Trees: Public Enemies #1-AND-Guardian Angels #1

hostaLes(5)June 5, 2012

If one were landscaping a new house to provide shade for future hosta gardens, which tree is Public Enemy #1 and which Guardian Angel #1?

Regarding Public Enemy #1 I think most of you will say maples and ken will yell MAPLES. But I could be wrong. I wouldn't want to put words into your mouths.


A) Public Enemy #1:

B) Guardian Angel #1:


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A: Silver Maples
B: Pagoda Dogwood... but not from personal experience. I just like the horizontal branching. Very Asian, to pay homage to hosta heritage.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 9:00AM
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A Norway maples and callery pears (Bradfords and their kin)
B Oak trees--white or red

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 9:11AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

maples .. willow.. mulberry ... poplar ... mountain ash ... anything that suckers.. etc

oaks.. but i was told most nuts trees are deep rooted ..

if i were building new.. incorporate a shade structure in the design and skip gardening under tree in toto ..


    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 9:34AM
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A: Anything in the willow or maple family...
Crab trees

B: Am with a shade structure, this way hostas will not be competing with an kinds of roots.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 9:40AM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

#1 I have no trees that interfere with gardening hosta under,including a red maple.
#2 My garden grows under Oaks ,Poplars,native Dogwoods,and a type of Holly tree that is native to the area.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 9:56AM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

Norway Maples are the worst. Lots of surface roots, black-out shade, extremely invasive, thousands of seedlings every year, leaves that are flat and wide which form an imperious mat when they fall.

I have had no trouble gardening beneath a Japanese Red Maple, Dogwood or Red Bud. My main hosta bed grows happily beneath a Kwanzan Cherry.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 10:50AM
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#1 Cedars, Cedars, Cedars
#2 Walnut (this is suppose to be the 'good' tree right?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 11:46AM
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In my garden I guess #1 would be pine, because it is constantly dropping needles and sap all over the hosta. I don't really appreciate acorns from the oaks, either.

But I'll say #2 would be oak, since the leaves make great mulch- or would, if I coud get my act together to shred them in the fall

All my hosta grow under trees and I prefer it since I like a natural look in th garden.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 1:13PM
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#2 You might want to plant a Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica). Some selections are out there for awesome red fall color. They are deep rooted and the shade they produce is not a dense shade.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 1:41PM
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From my own personal experience:
1) Mulberry
Silver or Norway Maples

2) Black Walnut(does half of the weeding for me)


    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 3:26PM
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Silver/Water maples are the worst... just finished digging out roots from a bed thats nearly 20 feet away from 40 foot tall water maple..but really anything with a feathering, surface dwelling root system sucks...

no experience with fruit or nut trees... but I don't like the idea of something else to clean up off the ground and the fruit or whatever falling and beating the crap out of my plants.... plus the birds... oh bird eats cherry... bird poops cherry on my hosta... great

I'm planting eastern white pines here in Kentucky now to shade an acre of our property that used to be pasture.... I like the idea of pine needles as mulch and since all of our current trees are deciduous... I wanted some evergreen action. Pines tend to keep the ground dry though... so irrigation is necessary...Some populations of slugs hate pine as well..

Lots of people like oak... acorns attract squirrels too, which are fun. The oak tree is epic as well...

Black Walnut hulls and some other varieties of walnuts contain juglone which is a natural selective herbicide... note that les says it does lots of the weeding for him... though other ornamental/flowering plants you have and want to plant may not like it lol....

Just some thoughts..

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 11:47PM
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A. Chinese tallow tree, camphor tree, sweet gum tree, and magnolia grandiflora. Also water oaks with roots on the surface.

B. I'd have to say the best would be ginkgo biloba, which has no surface roots to deal with. I'm not sure about the birches, I have a betula negra or river birch, and no problems so far, but then I won't be putting hosta in the area where this tree is located. I have three pecan trees, in the hickory nut family, and they seem okay with roots.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 12:27AM
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Mocassin: I'd never had a Ginko but am familiar with them in Arkansas. If your species G. biloba is the one, though I wasn't aware of the root system I certainly like the tree. The triangular quake in the breeze like aspen, turn very nice color in the fall, and the tree HAS NO TWIGS, a leaf habit that makes for VERY NICE DAPPLED SHADE.

I have never seen it growing in northern Illinois,though I have just found on-line catalogs that state it is hardy to zone 3. Since all of our hostas derived from species native to the same relative natural home of Ginko in Asia: what a nice tree as a "Guardian Angel" for hostas. I found a quick reference at fast Growing They grow 1-3 feet per year up to 40-70 ft., and are drought and pest reisitant.

It makes me wonder if there are any other trees native to Japan, China or Korea that would be great "Guardian Angels" to hostas. Thanks Moccasin!


    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 7:40AM
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My hosta are mostly under a canopy of mature pine & oak trees and do nicely there. So, I would consider those to be guardian angel tree.

