Tri Color Beech .... AGAIN!

thisismelissaMay 16, 2014

I'm hoping to get y'all's thoughts on this tree, again. I've read several other threads about it, now I'm really considering pulling the trigger.

KEN: I sent you an email about this... must've gone into your spam folder! I know you're a fan of the Tri-Color Beech. I was hoping to get your added comments on it.

A local garden center has several of these, from Monrovia. I saw that all the tags have been changed to say zone 5-7, instead of Monrovia saying 4-7. I'm sure this is just to cover them, not having to guarantee hardiness in extreme winters like the one we just had.

But I'm more curious about your own experience.

Can you tell me about where you have these sited?
A local garden guru says that it requires afternoon shade, or it will burn. How much sun/shade does yours get?
Does it burn?
If I put it in a place of prominence (like the front corner of my house), will it still look good come August, September?
Does it require protection from winter winds?
Can it handle some wet feet from time-to-time? (I'm told Beeches can)

Here are the sites I'm considering:
1. Front & Center of my east-facing front yard. Sun till 3pm, But this spot ends up with a lot of snow from the snow blower on the driveway
2. Front of house at corner. So it'd be on the NE corner. Sun till about 1pm.
3. In the hosta garden. It'd get early morning sun and a bit of late evening sun. I'd say maybe 3 hours total.
All areas are on our irrigation system. Our soil is light clay.

I appreciate your thoughts!

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Are you seeing any other European beech in your area, that have been there long enough to indicate some ability to endure your winters?

Here you can't miss them - especially all the purple ones.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 1:55PM
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mary4b(4b WI)

You've posted nearly my exact question!

It seems that the Tri-Color beeches are flooding the market this spring...I'm seeing a lot of them by Monrovia and others at both chain stores and finer nurseries. Lucky for all of us who have always wanted one, but couldn't find them. I bought a couple of 5' ones at Shopko (a NE Wisconsin chain)...on sale, I got them for just $42 each.

However, I am having a lot of consternation now about where to put them....especially after reading all of the threads.

It would be GREAT if someone from the north could give Melissa and me some advice on whether or not they can take some afternoon sun in the north. For me, that would open up my site options greatly. I'm not sure whether or not all the "burning" warnings might be coming from hotter climates? That's my hope!

Melissa...based on everything I've read, so as to avoid all of the "pitfalls", it seems like your #2 and #3 would be nearly ideal. If I had a great spot with either of those situations, I don't think I would hesitate. I might choose the more sheltered from the two, since you are in MN. My sister lives in the burbs near you and tried one in a protected spot about 10 years ago...she even removed something she really liked in order to give it the best possible chance to make it. It was dead the next spring after a normal MN winter. She felt the issue could partly be that a lot of the nursery stock is grown in the south, especially Oklahoma.

It seems like your hosta garden might be the best spot, except some may say that it could have better color if it would get a bit more that might sway you towards the #2 site.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 2:20PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Well, aside from them being from Monrovia, or, as I call them, Rootboundia...

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 2:35PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

I am sure Monrovia or your retailer wants to sell as many as possible. They either goofed or have a reason to mark it zone 5. Seems like a repetitive goof but Corsicana bedding just slipped up and put the wrong warranty info in a quite a few mattresses we just got.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 3:33PM
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Well, Monrovia's website still says zone 4. I think this is an issue with the retailer, honestly.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 4:45PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

lets be very clear... EVERY plant has its season ... you really dont complain about what a tulip looks like in august.. do you??? ..

this plant is sublime from leaf out.. until about mid july ... the white tissue will burn off in high heat ... period ... if you cant deal with it... then dont consider it ...

i had a z4 winter here in MI z5 ... as far as i know .. mine is leafing out just fine ... subject to last nights frost.. lol ..

mel.... grass watering systems are insufficient for recent tree transplants ... .i trust you know all about PROPER WATERING FOR TRANSPLANTED TREES????

the best world.. as much sunlight as possible.. and the least in the heat of the day ... which i would call 1 to 7 pm ...

i dont have one in a hosta bed.. hosta sunlight would be perfect ... again.. avoiding the heat of the day ... but i dont know how root friendly it is in the long term ...

on my 50 feet of sand.. i have no clue about wet feet ... lol ...

no winter wind damage ...but spring is at least 4 weeks late.. and mine are finally leafing out.. but i will keep an eye for delayed damage ... mine is on the east side of the house... protected from NW winter winds.. but the one in the pasture is not protected that way ...

i have to run for dinner... will reread this and add more later.. or tomorrow ...

this sums it up for me: i am a collector.. i want one of everything... and i have no use for duplicates.. or planting in groups of 3s .... but i have two of these ...

go figure ...


