Catalpa: Planting And Care In The Open Ground, Species And Varieties With Photos

The catalpa is a member of the genus Bignonia. It can be found in the wild in the West Indies, China, North America and Japan. Catalpa cambogia has long been used by Indians as a medicinal plant for whooping cough and malaria. They called this plant "catoba", but the botanist and doctor from Italy Scopoli, who was the first to describe this genus, without any malice, slightly changed the Indian name to "catalpa". This genus, according to various sources, includes about 10-38 species.

Individual species are cultivated as ornamental plants in various parts of the Earth, for example in Belarus, Ukraine and the southern regions of Russia.

Peculiarities of Catalpa

Catalpa: planting and care in the open ground, species and varieties with photos

The ornamental Catalpa is a very beautiful evergreen or deciduous tree, which height does not exceed 20 meters. The crown shape is rounded. Most species have leaf blades supropositively arranged, there are also whorled, they have long petioles and heart-shaped, their size is approximately 30x17 centimeters. Such a tree blooms very spectacularly.

Its fragrant flowers are about 7 centimeters long and funnel-shaped and cream or white, with dark spots and dots in the shed. Flowers are part of the pyramidal paniculate upright inflorescences. The fruit is a dangling pod-like capsule up to 0.4 m long. Inside these fruits there are a huge number of volatile seeds.

This plant blossoms in the second half of June or first days of July, and the unusual fruits do not fall from the tree throughout the winter period.

Catalpa. Features of the catalpa. Care of the catalpa.

Planting the catalpa in the open ground

Catalpa: planting and care in the open ground, species and varieties with photos

The catalpa should be planted and cared for just like any ornamental tree.

Annual or biennial catalpa seedlings are available at nurseries or garden centers. Planting in the open ground in the spring, before the sap starts to flow or in autumn, when the decay of leaves. For planting should choose a well-lit area with reliable protection from gusts of wind, the fact that large and extremely fragile leaf plates of such a tree are easily injured in a draught. It is very good if on the selected site the groundwater table will be as deep as possible. This plant needs space, so a distance of 4 to 5 meters, no less, should be observed between the seedling and any other plant.

The depth of the planting hole should be 100 centimeters and the width should be 70 centimeters. Prepare the soil mixture to fill the hole, to do this, combine humus, leaf soil, sand and peat, taken in a ratio of 3:2:2:1. This mixture should be combined with 5-8 kilograms of wood ash and 50 grams of phosphate flour. This soil mixture should have an acidity of 6,5-7,5.

At the bottom of the planting hole you should first make a drainage layer, the thickness of which should be 15 centimeters.

Crushed stone or broken bricks can be used as drainage material. After that the pit should be filled with a soil mixture saturated with nutrients almost to the top. Then the root system of the seedling should be placed there, and then the hole should be completely filled with the same mixture. After the soil is slightly compacted, the plant should be abundantly watered. During planting, try to ensure that the root neck of the tree was slightly elevated above the surface of the ground.

In this case, when the water after watering is absorbed into the soil, the root neck of the catalpa should sink to the level of the ground. Do not forget to mulch the bedding circle after watering with any organic material (peat works well).

Catalpa. From sowing seeds to planting.

Catalpa care

Catalpa: planting and care in the open ground, species and varieties with photos

Catalpa is a moisture loving plant, therefore it should be watered once a week, especially in hot and dry periods.

If a tree lacks water, its ornamental value will decrease sharply since the leaves will lose their turgor and sag. One full-grown catalpa requires 20 liters of water per watering. If the summer is damp or cool, watering can be reduced to 2-3 times a month. The same amount of watering is required for a plant with a mulched ridge. After rain or watering, it is advisable to loosen the soil surface in the root zone to a depth of 0.

3 m and weed at the same time. If there is a prolonged dry spell, the amount of watering should be increased.


Don't forget to feed the tree systematically. To do this, apply a solution of decomposed manure (1:10) to the soil and allow 5 to 6 liters of nutrient solution per 1 mature tree. Such feeding is carried out 2 times a season.

It is recommended to feed the catalpa with Nitroammophoska in spring and with phosphorus and potassium in autumn; at this time it does not need nitrogen.


Catalpa: planting and care in the open ground, species and varieties with photos

Trimming is recommended in spring before the buds swell. During this procedure all branches that are damaged, dried out, frost damaged, diseased or pest damaged should be removed. The tree is usually shaped with a trunk height of 120 to 200 centimeters, above it the plant branched into a sprawling low crown of 4 or 5 scaffold branches. Shorten the branches if necessary after a while and remove the thickening stems and branches.