OTOH, I have a white birch with only a few hosta underneath and those struggle because the birch has a lot of shallow fibrous roots. The rhizomatous hosta like Feather Boa, Lemon Lime and Twist of Lime seem to do much better than Halcyon is faring. Halcyon manages but the growth rate is extremely slow. Don't expect explosive growth from the rhizomatous hosta either...just, if you have to have hosta under a birch, I would start w/ the small hosta that spread by rhizomes. And plan to grub around and clear some birch roots every spring to make life a little easier for them.

IOW's avoid birch trees if you're planning to plant any new trees for hosta arbors.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 8:56AM
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HostaLes, there is another tree which grows in eastern Europe and Asia, called the plane tree or platanus. It is planted on city streets in London and Paris. It can grow 100 feet tall but not all that quickly. It is said to be the "perfect city tree." Probably has to do with the root system not disturbing paved streets etc, the neatness of the leaves or whatever. Look into it as well. It might look like the sycamore, and if it drops those balls, you will be most irritated when they tear your hosta leaves. Not as much a guardian angel, huh.

I have a ginkgo, and do not agree that it grows up to three feet a year. No way. And you should look for the largest one you can find, and get ONLY a male tree. The female tree has the fruits and it has an odor not totally pleasant, so they say. I personally have never seen one.

However, I fell in love with the ginkgo because it turns butter yellow in the fall, and then suddenly in one day it drops all of its leaves cleanly beneath its spreading branches. Reminds me of the tiger melting to butter in the childhood tale of Little Black Sambo. With the ginkgo, you rake once and you're done. It is a very civilized tree.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 10:38PM
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What a GREAT thread, although at first I didn't understand the second question's relevance, since it refered to a specific Hosta cultivar . . . ;-)

The responses clarified it.

Every one probably knows the infamous reputation of Maples. Here our problem is mostly Red Pine, almost as bad.

Of surprising interest, though, is that under our one odd-ball Jack Pine, NO shallow feeder Hosta choker roots!


    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 10:55PM
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#1-I am surprised no one has named this tree a "Public Enemy": the Catalpa Tree!

Although I don't have one in IL, technically I HAVE many of them. This trees seedlings makes maple whirlybirds look like Angels (not Guardian Angels). Sycamore seedlings can grow to 4 feet the first year with its large elephant ear leaves and 1 1/2" diameter stalk. If you allow one get this tall it cannot be pulled. A neighbor has a female and it seeds like crazy, when its many flowers die it is a mess, and its "cigar-shaped" pod shells are everywhere and almost impossible to rake. They get caught in plants and tangle up in leaf rakes. Cutting them down won't always kill them and I have had to revert to RoundUp. I am not much of a chemical reliant gardener, so using RoundUp is a message in itself.

Catalpa is one of the last trees I would consider planting or cultivating. IME it is a HUGE weed.

#2-How about some of the "understory" trees like Flowering and Pink Dogwoods (Cornus sp.), and Redbud for hosta beds for smalls, mediums and minis.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 10:06AM
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hh - I struggled with a good name and decided by not using the ' ' designation it would be OK. Sorry for the confusion it may create. But after all is said and done, when it comes to our beloved hostas, a GOOD tree is truly their "guardian angel".

I am anticipating increasing my capacity to grow hosta by planting a few of the smaller growing trees and they need to be fast growing (sic. "Green Banana Syndrome" LOL). I visualize a diorama of maybe 3 small trees in a shallow vee cluster, like 2 dogwoods and a redbud providing shade. White Birch look great in such a planting but I have seen many of the shallow rooted birch in the "noopiming" of WI, MN and ON Canada growing in 12" of lichen and dirt on boulders. I figured they would not be the best for hostas. But I can't discount them because I have never done it. I do know they are thirsty (need a good supply of water to grow). Often we can look at a trees native habitat for our answers.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 10:25AM
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HostaLes Are you sure you are speaking about Sycamore trees, I have approx 7 American Sycamores on my property and have never had anything remotely cigar shaped fall from them. I have however had problems with the Catalpa tree in the back dropping them. Not trying to question your experience ,just wondered why mine is so totally diferent. Thanks.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 11:10AM
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Regarding birch many in New England, my yard came with those, growing on a rocky, ledgey ground. My garden came later, and my first bed was built around some existing birches. I have many water lovers in there- ferns, astilbe, and hosta. All do very well, with no fertilization, no extra heavy water. I have Love Pat and Remember Me in the ground, which havent exactly grown like wildfire, but then I believe their reputations are slow growers in general. They do not languish, but get bigger and better every year. The astilbe in this bed is better and than in any other place in the garden. A few years ago I added El Nino to the corner of the bed, and I put it in an Agroliner bag because now that I read these forums, I have learned that hostas and trees are bad bad bad, never gonna work. Just don't tell the ferns, astilbe, Love Pat or Remember Me that. ;)

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 11:15AM
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