A cultivar of the European beech tree, the copper beech tree (Fagus sylvatica Purpurea) produces stunning deep purple or copper coloured foliage. Available in a regular variety and a weeping form, the copper beech tree makes an attractive landscape specimen. It normally attains a height of only 50 feet; the weeping varieties rarely top 10 feet. The silver bark of the tree provides winter interest and the nuts provide a wildlife food source.
The copper beech tree is cold tolerant to U.S. Department of Agriculture zone 4. Choose a planting location that offers well-draining soil. The tree prefers slightly acidic soil -- it does not grow well in clay soil and will often perish.
Locate the tree in full sunlight for the best colouration. The tree can grow in partial shade but to maintain its deep purple or copper colouration it requires full sunlight or the leaves will begin turn marginally green.
Avoid planting beech trees in areas that sustain salt spray. The copper beech tree is intolerant of any form of salt. Even de-icing salts can easily kill the tree, according to Floridata.
The copper beech tree requires moist soil to thrive until fully established. Once established, it can tolerate limited times of drought. A heavy drinker, the tree consumes large amounts of water when the temperature is hot. The tree must have well-draining soil because it does not tolerate wet roots at all, according to the University of Connecticut.
In areas with exceptionally hot summers, such as in USDA zones 7 plus, the tree will not thrive and will often die. The copper beech is far more heat sensitive than other beech tree cultivars, according to Floridata.
Pests and Disease
Only a few pests bother the copper beech tree. The tree may exhibit powdery mildew. Its new growth often suffers invasion by aphid colonies. Hosing the tree off with a heavy spray of water or using a pesticide will normally take care of the aphids.
Maintaining the tree with regular water and fertiliser will help prevent cankers. Because the copper beech tree is a cultivar of the European beech tree, it does not suffer from beech bark disease like American beech trees often do.
As the copper beech tree ages it often develops large surface roots which make cultivation around the tree's base difficult. The branches of the copper beech often extend to the ground or they weep downward to sweep the ground in the weeping varieties. Grass rarely grows beneath the trees.
The tree sends out sucker growth around its base which must be promptly removed to maintain the tree's overall appearance.