    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 5:41PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

I have mine between a Ginkgo biloba and a Davidia involucrata with a southern exposure. It gets a little shade in the early afternoon from a large Thuja plicata. Since my Pacific NW climate has no relationship to yours, my information doesn't do you much good, but I thought I'd post a picture I took today anyway.
Maybe a little pruning is in order. ;-)

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 6:55PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

This picture is for the benifit of those that wonder what a Tri-color Beech's leaves look like close up.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 7:02PM
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mary4b(4b WI)

Beautiful photos, Mike, thank you!

So Ken, let's talk about the one in the that tree in full on sunlight with no shade even from 1-7? I'd like the details on that one. Since you are a collector, you have good info to share for those of us who want a tree that is aesthetically pleasing near our home.

I understand the whole bit about not expecting perfection at the end of the season, but if folks think that full exposure until 2 pm would be pretty darn good, with shade after that, then I am moving forward with the planting as originally planned...

What's been throwing me off is the general expression: protect from afternoon that noon to 2, or 1 to 7, as you said....and are those people saying that even in the Midwest or is this really more of an issue for peeps in warmer climates.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 10:07PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Let me put this in perspective. I'm in zone 5a, roughly 25 miles away from the lake. I'm in a somewhat protected area surrounded by hills that are 1200 ft above sea level.

European Beech is the only deciduous tree to show consistent death this past year. These are 10-12' trees mind you that have been in the ground for 4 years, including a Tri Color. Same issue with dwarf specimens, like Mercedes. I'd avoid European Beech at all costs in zone 4. They can't even make a harsh zone 5 winter at the lower end.

As for Ken's zone 4 winter, all one has to do is look at Adrian's temperature records. They had just a few more sub zero days than that of an AVERAGE year the city of Milwaukee has, which is zone 5b mind you. I only see a hand full of lows just barely exceeding the average minimum low for zone 5b to boot. So no Ken you didn't have a zone 4 winter even though it may have personally felt like it.

Melissa, you average 40+ sub zero days a year if I'm not mistaken and your averag min low is -25ish. Can't say I'd recommend European Beech for your area, except for maybe the stronger growing cultivars like Riversii

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 11:01PM
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Mines dead after this winter, its third. So is the weeping purple leaf one.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 4:00AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

geez whass ... i have damage on things that never had damage in 15 years... so something happened ... and it WAS a z4 winter ... and i dont care what the stats say ... plain redbud damage.. pinus thunber damage ... cham damage ... etc ... some thuja with damage ... but not GGs .. things killed to the snow line .... and i dont challenge zone on anything... learned that expensive lesson long ago ...

no damage on TCB ....

anyway ... the pasture one ... probably gets 40 minutes of sun.. but is in clear blue sky ...

mel... you know all about white tissue on hosta... its a net negative to the plant.. producing no chlorophyll ... and melting out ... why cant you wrap your brain around white tissue on a tree... its the same deal ...

if the white tissue gives off more water.. than the plant can give it.. it browns.. crisps... and fall way ... leaving the purple part of the leaf ... just like a white edged hosta .. in too much sun ...

so you TRY to avoid sun during the hottest part of the day ... to TRY ... to reduce or delay ... the decline ... of the appearance ...

and to be clear ... i simply dont know.. if it will work in your zone ... get a warranty ...

where is junkie.. in comparison... and does he have one???? .. or know of any in your clime ....


