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Honeylocust Tree

Plant Love
June 21, 2018

Anyone tried a honeylocust? There are lots being planted now in Edmonton on boulevards and many are doing well. Those are Shademaster variety. I just bought a northern acclaim.

Comments (41)

  • Bill_minn_3b {West Central MN}

    They're all over town where I live and look good. The guy at the local nursery said they need a little TLC until they get established. What type of soil do you have?

  • maackia

    Hardy, fast growing, and appealing habit has led to overuse in these parts. Sunburst Honeylocust is a nice tree, but so ubiquitous it has lost its luster. The Gleditsia I see used in boulevard plantings around here, which are approximately twenty years old, look a bit ratty.

  • Bill_minn_3b {West Central MN}

    I have seen one or two with a few dead branches but considering the awful winter, I'm not surprised.

  • mntreegrower

    In my experience, honeylocust is a very good tree as long as it’s planted on sites that are not too dry. They develop a large root system fairly quickly so they don’t always
    transplant well and can be quite slow to recover. I recommend always buying and planting them at a smaller size. They also don’t tolerate shade at all. Lower branches die out if trees are too close together or partially shaded by larger neighboring trees. During rapid top growth, young trees can sometimes get rubbery and require staking to keep the lower trunk straight. But beyond that honeylocust is a tough wood.

    Northern Acclaim has a nice, darker green leaf than the other cultivars I have grown. It doesn’t grow as straight as other varieties like Skyline or Imperial, but it’ll develop a
    nice crown of scaffolding branches nonetheless.

  • Plant Love

    Thanks for all the messages. I am in a zone colder than my home town which is 4a which is why I decided to go for northern acclaim instead of shademaster but they sure grow amazingly fast even in boulevards in Edmonton on certain sites. I have seen them do a good 2ft per year at least. Those shademaster trees have seen zone 3b winters in the city. Northern Acclaim has been touted as even hardier but we shall see.

    I already have a few zone 4/5 trees in my yard that have taken zone 3 winters so I feel pretty good about it.

    I am digging out a huge area with good top soil but the surrounding soil past that is a mix of top soil and clay which can be pretty hard in areas. I can also drill holes in the ground to give it more air for the roots to move and fill it in with compost.

  • Plant Love

    Has anyone in this forum tried out the following trees:

    Katsura, Siebold Maple, or Autumn Blaze Pear?

  • maackia

    I’ve tried katsura twice, and they were dismal failures. They died differently, but both were planted in what I thought were optimal condition — at least the best “optimal” condition I could provide. There’s always the possibility I was overthinking it.

    If you’re a true 3a (or even 3b), I would guess Katsura will be a challenge. However, I recommend you get Katsura out of your system by planting one. I’ve got a Stewartia that is becoming a nice specimen. One never knows until you try; just don’t get too attached to it.

    I don’t have Siebold Maple, but I do have a few Asian maples that are doing well. Have you considered Korean Maple?

    Autumn Blaze Pear is one that will draw hisses and boos, but if you can get it through winter I doubt it will be reproducing like it does in more southerly climes. They’re marginally hardy here and in my opinion there are better trees.

    What kind of low temperatures do you experience?

  • Plant Love

    Interestingly enough, I planted a 3ft katsura seedling last spring and lo and behold it survived -39c without tip dieback and no snow cover on the top half. It was the worst winter I have ever seen and we set a 100 year record for longest stretch without a full 24hrs staying above freezing. We had almost no snow at end of December and the last week of it was our coldest of the year. I have 65 techny cedars in my yard and about 10 of the ones that had no snow cover on their roots at that time ended up with some bad burn on the south side and they are supposed to be zone 2 hardy. Thank god most of them survived except one that looks too burnt but I'm leaving it anyway to see if it recovers. I also lost a Ponderosa Pine which are typically fine in my area. Even 50ft Scots Pine which are farmer shelterbelt trees took burn. My pom pom scots pine got south burn too.

    November hit like a nightmare with temps about 5 degrees celcius below normal and in april we managed to hit the coldest temperature I have ever seen in that month by a mile. Typical coldest morning in April is -10c or 12f. Average low is 0c or 32f and high is 11c or about 52f for the month and we hit -26c or -16f. My hometown only got -17 or about 2f and I was jealous considering I only live a 2 hour drive away.