Diseases and Pests

Catalpa: planting and care in the open ground, species and varieties with photos

Catalpa is highly resistant to both diseases and pests. But when the plant is very weak, Spanish flies can settle on it. To kill them, you will need to treat the plant twice with pyrethroid (Fastac or Decis). Stem pests - hornets - can also settle on this plant, they are hymenopterous insects, and their adults look very similar to hornets. The wood of such a tree serves as a place for adult females to lay their eggs.

After some time, the larvae emerge from them, making holes in the wood and then clogging them with borax. Catalpas infested by such larvae become very weak and gradually wither away. More often than not, cattails die, but remember that if the tree is completely healthy and strong, it will not be affected by any pests.

Catalpa can be affected by Verticillosis wilt, in which case from the middle of the summer you will notice yellowing, drooping and dying of the leaf plates on the lower part of its crown. Such a fungal disease is serious enough that it often causes the tree to lose its leaves on one side only and to look lopsided.

If the disease is just beginning to develop, the plant can try to cure, for this it should be watered under the root with Rovral or Maxim, as well as treated with Fundazol or Topsin-M. For prevention, trees can be sprayed with fungicides such as: Quadris, Previcur or Falcon.

Growing in the Moscow suburbs

Catalpa: planting and care in the open ground, species and varieties with photos

If you are going to cultivate such a tree in the middle belt, you should choose frost-resistant species and varieties for planting. The most frost-resistant species has such a species as the magnificent catalpa. In the middle latitudes it is still possible to grow catalpa bignonievidnaya and ovoid.

Also the following varieties are suitable for cultivation in the Moscow suburbs:

  1. Aurea. The color of the leaves is golden.
  2. Picta. The color of the leaf plates is variegated, mottled.
  3. Nana.

    This compact form is non-flowering.

  4. Plena. The flowers in this cultivar are terry.

For the cultivation of the catalpa to be successful, several important nuances must be remembered. A sunny site should be chosen for planting, and the soil should be moist loam with a neutral reaction.

Catalpa should be placed in dense coniferous plantings or on the southern side of the building. In the first two or three years it will need basic protection from wind gusts and it should be well covered during the winter. Older, winter-hardy specimens do not need to be covered. If they do get very frosty, they can make a full recovery quite easily once the growing season begins.

Garden ornamental plants.

Catalpa or monkey tree Garden World Website

Propagation of Catalpa

The generative (seed) method as well as the vegetative - cuttings are used for propagation of Catalpa. Seeds do not need to be stratified before sowing.

How to grow from seed

Catalpa: planting and care in the open ground, species and varieties with photos

Sow the seedlings in February or March. Immediately before sowing, the seeds should be immersed in warm water for 8-12 hours. Sowing can also be done in autumn, but the seeds should not be soaked.

Make furrows in the substrate, in which the seeds are then placed, they should be covered with a layer of soil on top. Container should be covered with glass or film, and placed in a warm (20 to 22 degrees) and well-lit place. Do not forget to protect the crops from direct sunlight, as well as provide them with systematic airing and watering. Sprouts that have hardened over the winter should be planted in the spring when the threat of a return frost has passed (about mid to late May).


Catalpa: planting and care in the open ground, species and varieties with photos

Sprouts should be prepared in the second half of summer.

Cuttings should be approximately 8 cm long and have a few buds present. Mature specimens should be selected for harvesting. For rooting, cuttings are planted in a soil mixture consisting of sand and peat, and then cover the top with a transparent cap, which will help create the necessary greenhouse effect. The cuttings should be taken care of in the same way as the seedlings. You can tell that the cuttings are fully rooted by the young leaf plates that have appeared.

Plant them in the open soil from the middle to the end of May.

Catalpa. Method of propagation and cultivation

Catalpa species and varieties with photos and names

Horticulturists cultivate only a small number of species of catalpa. They will be described below.

Catalpa common (Catalpa bignonioides), or catalpa bignonioides

Catalpa: planting and care in the open ground, species and varieties with photos

In wild conditions it can be found in North America, this species prefers to grow on riverbanks.

It can grow to a height of up to 20 meters. The sprawling crown is broadly rounded. The color of the thinly-veined bark is pale brown. In such a tree, the pale green leaf plates deserve special attention, they look very similar to the leaves of lilacs, but they are larger. They are up to 20 centimeters long and up to 15 centimeters wide.

