How to Grow Weeping Katsura

How to plant and care for weeping katsura

Weeping katsura

 

Mark Turner / Getty Images

The weeping katsura tree (otherwise known as Cercidiphyllum japonicum, or 'Pendula') has graceful branches that appear to "weep," and heart-shaped, blue-green leaves that transform into a vibrant yellow color in the fall.

Native to China and Japan, this attractive and flowing deciduous tree has a large spread and can grow to heights of up to 15 to 25 feet, making it a great choice for parks and golf courses--or anyone with a large, sprawling property to landscape.

The weeping katsura has long been cherished for its incomparable beauty--in fact, it's become woven into many Chinese and Japanese legends that have been passed down for ages. The American version was discovered on US soil by a Kentucky plantsman at an Indiana nursery around 1960 and it became known as the ‘Amazing Grace’ Weeping Katsura Tree.

The tree will initially take on a pyramidal form before rounding out. It's pendulous branches fan out before sweeping the ground. Weeping Katsura's gorgeous foliage will emerge as bronze or purple-red before turning blue-green and fading to gold or apricot in the fall. In March or April, tiny red flowers will emerge, although they are not particularly ornamentally interesting.

The weeping katsura will bring character to your landscape all year long. It's a great choice for gardens due to its compact shape and ability to provide light shade. It can be planted as a specimen or in a group. Best of all, its leaves will emit a subtle sweet smell as they fall--almost like cotton candy or caramel.

Botanical Name Cercidiphyllum japonicum
Common Name Weeping Katsura
Plant Type Deciduous tree
Mature Size 15-30 feet
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Rich, well-drained, acidic soil
Soil pH 5.5-7.5
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color Red
Hardiness Zones 4-8
Native Area Japan and China

Weeping Katsura Care

A fast-growing tree, the weeping katsura is sure to become an eye-catching addition to your landscape. It requires full sun and plenty of water, but fortunately isn't a particularly high-maintenance tree once it's established.

These are great trees to plant for the enjoyment of your family, as children love hiding and playing inside its canopy. It will also add beauty and visual interest to your property all year long.

This tree is not associated with any serious pests or diseases. However, gardeners should be aware that the weeping katsura is intolerant of drought, and that the tree must also be protected from the direct exposure to wind. Its wood is considered to be weak and is subject to breakage. When planting, try not to locate your tree too close to a sidewalk because its shallow root system can lift the pavers.

Light

You should plant weeping katsura in the early spring in a spot with full sun access.

Soil

The weeping katsura will grow best in a rich, well-drained soil that's slightly acidic.

Water

You'll want to water the weeping katsura at least once per week, especially during its first year, to help establish a strong root system. You should water even more frequently in extreme heat, as these trees are not tolerant of drought-like conditions. You should then continue to water the tree regularly throughout its lifetime (ideally when the top three inches of soil become dry).

Temperature and Humidity

The weeping katsura will truly come to life in the spring in temperate climates.

Fertilizer

You can fertilize your weeping katsura with a general-purpose fertilizer. Just be sure to feed your tree before its new growth starts in the spring.

Propagating Weeping Katsura

The weeping katsura tree can be propagated from basal cuttings in late spring and semi-ripe cuttings in mid-summer.

Similar Varieties of Weeping Trees

  • Walker Siberian Peabush (Caragana arborescens “Walker")
  • Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)
  • Camperdown Elm (Ulmus glabra "Camperdownii")

Growing in Containers

The weeping katsura typically doesn't transplant well, so it's a good idea to plant it as a seedling from a container when it's young.

Pruning

This tree is not only free of disease and insects, but it also rarely needs pruning. This tree will naturally form a broad umbrella shape that will sweep the ground if left unpruned.