Golden Rain Tree- Facts on Growing Golden Rain Trees


A Golden Rain tree is a beautiful tree to add to your landscape. The golden rain tree, Koelreuteria paniculata, is also known by such names as, panicled golden rain tree and varnish tree. It is well known and recognized by its showy yellow summer flowers. Golden rain trees grow in Zones 5-9 and will reach heights of up to 30-40 ft. The width is roughly the same dimensions. The tree is a deciduous tree that has a rounded form and a medium texture. You can also bonsai a Golden Rain tree.

"Golden Rain Tree"

Golden Rain Tree

Golden Rain Tree Description

Golden rain trees are grown for its midsummer flowers, urban tolerance, and attractive rounded growth habit. In early July, bright yellow flowers from foot-long showy clusters appear. They are set off nicely by their green foliage. The flowers are soon followed by clusters of three-sided lime-colored pods that turn brown and resemble Chinese lanterns.

They persist through the winter and into the following spring. Foliage is bright green in summer, changing to yellow or golden yellow in fall but not reliably every year. This small, single-trunked or multi-trunked tree quickly loses its central leaders to yield an asymmetrical or irregular growth habit in youth, becoming rounded with age.

Growing Requirements for a Golden Rain Tree

A Golden Rain tree can be used as a single specimen, as a small shade tree near a deck or patio, as a focal point, or as a street tree. It will perform best in full sun, with a rich, moist, deep, well-drained soil. It is adaptable to poor soils, compacted soils, various pH soils, pollution, heat, drought, and urban stress in general. Young trees, recently transplanted, may exhibit die-back, or be marginally hardy in harsh winters, especially in Zone 5, but established trees are much hardier. These trees look great next to a canopy gazebo, or over a outdoor bench, or picnic table.

"Golden Rain Tree Shape"

Shape of a Golden Rain Tree

Care of Golden Rain Tree

You should plant balled-and-burlapped, or container grown plants in spring. This tree is extremely sensitive to being transplanted in autumn. If transplanting cannot be delayed until late spring, amend the soil, then fertilize and water thoroughly. Follow this by mulching and try to avoid any type of winter salt spray. These steps will help ensure that the tree will make it through the first winter.

"Leaves of a Golden Rain Tree"

Leaves of a Golden Rain Tree

You should water newly planted trees well and then water them as needed for the first 2-3 years after planting. Young trees will grow faster with a spring application of plant food. Prune in the winter only to shape the tree. The wood in this tree is very weak and could drop branches after a storm.

"Golden Rain Tree Seed Pods"

Seed pods of a Golden Rain tree

Propagation is by taking root cuttings in early winter, or by planting seeds in the fall. The only problems with a rain tree may be an occasional problem with trunk canker.

Relates Species

‘Apiculata’ has finely divided leaves. ‘Fastigiata’ has a narrow columnar form. ‘Rose Lantern’ seedpods are flushed with pink. ‘September’ flowers about 5 weeks later than the species and has especially large flower clusters. Bougainvillea golden rain tree (K. bipinnata) is similar but later blooming. It is reliably hardy in Zones 7-10.

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