Their front surface is bare and the reverse is pubescent along the veins. If you crush such a leaf, you can feel a not very pleasant smell. Fragrant white flowers are about 5 centimeters long and have two yellow stripes in their pharynx and a brownish-red mottle on the surface. They are part of loose pyramidal-shaped inflorescences, which reach a width of 20 centimeters and a length of 30 centimeters. Flowering lasts about 20 days.

The fruit is a narrow, long (about 40 centimeters) pod with a pod-like shape and small seeds inside. Cultivated since 1726. Ornamental forms:

Catalpa: planting and care in the open ground, species and varieties with photos

  1. Aurea (golden). The foliage coloration is deep yellow.
  2. Kene.

    The yellow leaf plates have green veins and a spot of dark color in the center.

  3. Low (nana). This bush form has a spherical crown.

Catalpa speciosa, or beautiful catalpa

Catalpa: planting and care in the open ground, species and varieties with photos

Native to the eastern regions of North America, such plants prefer to grow on the banks of rivers and lakes. The height of this spectacular tree does not exceed 30 meters and the crown shape is broadly pyramidal.

On the surface of the slender trunk there is a thin-plate bark of gray color. The green glossy long-petioled leaflets are smooth on the outside, 30 centimeters long and 15 centimeters wide. They grow somewhat earlier than in other catalpa species. There is slight pubescence on the underside of the leaves. The fragrant creamy-white flowers are 7 centimeters long and have an undulating edge with a pair of yellow stripes and brownish-purple dots on the inside surface.

They are part of broad, panicle-shaped inflorescences, which vary in length from 15 to 20 centimeters. The fruit is a very long boll (about 0.56 m) which splits into two leaves at maturity. It has been cultivated since the 1800s. The most popular ornamental form is powdered or powdery: on the surface of the leaf plates there are many white and cream-colored spots.

Catalpa ovata (Catalpa ovata)

Catalpa: planting and care in the open ground, species and varieties with photos

Native of Central China. This tree is about 10 meters tall, but rarely exceeds 3.5 meters when grown in the garden. Cultivated in the middle latitudes, this catalpa often freezes, so its height in this strip does not exceed 150 centimeters. The fragrant white-cream flowers have a purple pharynx.

They are part of panicles reaching 25 centimeters in length. The fruit is a long (about 0.45 m) pod. This species is noted for its light-loving nature and also needs a nutritious and moist soil.

Catalpa fargesii (Catalpa fargesii)

Catalpa: planting and care in the open ground, species and varieties with photos

In nature can be found in Western China in warm forests.

This deciduous tree does not exceed 20 meters in height. The supratip spaced, full-edged, simple leaflets are similar in appearance to those of the lilac, green in color, and have petioles ten centimeters long. On their front surface, the pubescence is not as dense as on the back. The purplish-pink or pink flowers are about 35 mm long, with dark purplish splotches on the inner surface of the corolla. Paniculate inflorescences consist of 7-15 flowers.

It blooms 4 weeks earlier than other catalpa species. It is a very ornamental tree.

Catalpa hybrida or globe-shaped catalpa

Catalpa: planting and care in the open ground, species and varieties with photos

This hybrid is created by crossing egg-shaped and common catalpa. This plant grows up to 16m tall and has a rounded crown. Its large pale green leaves are pubescent on the lower surface.

If such a leaf is rubbed, you can feel a not very pleasant odor. Large, loose inflorescences consist of flowers that reach 25 mm in length. This species is the most popular in landscape design.

Catalpa in landscape design

Catalpa: planting and care in the open ground, species and varieties with photos

Catalpa is characterized by fast growth, resistance to poor conditions as well as its unpretentiousness. It can be used as a solitary planting in front of your office, café or store.

Such a plant can be planted along the shoreline of any body of water. By combining different types of catalpa (e.g. purple and gold leaf blades) you can achieve even more decorative effects. Since this tree is resistant to pollution, it is increasingly used for landscaping city streets.

In city parks one can see catalpas that are surrounded by a hedge of dogwood or hawthorn, such a "composition" looks very effective throughout the season.

In gardens and dachas the most common are catalpa magnificent and bignoniform. Such a plant is a bright accent of the overall landscape. To increase the ornamental value of this tree, it is recommended to be planted next to deciduous magnolias or oaks. To decorate a small garden or yard, experts advise the use of not very tall varieties of such a plant, such as nana.


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