    And yet still the katsura came through, as did my siebold maple. The siebold looks identical to a japanese maple and has claimed to be even hardier than korean maple on literature. I planted a redbud which died back to about 4 inches. My sycamore died back to about a foot.

    My red oak seedling survived. I have a crimson sunset maple on its 4th year which is rated a zone 4 tree. Weeping willow was fine. I have 3 miscanthus giganteus which all came through fine. 3 limelight hydrangea and 3 quick fire hydrangea. Tulip poplar lost its top but is still alive. And my red rocket maple had no problems and is on its 3rd year. Those are the hardiest red maple's by a mile. Northwood gives it a run for its money but the fall color is nowhere near as good.

    I hope thats enough info for you to see what I got going on. Our average coldest day since I've moved out here for the last four years was -34 which we would hit one day of the year until we hit -39 this year.

  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH

    The worst issue with ornamental pears in the north is spring and fall snow or freezing rain which tends to make the tree lose limbs to such a degree that they aren’t salvageable. Here they aren’t able to ripen seed, so invasive spreading isn’t an issue this far north. A smaller issue is the stench when they bloom, so you also want to avoid planting them anywhere near walks, seating areas, etc.

  • Smivies (Ontario - 5b)

    Don't bother with Callery Pear varieties (eg. Autumn Blaze Pear), Manchurian Pear (eg. Prairie Gem Flowering Pear) is going to do much better for you. I doubt Callery Pear would even make it through a winter...

    Same with Siebold Maple...look for Korean Maple instead.

  • maackia

    Korean Maple: The wannabe Siebold

  • Plant Love

    Well I can't look for a korean maple because I own a siebold maple now lol. I like it. What's wrong with it? I also got an autumn blaze pear because I love the flowers and I don't feel like I will have weak branching problem. Trees don't grow nearly as fast here. Silver maples don't break like they do in warmer climates either.

    It seems my katsura picture didn't show up last post so I'm trying again here. I can't believe how hardy it ended up being.

  • bengz6westmd

    Here's my honeylocust after 14 yrs. It is FAST, so needs room:

  • Lane Clark (zone 4 WY)

    These things grow fast here too, aka worst climate in America. They really didn't start planting them here until about 20 years ago, but there is one big, beautiful one in town with thorns. Really cool form in their old age with big winding branches.

    My only qualm with them is they take forever to leaf out and are among the first to two lose their leaves. Sometimes they literally only have leaves for 3 - 3.5 months here some years.

    Sorry poor quality pic from Google maps

  • Plant Love

    Weird that they only last 3-3.5 months. In Edmonton it’s from mid to late May to mid October which is 4 and a half to five months. It’s typically one of the later ones to change color and drop.

  • Plant Love

    Heres my new little guy in a pot. Need to plant tomorrow. It’s a holiday. Tonight is day.

  • Plant Love

    Canada day.

  • Bill_minn_3b {West Central MN}

    I saw a nice 12" dbh by a house in town where we bicycled today. Looked very healthy and the branches stretched out over the house and yard. Simply beautiful.

    Here's a helpful link: https://sites.google.com/site/tnarboretum/Home/planting-a-tree-or-shrub

  • Lane Clark (zone 4 WY)

    I may have exaggerated a bit. 3.5-4 months they'll have leaves. KCT is the worst, though. They are the absolute last tree to leaf out and don't hang on to them particularly long either.

  • Plant Love

    What's kct? My worst is green ash I have in my front yard. Only trees that I have that are done with their leaves in early september and last ones to leaf out in spring. It varies greatly from one variety to another as I have seen others last well into October but not mine!

  • Plant Love

    And whats a dbh?

  • Bill_minn_3b {West Central MN}

    Diameter @ breast height.

    I think that's been changed now to @ 4 ft. Someone correct me if I'm wrong...

  • whaas_5a

    Katsura is a stretch in zone 4. You seriously got lucky if you have that little one making it thorough -38 degrees. They get major dieback in the low -20s. Thats how I lost a 10 year old Katsura.

    the 15 year old minor dieback but guarded from winter sun and wind.


    KCT = Kentucky Coffee Tree. It's the classy version of a Honeylocust.

  • Plant Love

    Ohh ok. I am seriously lucky and not complaining. I have lots of trees in my yard that should be dead from last year but aren't. I can't explain it. I just love my trees and they live!

  • Plant Love

    Ironically enough, there is another fellow from Edmonton who said he saw a large mature katsura and that probably saw similar temperatures so seed source has to play a huge role. Its like how redbud is rated 5a but there are people growing it in zone 4a and ndsu has a zone 3b rated one.

