Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) is a low-maintenance deciduous tree that remains attractive in all seasons. It is often used for screening and as specimens and has good fall color.
Katsura Tree Facts and Info
Katsura trees grow in Zones 5-8 and will grow 40-60’ high and 20-50’ wide. The emerging reddish spring foliage changes to soft, heart-shaped blue-green leaves in summer, then to yellow in early fall. Young trees are pyramidal; older trees develop a graceful, stately, spreading growth habit. Single-trunk specimens are more columnar. Multiple trunks will result in a wide spreading tree.
They are full and dense even when young making it a great tree for providing dappled shade. Its large mature size limits its use to only large yards and parks. Katsuras have a shallow root system, with some roots growing to 6” in diameter or more above the soil.
Planting and Caring for Katsura Trees
Plant container-grown or balled-and-burlapped plants in early spring in full sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil. Water well after planting. Try to provide additional moisture during periods of drought. Apply 2-4” of shredded bark or wood-chip mulch around plants and replenish it as necessary throughout the growing season to help maintain soil moisture. Fertilize young plants in spring to encourage growth, sprinkle plant food around the base of the tree and water it in well. Pruning is needed only to shape the tree when it is young.
Propagation: The seeds do not require any pretreatment for germination. Take softwood cuttings from young trees.
Diseases: No serious diseases are prevalent, but sunscald and bark splitting may occur. Leaf scorch can be a problem during times of drought or with trees planted on dry sites so be sure to water them well.
Species Related to Katsura Trees
‘Aureum’ leaves mature to yellow after emerging purplish green.
‘Pendula’ is an eye-catching weeping form with blue-green leaves.
‘Ruby’ is a more dwarf form, reaching perhaps 30’ tall, with leaves of a purplish-blue hue.