Mike Klahr, Ph.D., is the Boone County Extension Agent for Horticulture, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

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Japanese Stewartia
by Mike Klahr, Ph.D.       #Hot Plants   #Trees

Are you looking for a pest-free, small-  to medium-sized landscape tree with multi-season beauty? Would you like to have a variety that does not show up on every list of The 25 Most Common Trees? Does the idea of showy summer flowers on a tree appeal to you? If so, you may want to consider planting a Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia). This tree is a beauty in all seasons — it offers good spring foliage followed by large, white, camellia-like flowers in June and July, and outstanding red, purple or yellow fall foliage color and incredible mottled bark with puzzle-like patterns of tan, olive green, ivory, orange, beige and gray.

Japanese stewartia should be planted in a prominent place in the landscape where it can serve as a year-round specimen plant. Choose a location with full sun or part shade in the afternoon, and then modify the planting site to provide a moist, acid, organic soil for best performance. 

Common Name: Japanese Stewartia

Botanical Name: Stewartia pseudocamellia

Type: Deciduous

Zones: 4–8

Flowers: White with orange anthers in center; blooms in June/July.

Fall Foliage Color: Excellent — red, purple, yellow

Soil: Adaptable; prefers moist, acid, organic soil and 2 to 3 inches organic mulch.

Size: 20 to 40 feet tall by 15 to 20 feet wide

Exposure: Full sun or afternoon shade

Watering: 1 inch of water per week during the growing season

When To Fertilize: Fertilize in late fall or very early spring, based on soil test results.

Planting & Pruning: Plant in early spring; no pruning needed.

In Your Landscape: A great specimen plant; place it where you can always see the beautiful bark, flowers and fall color!

From Kentucky Gardener Volume X Issue VI. Photos courtesy of Mike Klahr, Ph.D.


Posted: 06/28/13   RSS | Print


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