  • Lane Clark (zone 4 WY)

    You should try Kentucky coffee tree, plant love. I bet it would do well for you. They seem very tough

  • davidpeaceriver__2b

    Agreed; long dormancy suggests that Kentucky Coffee Tree may harden off early enough to survive frigid winter temperatures. I'd need seeds from s. Ontario for the best chance of survival in 2b -- none of my eBay-purchased seeds (US source) sprouted this year.

    Show some love for that Green Ash! I've seen them growing (albeit poorly) as far north as Yellowknife, and with the ash borer making its rounds around north America, Alberta is likely to be the last refuge for the trees. Like, of course, American Elms and Butternuts (I had a lovely butternut tree in my backyard in Calgary).

    Back on topic: is anyone not growing g. tricanthos 'inermis'? I've only seen the thorny variety growing in the wild a couple of times, and it's a spectacularly weird tree -- looks like something out of the African savanna. It's much more interesting than the thornless variety, in my opinion.

  • stir_fryi SE Mich

    We have a honey locust that hangs over our deck. It makes a terrible mess for 2-3 weeks in June -- the deck is unusable during that time unless you like tree crap falling in your hair. Also, gets those little aphids all over them in June and has to be sprayed.

  • Plant Love

    Ive always been interested in a KCT. They seem tropical looking. I need a good seed source though....unfortunately the trials that were done at the nurseries on the prairies all failed but I will take that with a huge grain of salt because almost everything in my yard should be dead if it mimicked the trials and I have seen lots of trees do well in the city that failed in trials.... I don't know why they were so different.

  • Lane Clark (zone 4 WY)

    Aren't the prairies a lot colder than the cities? I forgot, are you in Calgary? There's a big time heat island effect in Calgary and Edmonton, correct? Like 1 full zone from outside of town?

  • davidpeaceriver__2b

    Sure there is,, but there's more to hardiness in Alberta than temperature. Calgary's climate is terrible on many plants because of (extremely) erratic freeze-thaw cycles, minimal snow-cover, high evaporation rate, and the high elevation...which can result in snow in any month of the year. Some exotics (like butternuts and buckeyes) which don't do well in the rest of the province do just fine in Calgary, but you can put a question mark next to most other non-native species. A lot of trees are really more tolerant of cold than they are of extended mid-winter thaws in Chinook conditions (followed by a return to winter conditions).

  • Lane Clark (zone 4 WY)

    David - That sounds like my climate to a T.

    Butternut, huh? I should try that

  • davidpeaceriver__2b

    They're excellent trees, and especially for the prairie, but are critically endangered throughout their native range because of butternut canker. If you're going to get one, you have to make sure it's certified disease-free or grow a couple from seed/nut. Just a thought...

  • Lane Clark (zone 4 WY)

    Do butternut/walnut leaf out early or late? I never had the chance to observe one

  • Smivies (Ontario - 5b)

    Definitely not early (but not too late either)...probably most similar to Bur Oak in your zone 4 WY.

  • Plant Love

    i always found it odd that Edmonton had such an incredible variety of trees considering how far north. The more I drove through the city, the more surprised I became. It benefits a lot from not typically breaking above 10c in winter. Biggest issue is freezes too early in autumn that kill late growth.

  • maackia

    Butternut used to be a common tree in northern Wisconsin until the mid 1960’s when BC found its way here. There’s even a small community in north central WI named Butternut. I never see this tree offered in retail nursery trade. Sad.

  • davidpeaceriver__2b

    You can still find butternuts for sale...sporadically...here in Alberta. I bought one in Calgary ten years ago from a local nursery, and I did see a lone tree for sale at Canadian Tire about three years ago. In a pinch, you could order one from Gimo Nut Nursery in Ontario, but I’d think all of their stock would just be infected, as canker’s airborne. I’d just plant nuts if I wanted a tree at this point.

  • davidpeaceriver__2b

    Okay, I forgot that canker can be seed-borne, too. Quarantine those nuts first! Cross-infection of black walnuts (which are popping up more and more in nurseries) is unlikely, but still...

  • Plant Love


    Heres a couple from edmonton.

    And a walnut for fun..



  • davidpeaceriver__2b

    Beautiful. Wow, that walnut has excellent form!

    Plant Love thanked davidpeaceriver__2b

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