Growing and caring for Liquidambar

Growing & Caring for – Liquidambar

Liquidambar: Growing and Caring for this Controversial tree!

The liquidambar, also known as sweetgum, is a deciduous tree that is native to North America, Asia, and the Mediterranean region. It is prized for its brilliant fall foliage and attractive spiky fruits. If you are looking to grow and care for a liquidambar, there are several things you need to know.

Choosing the Right Location for Your Liquidambar

The first step to growing a healthy liquidambar is choosing the right location for it. The tree prefers well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. It can tolerate a range of soil types, including clay, loam, and sand. However, it does not tolerate wet soils, so make sure the planting site has good drainage.

Planting and Watering Your Liquidambar

Once you have chosen the right location, it’s time to plant your liquidambar. The best time to plant is in the spring or fall when the soil is moist and temperatures are mild. Make sure the planting hole is twice the diameter of the root ball and just as deep. Gently spread the roots out and backfill with soil, making sure to water the tree thoroughly after planting.

During the first growing season, make sure to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Once the tree is established, it can tolerate periods of drought, but it will benefit from occasional deep watering during dry spells.

Pruning and Maintenance of Your Liquidambar

Regular pruning is not necessary for liquidambar trees, but it can help shape the tree and promote healthy growth. Prune in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. Remove any dead or damaged branches, as well as any crossing or rubbing branches. Aim to maintain a single trunk and a balanced canopy.

Mulching around the base of the tree can help retain soil moisture and suppress weeds. Apply a 5-10cm layer of organic mulch, such as shredded bark or leaves, but make sure to keep the mulch away from the trunk to prevent moisture buildup and pest problems.

Pest and Disease Management

Liquidambar trees are generally hardy and resistant to pests and diseases. However, they can be susceptible to borers, scale insects, and leaf spot diseases in humid conditions. Regular inspection and pruning can help prevent these problems. If pest or disease problems do arise, contact a certified arborist for advice on appropriate management.

Interesting Facts about Liquidambar Trees
  • The spiky fruits of the liquidambar are called “gumballs” or “monkey balls” and are often used in crafts and home decor.
  • The resin of the liquidambar tree has been used for medicinal and industrial purposes for centuries.
  • The wood of the liquidambar tree is commonly used for furniture, veneer, and flooring.
  • Liquidambar trees can live for over 400 years in optimal conditions.
  • In addition to its fall color, the liquidambar tree also has attractive glossy leaves that turn bright green in the spring.
Links for Further Reading:
  1. Tree Care Industry Association – Liquidambar: https://tcia.org/why-hire-a-tcia-arborist/find-a-tree-care-company/resources/tree-care-tips/liquidambar
  2. University of Florida – Liquidambar Styraciflua: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/st542
  3. Gardening Know How – Sweetgum Tree Care: Tips For Growing Liquidambar Trees: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/trees/sweetgum/sweetgum-tree
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