How to Grow and Care for Little Leaf Linden

Tilia cordata

little leaf linden tree

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Looking for a low-maintenance tree that attracts bees in spring and produces lasting golden foliage? Little leaf linden trees are charming additions to your garden. Learn how to care for little leaf linden. As the name suggests, the little leaf linden (Tilia cordata) has smaller leaves than others in its genus. Though purely ornamental, they are also known as "small leaved lime trees" in honor of their distinctly lime-yellow blooms, small nutlets upon which are attached three-inch leafy wings. Glossy dark green leaves, each three inches long, have tips, serrate margins, and cordate bases.

As autumn approaches, leaves remain green longer than many other trees, continuing to produce lush shade even in the cooler months. Petite round seeds are produced in autumn along with intense gold-green foliage atop this graceful, pyramidal shaped plant. Seeds last through much of winter. It is hardy in USDA Zones 4 to 7. When looking for a tree that will fill out a garden hedge and require absolutely no pruning throughout the seasons, look no further than little leaf linden.

Botanical Name Tilia cordata
Common Name  
Little leaf linden, small-leaved lime
Plant Type
Deciduous tree
Mature Size
50 to 80 feet tall and 20 to 50 feet wide
Sun Exposure
Full sun to part sun
Soil Type
Well-drained rich soil, adaptable to clay
Soil pH
Acidic, alkaline, neutral
Bloom Type
May through July
Flower Color
Lime-Yellow
Hardiness Zones
4, 5, 6, 7
Native Area
Western Asia and Europe
closeup of little leaf linden

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

little leaf linden tree

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

little leaf linden in the winter

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

How to Grow Little Leaf Linden

Little leaf linden grows 50 to 80 feet tall and 20 to 50 feet wide. Space accordingly. Plant this linden species for shade, for flowers, and along the street where it is highly tolerant of urban pollution.

Light

Little leaf linden thrives in full sun, but it will grow in part shade where it can receive direct sunlight for two to six hours of the day.

Soil

Little leaf linden thrives in well-draining, loamy soil with organic matter mixed in. A late winter/early spring feeding supports growth and keeps insects at bay.

Water

Water this drought-tolerant tree a medium amount.

Pruning

While this linden requires no pruning, it's easily shorn into a hedge.

Planting in Containers

This adaptable linden species is also easy to train for bonsai.

Pests and Diseases to Consider

Fortunately, this low-maintenance tree presents no serious insect or disease problems. Verticillium wilt is infrequent, though when this wilt does happen it can be fatal. Other diseases to keep an eye out for are powdery mildew, leaf spots and blight, canker, as well as Anthracnose (Gnomonia tilia) and Phytophthora spp.

In hot, dry periods spider mites (Tetranychidae family) may appear. Borers, scale, leaf miner, lace bugs, caterpillars, aphids (Aphididae family), gall mites, gyspy moth (Lymantria dispar), horse chestnut scale (Pulvinaria regalis), sawflies (suborder Symphyta), and Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica) are other possible pests that may feed on the Little Leaf Linden.