How to Grow Silk Trees (Albizia Julibrissin)

Persian silk tree with pink flowers and fern-like leaves

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

The silk tree (Albizia julibrissin) is a pretty looking tree with fern-like leaves and exotic-looking flowers. On each leaf there are tiny leaflets that close when touched or as the sun sets. The stunning pink flowers that initially drew attention towards the silk tree inspire the origin of its common name. Each fragrant blossom is a silky pom-pom-like flower that starts with a white base and culminates with a shockingly pink tip.  

While the tree is stunningly ornamental, it is also frustratingly weedy. It was introduced to the United States in 1745 by the famous botanist André Michaux. Since that time, it has naturalized in twenty-five states. It is extraordinarily adaptable and does very well growing in disturbed soil and roadsides.

Despite its invasive tendencies, the silk tree is beautiful and is very attractive to pollinators, including hummingbirds.   

Botanical Name   Albizia  julibrissin
Common Name  Silk Tree, Pink Silk Tree, Persian Silk Tree
Plant Type   Deciduous Tree
Mature Size  20-40 Feet Tall 20-50 Foot Spreed
Sun Exposure  Full Sun to Part Shade
Soil Type  Average, medium moisture, well-drained
Soil pH  Adaptable
Bloom Time  June to July
Flower Color  Pink
Hardiness Zones  6-9
Native Area   Iran to Japan
Toxicity  Yes

Silk Tree (Albizia Julibrissin) Care

The silk tree is certainly beautiful, but it has to be considered with some caution before planting. If in the Midwest or South, check if it is legal to plant. It is currently listed as invasive in six states. Individual localities may have it in “do not plant” ordinances in other locations. 

A notorious spreader, the seeds of the Albizia Julibrissin travel and grow in disturbed areas like roadsides, woodland edges, and open fields, so it can be difficult to control without careful measures.

Other than the fact that it can get a bit untidy and needs to be planted a distance from structures due to weak wood that breaks easily under ice load and high winds, there is no simpler tree to grow once it gets going. 

The silk tree is a very hardy species tolerant of a wide range of soil and moisture conditions, bolstered by its roots’ ability to fix nitrogen.

Persian silk tree with pink flowers closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Persian silk tree with pink flower and fern-like branch closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Persian silk tree light pink flower and buds closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Light

The tree tolerates partial shade but is generally considered intolerant of shade. Albizia Julibrissin will thrive in full sunlight, promoting fuller foliage and abundant flowering. 

Soil

The silk tree tolerates a wide range of soil conditions and is even adapted to poor varieties. The tree’s nitrogen-fixing properties allow it to grow well in soils where other plants would suffer.  

It can also handle acidic to moderately alkaline soil pH with ease and is a good choice for landscapes that need solutions for high alkaline areas. 

Water

The tree’s habit of naturalizing in wet to dry sites shows that Albizia Julibrissin is adaptable regarding moisture conditions. Giving a young tree that is freshly planted a thorough weekly soaking is essential until the roots have been established. After the first season, no supplemental watering should be needed.

Temperature and Humidity

Though it thrives in the higher temperatures of the southern USDA Zones, the silk tree is tolerant of low temperatures. Young plants, however, are frost tender and will not survive hard winters. There are cultivars available, however, like A. julibrissin’ Ernest Wilson’., that are more winter-hardy options for the northern zones. 'Ernest Wilson' also boasts pretty pink and white flowers.

Fertilizer

The silk tree’s profuse growth shows that supplemental feeding is not needed. Compost added at the tree base should be sufficient to replenish nutrients. 

Is Albizia Julibrissin Toxic?

There are conflicting reports on the plant’s toxicity from numerous sources. The pods of the Silk Tree may contain a neurotoxin. For your safety, always check with a physician before using any botanical products.