    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 12:26PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Uummmm...I'll join in the fray here to say that if you look at where most of these are from, it's not surprising they aren't hardier than zn 5b. Most of western Europe is 7b (colder parts of Germany) to 8b (milder parts of SE England) and that's where most of them were bred or selected. (of course there are some outliers, zn 6 in some mountain areas and zn 9 along coasts...I'm talking big picture)

Yes if you went into the Carpathians or Alps you could probably find provenances of European beech that are fully zn 5 hardy but that's not where they were getting the seeds for these cultivars in most cases. IIRC there are some new German cultivars in the past decade or so. Maybe they are a bit hardier, maybe not. (German nurserypersons might be reasonably expected to have more of an interest in the colder markets of eastern Europe and Russia than UK ones)

As other people have said, not only can Roseomarginata grow in full sun in mild climates, in _really_ mild climates they can grow astonishingly fast. I saw a tree in Pallanza, Italy on the incredibly mild shores of Lake Maggiore (70+ inches of rain a year, spread year round with a slight summer peak, almost no droughts, zn 9, perfect volcanic soil, summers sunnier than NW Europe but not as sunny as the CONUS, etc. etc.) that was only planted in the 1950s and was close to 100 ft. tall with a 4' diameter trunk! Must have been growing almost 2 ft a year.

OTOH I know one in the garden of a collector outside DC that, last I checked in the late 2000s, was still alive. I had first seen it in the early 1990s. It had only grown about 10 ft. though, at most, (From 6 ft. to 15 ft. I'd guess) so it was only growing about 8-9 inches a year. It was in semi-shade with morning sun...he considered it a real prized plant and gave it a good spot. He said in the mid 2000s it still loses most leaves in hot dry years, even with afternoon shade.

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Sat, May 17, 14 at 20:52

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 8:45PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Ken, there is stuff dead and with die back in my yard that has looked great the 12 years I have been here and I had a winter which just scratched the "worst" zone 6 should have to offer. I'm of the honest opinion some of these zone ratings are just stretched to encourage sales. Crepe Myrtles and the like just are not reliable performers here no matter what Lowe's or Marigold's nursery or GardenWatchdog/Monrovia have to say unless you consider a plant which dies back to snow cover the definition of hardy.

Consider sizes are given on ten year totals frequently. Well, zone survival might be given on 10 year average survival. Honestly I THINK it has been about 30 years since we really had as much consistent cold as we had this year but that's still a big deal if I had a yard full of zone 7 plants.

Perhaps stressed plants are the ones which did not survive and sometimes we don't notice the stress during good years?

On a lighter note: You know, I lost track of an ex girlfriend who had her own definition of fidelity, perhaps she works for a commercial plant grower.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 12:23AM
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Well, my neighbor planted a beech last year. I don't know what kind, though.... its a plain green. It is budding now.

It's in a VERY exposed part of her yard and probably gets almost full-day of sun.

I stopped by the nursery that has the beeches and asked why they were re-tagged as zone 5. The nursery mgr said the D of Ag wanted them relabeled as z5, but then recanted that request after the end of last season. She said that these trees were last year's stock and were overwintered outdoors. They have 5 or so of them, all in bud, but one was starting to leaf.

This manager said she'd guaranty the tree for 1 year.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 8:09PM
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mary4b(4b WI)

Did you buy it, Melissa?

Since I only paid $42 for mine, I'm going to plant them and learn. I got 3 and each will be in a different location.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
This gamble is definitely prettier than a visit to the casino!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 12:38PM
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Hello - this is my first post to this forum, so please forgive my newbieness. I hope it is OK to post to this thread even though it is now 3 months later. My tri color beech has been dying for the past month and I am wondering if it is because of the terrible winter we had in Michigan 2013/14, although I am not sure why it would leaf out fine only to die in the summer... Has anyone else in northern areas had a problem this summer?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 6:12PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

down here in adrian mi ...

no damage to either TCB ....

much damage to many conifers ... no fruit flowers ...

but mine are not surrounded by black top ... perhaps winter sun.. reflected and retained heat.. caused some problems ...

i had a zone 4 winter.. instead of my usual cold z5 ...


    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 6:17PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Have you ever given it a good soaking this Summer?
It looks like it has a lot of competition for water.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 6:31PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Yes, several borderline trees leafed and are now starting to show signs of decline likely due to the winter.

Is your declining because of that? Hard to say for sure.

A large one at the Milwaukee county zoo had some decent winter damage, protected location and zone 5b.

Temps and moisture this summer likely have nothing to do with it.

From what I've seen you've had a similar summer like us. Fairly average rainfall and mild temps.

Are there any splits or holes in the main trunk?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 9:50PM
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