Sourwood Tree

joetoeMarch 31, 2012

I am planing to put a Sourwood Tree in near my Patio and would like to know if anyone has one and if you would plant another one?

Also what are the likes and dislikes about this tree?

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Quite nice but a definite tree, not to be planted too near anything or in too small a space - and not lending itself to being whacked back. Slow but eventually as much as 50' or more tall, although such height requires many years and you don't see ones that big every time.

Mature shape varies widely, with some broader and dumpier, others almost columnar (those will be the 50' ones, in some instances).

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 10:55AM
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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

Sourwood needs an acid, highly organic soil like that required by rhododendrons. In Z5, in my experience, it often suffers from branch dieback, especially in the first few years after planting. Like a number of plants native to the Southeast, it tends to keep growing into late summer, early fall. The last wood has little chance to ripen before cold temperatures and is killed over the winter. As the tree matures, this problem seems to diminish considerably.

Sourwood is a beautiful small tree, well worth growing for its autumn color alone, but as bboy noted, it is not a fast growing species. In Z5 it will grow even slower and may be severely damaged by temperatures in the -10 to -15 range.

Since sourwood has a dense fibrous root system , again much like a rhododendron, there would be little chance that the roots would effect a patio assuming it was not planted too close.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 8:19AM
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Would I be better off with another tree? If so what would be a nice tree to take it place?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 10:49AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Provide more details of the situation for most useful replies.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 2:02PM
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I have clay soil and it is acidic and where the tree would go is 25 feet from my house and 10 feet from the patio.

The back of my house faces East which is where the Patio is.

I try to fit a tree so that I can get birds in my backyard. I will need a nice shade tree there.

If you need more information please ask me what you need to know.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 4:13PM
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jimbobfeeny(5a IN)

If you want something other than sourwood, and want to bring birds to your backyard, AND you want a small tree, I would suggest Allegheny serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis). It is quite a bit more hardy than sourwood, and the max it would get would be 30 ft., so I've heard. Allegheny serviceberry is actually borderline shrub/tree - It can be pruned to have a single trunk, but it often grows naturally as a multi-stemmed small tree. It gets loads of sweet berries, which birds love. The only problem with it would be having to clean up bird feces if the tree is planted too close to a patio. It is a nice, well-behaved tree, other than that. Serviceberry likes acidic soil, although it is not quite as particular as the heaths(Rhododendron, sourwood, etc).

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 10:43AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

My 30 footer broke off about two feet from the ground in a ice storm this past winter. It was planted in the open, but still had a slight lean. That was enough to do it in. I have another, much smaller one that I'm going to move to a more suitable location.
I'm not giving up yet.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 12:11PM
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Amelanchier laevis is lovely! It's the only understory flowering tree of any significance in the hardwood forest of southern and eastern Ontario. The flowers and coppery emerging leaves emerge 10-14 days before any of the other tree leaves and really stand-out.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 12:26PM
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There are several large sourwoods where I work. The fall color is stunning and the leaves are nice and glossy. It is a native plant here, but not common. The bark is interesting looking. I don't know how old these trees are, but they must have some age since they are at least a food diameter and 3 to 4 stories tall.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 9:17PM
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I would like a Sourwood but I have had 2 of them and both died, I believe because under the ground was a big chunk of blacktop that someone put there.

I would put the tree in a different spot, yes I did take the blacktop out.

I have thought of Blackgum tree but they tell me it has a yap root and if cut they will not live. Also I was looking at the Persain Parrotia has anyone had experience with these trees?

I also was looking at the Dawn Redwood but that tree would be way to big where I would put it.

If you have any suggestions please give your thoughts they are very welcome and we all learn from them.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 4:05AM
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donnaroyston(z7a VA)

Love the amelanchiers. I highly recommend them.

Little acorn, buy a blackgum that is young and container grown. It's true, they have an amazing taproot. You don't want to cut it and you sure don't want to try to plant it into the ground, because it goes really deep. I like to plant small trees from RareFind. Then let the tree put down its strong taproot in place.

I planted a sourwood once but it was sickly and died. I knew it would be a more difficult proposition than many other trees.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 5:59PM
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