Handkerchief Tree Growing Conditions

September 22, 2016 in Trees and Shrubs by Christine

Handkerchief Tree Care – Propagation Of Davidia Involucrata

Davidia Involucrata Dove Tree, Handkerchief Tree, Pocket Handkerchief Tree, Ghost Tree Davidia Involucrate or handkerchief tree is a deciduous tree belonging to the family Cornaceae. This tree is also known as the dove tree or the ghost tree. This tree is native to China, but is also cultivated in other parts of the world. It has become a popular ornamental tree in gardens and parks in Australia. This is a moderately fast-growing variety which grows to a height of 15-20 meters. It has heart shaped leaves and small but not easily seen flowers. The flower has two large and showy white bracts which hang from the stems like handkerchiefs giving the plant the name Handkerchief plant. One of the bract will be 3” to 4” long and the other one will be longer coming about 6-7 cm. The flower is located between these bracts.

Handkerchief Tree Care

The tree needs temperate and cold climate and well drained and rich soil. Though they grow well in full sun or semi shade, they need protection from strong winds. It is necessary to avoid standing water around the tree. The tree is not drought tolerant, so there is a need for regular irrigation. Moist soil is ideal for proper growth. The tree requires no special maintenance like pruning. However, removing the dead and diseased and damaged branches will give a neat appearance. This tree is usually free from pest attacks and diseases. You need to be patient with the tree as it will start producing flowers only after growing for 10 years. You can expect years of flowering once the tree starts flowering. The flower buds are prone to damage by the frost. The tree can withstand moderate pruning. They cannot be maintained successfully at reduced size.

Davidia Involucrata Fruit

The fruits develop after the pollination of the flowers. The fruits are green at first and turns to purple when they mature. The fruit is a hard nut which is about 3cm in length and is surrounded by green outer cover. The fruits hang from 10cm stalk and usually contain 3-6 seeds in them. The fruit ripens during autumn and the nutlets are ridged. Only one of the nutlet will germinate and the best results are obtained when the entire fruit is planted for germination.

How to Propagate by Cuttings?

The germination of handkerchief tree seeds will take about 18 months, but the saplings can grow rapidly. It can be grown from softwood cuttings during autumn and using hardwood cuttings during winter. Layering is the method used to propagate the plant through cuttings. Plants produced by layering of the stem will flower before the trees grown from seedlings as the plants have already crossed the juvenile stage. The ideal time to make the cuttings is after the leaf fall and just before the buds appears in spring. Select the healthy shoot grown in that year and remove the soft tip. Cut pieces of 15-30 cm with at least one bud. Dip the lower cut end in rooting hormone and plant them in sheltered areas with well drained soil in the ground or in pots. At least 2/3rds of the cutting should be below the soil. Leave the cuttings in place till the next autumn and once the cuttings develop, transplant to the location of your choice.

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