So You Want To Plant A Northern Catalpa Tree

Known for their lacy white flowers and almost shiny green leaves, northern catalpa trees add interest to landscapes across the mid-western and eastern United States. If you're thinking of adding one of these stunning trees to your yard, here's what you need to know about planting and caring for a young northern catalpa.

Choosing a Site For Your Catalpa Tree

When choosing a site for your catalpa tree, keep in mind that when the tree is mature, it will likely measure between 40 and 60 feet in height, and between 20 and 40 feet in width. Do not plant it too close your home or another structure, or you may find that you need to have it removed later when its branches start invading your building.

Catalpa trees thrive in full sunlight, so make sure the site you select gets at least 4 hours of sunlight daily. Thankfully, the trees are quite tolerant of most soil types, so you don't have to be too discerning of soil quality or run any soil tests before selecting a site for your catalpa.

Planting Your Catalpa Tree

It is easiest to plant a catalpa from a sapling that you purchase at a home and garden store, rather than trying to plant it from seed. When you visit a store that sells trees, make sure you select a tree that has a thick main stem and very plentiful leaves. Trees with thinner stems and sparse foliage will have a harder time surviving transplantation.

Dig a generously sized hole, and place the root ball inside. Bury the tree just up to the bulge where the trunk meets the roots; burying it further may promote rot. Water the tree in well. If rain is scarce, you may want to apply a layer of wood mulch in a circle around the tree to keep moisture in the soil.

Caring For Your Young Catalpa Tree

Unless rain is plentiful, you'll want to water your young catalpa every few days for its first few months in the ground. After a couple of months, its root system will be more established, and it will be able to glean water from further beneath the ground, so you won't need to water it anymore.

If you want to have your catalpa trimmed to ensure it maintains an attractive shape, be sure to start this when the tree is young and more easily molded. Catalpas don't necessarily need regular tree trimming, but doing so during the first few years can ensure that they grow more upright.

Your catalpa tree won't start blooming until it is about 7 years old. However, its beauty when it does bloom will be well worth the wait.