Growing Catalpa

Latin Name Pronunciation: kah-tal'-pah

A broad, irregularly rounded medium-size tree, the Catalpa is prized for its 3-6in, heart-shaped leaves and showy, erect clusters of white flowers striped with yellow. Long, bean-like seedpods add winter interest to this handsome native tree. The golden form, 'Aurea', makes a dazzling landscape specimen.

Light: Full sun.

Soil: Prefers deep, well-drained soil but adapts to dry or wet soils when established.

Watering: The key to getting your new tree off to a good start is moisture. Water thoroughly after planting, and keep a close eye on the plant over the following week. Then, give it a good soaking once a week during summer, unless rainfall is plentiful (more than 1in per week). Established plants can generally get by on less water, but most grow best if the soil remains evenly moist. Please note that more is not better. When in doubt, don't water.

Fertilizer: We recommend against fertilizing at planting time and during the first growing season in your garden. Plants need time to settle in before being pushed to grow. Most established plants grow best if fertilized with a light hand. Here at the Farm, we fertilize our specimen trees and shrubs just once -- in early spring -- with a light but even coverage of a balanced, granular fertilizer (such 5-10-10, 10-10-10, or an organic fertilizer). If a concentrated, water-soluble fertilizer is used, please follow the manufacturers' recommendations carefully.

Continuing Care: Easily grown and tolerant of most environmental conditions. Allow ample space for it to spread. Protect the thin bark of young trees from impact or rodents. Potential problems include the catalpa sphinx caterpillar, dieback, and powdery mildew.