light green. They are not very noticeable. After flowering, follicles that contain the seeds form. The budding of the heart-shaped leaves is bronze. During the summer they turn bluish green. But this tree does not get really spectacular until autumn. Then it turns colourful, and when the leaves fall, they smell strongly of sweet spices and gingerbread. The bark is greyish brown and with age it separates from the trunk in strips.

Buying a Katsura Tree

The green-leaved Katsura tree is most commonly found in gardens and parks. It displays colourful leaves in autumn. There is also a red-leaved variety, Cercidiphyllum japonicum 'Rotfuchs'. This variety has dark red leaves and has picturesque, very decorative growth. All types in the Lubera shop convince due to their stunning growth, their beautiful autumn colouration and of course because of the smell that they exude.

   
 
   
 

The Best Location

The Katsura tree comes from East Asia. It is found mainly in Japan and China, where it is a popular tree for gardens and parks due to its beautiful conical growth habit, the magnificent autumn colour and the special scent of its foliage. Colloquially, it is therefore often called the Japanese cake tree. In humid weather, the leaves smell very strongly of cinnamon, caramel and gingerbread spices. As soon as the leaves dry, the fragrance goes away again. This tree needs space because it grows pretty fast. It is best used as a solitary planting. For natural gardens, forest gardens and as a solitary in larger parks, it is a great addition. And of course, the Katsura tree should not be missing in any Japanese garden! Wild-growing specimens can grow up to 30 metres high. In the garden, however, they remain smaller and reach 8 to 10 metres high and several metres wide with age. The location should be bright and sunny, but rather cool. This tree also likes high humidity. In nature, it grows along rivers and streams in the mountain areas. It thrives in every normal garden soil. The ideal soil should be calcareous with clay and sand. If the soil is slightly acidic, the leaves turn a very intense colour. To fully enjoy its scent, it is often planted next to a sitting area, in front of a balcony or along a path. Katsura trees are frost hardy. The young shoots can sometimes be damaged by late frosts. Therefore, it should be planted in a more sheltered, not too cold location and not in a cold trap.

Planting a Katsura Tree

Since they are sold in a container, these trees can be planted in virtually any season, as long as the soil is frost-free. The classic planting time is in autumn or spring. If the tree is planted in the summer, it must be watered very well. To plant proceed as follows: dig out a neatly sized planting hole of at least half a metre in depth and diameter. Loosen the soil all around. Add some compost. Remove the tree from the pot, tear open the roots and loosen them. They have to be fanned out nicely and not allowed to tangle. Then carefully place the plant in the hole, spread the roots out well and make sure that the tree is the same height as it was in the container. Fill with soil and press well. Make a watering edge out of the soil around the hole so that the water does not flow away. Soak the freshly planted tree well. In the first year, it also has to be watered regularly. Later, too, it needs enough water during dry periods.

Do You Have To Cut It?

No, its growth habit is naturally very harmonious and at a young age, it has a beautiful conical growth. With age it develops a roundish shape. Older trees are sometimes quite wide, but they are then still very uniformly shaped. That's why you should not cut them. Only dead shoots should be removed. If the crown becomes too powerful over the years, individual shoots can be shortened. This tree should be pruned as little as possible.

Propagation

On the one hand you can harvest ripe seeds in October and sow them in the spring. On the other hand, this tree can be easily propagated by cuttings of young wood. These are cut in late May.

Are Pests and Diseases a Problem?

Fungal infection with Verticillium wilt can be a problem. First, there are wilted spots and in time entire branches can die off. The bark becomes cracked and sometimes crescents appear. The affected shoots must be removed and destroyed immediately. Commercial sprays do not help because the pathogens are inside the branches. Therefore, one must be careful that the first symptoms are soon recognised and the affected parts are removed immediately. When sprouting, the leaves sometimes become withered and the solid green foliage suddenly becomes pale and limp. Then you must not hesitate and must cut away the affected shoots immediately. The pruning shears or saw must then be disinfected. Otherwise, there are hardly any problems with this tree.

Growing in a Pot

You can cultivate a young tree in a larger pot for several years. This way it is possible to enjoy the intense scent of its autumn foliage on a balcony or terrace. When planted in the pot this tree must be fertilised regularly and you must never forget to water it because such larger shrubs or small trees in pots are sensitive to dryness. But over the years it will want to be planted outside and then you should find a spot for it in the garden. If necessary, it would also be possible to take it out of the pot every three or four years, cut back the roots and replant it with fresh soil, a bit like bonsai trees. However, a large shrub or tree will, of course, need a big container, as you certainly cannot keep it small forever.

 

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