Problems with a laburnum tree

Written by mark pendergast
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Problems with a laburnum tree
The laburnum is only in flower for two weeks. (Bildvision_AB/iStock/Getty Images)

Laburnum trees can beautify any home gardener's property with their spectacular show of yellow flower clusters. The laburnum, also called the goldenchain tree because of its showy blooms, reaches a height of 5.4 to 7.5 m (18 to 25 feet) at maturity and spreads out about 3.9 to 5.4 m (13 to 18 feet) wide. Although a tree of great beauty, several problems confront gardeners wanting to make the laburnum a part of their landscape.

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Toxic

Gardeners should keep in mind that all parts of the laburnum tree have toxic properties. This does not mean that you have to dismiss any idea of putting a laburnum on your property, but caution is advised. In particular, you may want to avoid planting a laburnum if you expect young children to play near it. The seeds have an especially high toxicity. Avoid coming into contact with them, if possible. Touch the tree as little as necessary when pruning, fertilising or watering.

Conditions

A difficult tree to grow, the laburnum presents several challenges for home gardeners. The tree does not thrive in hot weather and is better suited to the cooler parts of the UK, such as in the Pennines and in central Scotland. Laburnum also needs a planting site protected from the full heat of sun. It prefers alkaline to acidic soils and needs a pH of 7.0 or higher. A well drained, nutrient-rich soil helps the tree flourish.

Pests and disease

Various pests and diseases might cause problems for the laburnum. Aphids and mealy bugs often attack this species. Treat with an appropriate pesticide and follow all label directions if a severe outbreak occurs. Laburnum also shows a vulnerability to certain diseases, such as leaf spot and twig blight. Leaf scald can show up on a laburnum, if the tree is exposed to full sun during the winter. Excessive moisture leaves the laburnum susceptible to root rot.

Miscellaneous

Although the laburnum presents a thrilling floral display during the spring, it typically lasts only two weeks. You might not want to put in the time and effort to grow the tree for such a short period of bloom. The foliage does not turn a different colour in the autumn and drops off the tree. The fruit has no ornamental value and, along with the foliage, often creates a large amount of litter.

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