Pruning – Chinese Cedar

Chinese Cedar

Common name Chinese Cedar ‘Flamingo’
Botanical name Toona sinensis
Family Meliaceae
Natural range East Asia
Mature height to 10m
Form Slender and upright
Likes Nutrient-rich soil
Dislikes Warm weather
Where to plant Full sun
Known for Pink new growth in spring

Do Cedar trees grow in China?

They most certainly do. This clumping, beautiful tree with pink foliage originates from China. However, if you are driving around temperate areas all around the world in Spring – especially in the colder, hilly regions – you will definitely notice the distinctive pink leaves of the feature Chinese Cedar poking through the green foliage of another.

Unique, but often mistaken for a weed

The Chinese Cedar is a unique tree that does bear some resemblance to the weed known as ‘Tree of Heaven’ but this one is genuinely heavenly.

How to Chinese Cedars grow?

This pink specimen features narrow upright growth, which is handy for home gardeners with limited space. At most, they are likely to reach around 8m tall in Australia and they do become slightly broader with age. The smooth, brownish grey bark becomes grooved later. The twigs are a coppery green and have soft hair. When damaged, the bark and leaves give off an unpleasant odour. The bark has a peeling habit and peels off in long strips.

A popular deciduous tree, perfect for gardens

The most popular cultivar is known as Toona sinensis ‘Flamingo’ and as the name suggests, those slender, erect branches bear new leaves of rich warm-pink in early spring. Over time these leaves become green toward summer and the tree blends into its neighbours for another year, but for a few short weeks (usually around September) this tree is a real standout.

How do you grow one?

Toona sinensis likes well-drained soil and a sunny sheltered site. Try to avoid north-facing sites and heavy, wet clay soils. Chinese Cedars grow quickly in favourable conditions and soon form a clump of suckering stems. This is their standard form – multiple stems emanating from one basal growth. Growing from seed is always a challenge for any gardener. We recommend getting some seedlings from the nursery, or a young tree, which will be ready to go.

Once it has started clumping you can keep cutting the taller trees if you wish to keep a smaller size. After a few years it should forming young trees from the suckers – these can be used to start new clumps elsewhere in your garden or to treat your friends.

Facts about Chinese Cedar Trees
  1. Chinese cedar trees are also known as Chinese arborvitae or Oriental arborvitae
  2. These trees are native to China, Korea, and Mongolia, and are commonly grown in gardens and parks for their attractive appearance.
  3. Chinese cedar trees can grow up to 20-30 meters tall, with a trunk diameter of up to 2 meters.
  4. The leaves of Chinese cedar trees are scale-like and arranged in opposite pairs along the stem. The leaves are green and turn yellow-brown in the fall.
  5. The wood of Chinese cedar trees is lightweight and durable, making it ideal for construction and furniture making.
  6. The bark of Chinese cedar trees is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat various ailments such as coughs, bronchitis, and asthma.
  7. Chinese cedar trees are tolerant of drought, pollution, and salt spray, making them a popular choice for urban landscapes.
  8. In Chinese culture, the Chinese cedar tree is considered a symbol of longevity, as it can live for over a thousand years.
  9. The seeds of Chinese cedar trees are edible and can be used in cooking, either raw or roasted.
  10. The resin from Chinese cedar trees has been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a topical treatment for skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

In summary, Chinese cedar trees are a beautiful and versatile species of tree, with a rich cultural history and many practical uses.

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