Catalpa lovers...

cluelessgardener(z5 UT)June 8, 2005

I am considering a Catalpa for my Salt Lake City yard. Please talk me into the Catalpa - it's so darn pretty! Do the long, cigar shaped fruits drive you crazy? Have you ever had one snap in a microburst? Feel free to talk me out of the Catalpa if you hate yours...but please suggest a different tree if you don't like the Catalpa. :) Thanks.

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delray(z5 UT)

The huge bean/seedpods are interesting to me. Don't have any reason to drive me crazy. As far as litter, both my Catalpas are located in large berm area with wood chips not grass so the pods blend right in.

I had a large branch snap off in a microburst, but I don't find them especially brittle/break-prone compared to other fast growing trees. We lost the top and large section of a Locust tree, Ash, and Chitalpa in that same microburst.

They look pretty bad in the fall as the leaves get the first frost and look like wilted lettuce. I understand they are prone to a certain gigantic catalpa caterpillar infestation (a giant Sphinx moth). Fisherman prize these worms for bate. The trees recover quickly from what have heard and I think they would be kind of cool to show the kids, but I have not been so fortunate as to have had them.

As far as talking you into the tree, I just think they are very beautiful form if you have the room. They are usually non-symetrical but very balanced and graceful even when gigantic! They send a wonderful smell through the yard when in bloom. Just like a huge lovely lady. I don't know of anything that looks so tropical in our climate except maybe the Empress tree.

I have associated them with Pioneer buildings in the area. Seems they planted quite a few of these that are going on 100 years or older and just look more magnificent with age. Unlike Cottonwood where you get large sections dying off or growing out of control, this (relatively) shortlived tree seems dignified right up till the end.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 8:03PM
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dirtboy58(Zone 7 MD)

I second delray's comments! I purchased two bareroot Catalpa's 8 years ago. They're at about 10" across the trunk growing. Drought tolerant. Seed pods end up in mulched areas. When they explode in the fall...that's cool. Almost like a cattail.

Love the tropical looking large leaves (may get hail damage) and fragrant large blooms at the end of June.

Wish I could get those cool caterpillars!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 1:33PM
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cluelessgardener(z5 UT)

Where did you purchase your Catalpas? A local nursery? A catalog? Thanks.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 1:46PM
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delray(z5 UT)

I got one of mine at Linden nursery (10 ft tall 2" caliper) for about $70 and the other "Purple Catalpa" ( 8' tall 1" caliper) $20 at Vineyard Nursery in Provo

Cooks (Linden) Wasatch Shadows (Sandy) and Glover nursery (West Jordan) had them as probably most larger nurseries do.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 6:55PM
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dirtboy58(Zone 7 MD)

I got mine in bare root form from the City of Denver during their annual "Denver Digs Trees" program every spring. You may also try the arbor foundation.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 8:06PM
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I love my catalpa but have looked all over to find out how to proagate another from the seeds of my tree
anyone know how? or where I might get that info?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 4:29PM
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dirtboy58(Zone 7 MD)

Hi Suze,

Perhaps in the fall when seeds explode from the pods. I've had a few new tree sprouts in my mulched bed beneath my tree.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 10:26AM
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galynn(z9 Mojave Deser)

Hi all, it has been a long time since I have been able to check out the list. I wanted to chime in on the Catalpa. It is a beautiful tree and I can even grow it in the hot So Ca. desert, I am excited to see that I will be able to grow it in my new location in zone 4-5 of Wy.
You can grow these trees very easily from seed, I had 5 in gal pots and sent 2 off to my daughter for her home in zone 8-9, they took off like crazy, the other 3 are waiting to be transplanted in there new home. So save some of those beans, open them up and you will have tones of seeds.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2005 at 1:10PM
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cuttingedgegarden(z6 CO)

There another option: Coppice, or stool, the young tree and it will grow to a large shrub size, and will not bloom. It is very attractive done this way, the leaves are much larger than usual, and the efect is rather tropical. mkp

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 7:58PM
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My uncle has two of these trees on his farm in a valley in Middle TN. I don't know if they grew there naturally or were planted. They get swarmed with worms every year since I was a kid. You can shake a limb and they will fall out of the tree or you can pick them off leaves by hand. There isn't a leaf on the tree that doesn't have two or three of these. They're harmless. By the time the worms or caterpillars are done the trees are bare. But they live every year and do well like a cycle and have done so for twenty or so years. Anyway we loved to fish with them. The catfish and other smaller panfish really like them. My uncle has even frozen them in containers to use throughtout the season. yuck.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2006 at 3:05AM
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My grandpa and Aunt bot have Catalpa trees in their yards. They are beautiful trees and hold great sentemental value for me. However...they drop ALOT! I would advise anyone who is considering to plant this tree to not plant it near a sidewalk, driveway or patio. When the flowers and leaves drop they are messy and slippery.
Kids love to play with the long pods like swords. The flowers smell wonderful!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 4:34PM
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There was a large Catalpa already growing in the yard of the house I bought about 15 years ago. I have a feeling it was a volunteer, but who knows? It is growing right next to the house in the backyared - I mean like inches away from the rear wall - definitely not an ideal location, so I can't imagine that anyone planted it there deliberately. Someday I may have to have it removed, before it damages the foundation.

It is a very pretty tree, the leaves give wonderful shade for the patio area I put in. It has never had the catapillar infestation mentioned in several posts; the adult moth must not live in this area. I must say I have a love-hate relationship with this tree. It is very messy with the dropping of the flowers and pods all over and I grumble every year about the clean up - again, this is due to the less than ideal area where it was allowed to grow - but it also has lovely leaves, the flowers are pretty, and the resultant pods hanging from the tree are very interesting looking. And when the weather gets cold enough, the leaves drop all at once so you only have to rake them up once, which is a plus! The pods stay on for most of the winter and because of them and the nice contorted branches of the tree, the Catalpa has good winter interest, too.
Anyway, given a choice of planting it where it should be, which you have, Cluelessgardener, so that the pods and flowers will drop where clean up is easy and/or unnecessary, I would have to recommend the tree.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2006 at 8:53AM
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The catalpas are blooming everywhere (but my backyard!) right now, and I'm starting to fall in love with this native tree. The folks around here seem to think of it as a "trash tree", but I was wondering about digging up a smaller one and moving it into my large, sun-drenched yard so the dogs can have some shade.
I live in east Tennessee (Greeneville).
Any thoughts about how to make this operation more likely to be a success? I figure if I can get a 3-6 year old tree, I'm that much further ahead than planting a seed or getting some bare-root tree that's not really from around here.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 1:49AM
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We planted 4 of these in our front yard as our street trees (spaced every 20 feet between the sidewalk and street). I think they were about 3-4 in diameter when we planted them 3 years ago, and they're growing nicely.

I don't mind the seed pods, and kids love them. I'm not sure if they'll bother me more when the trees get bigger and there are more. My MIL said they had one at one of their houses and she thought it was ugly, but DH has fond memories of "sword fighting" with his brother with the seed pods. The only drawback IMO is that they leaf out relatively late and their leaves are the first to turn yellow, then quickly brown and dead in the fall. But they do have some winter interest with the seed pods.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 12:22AM
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I have a request by a customer of mine to make an all natural soap that smells like Catalpa Blossoms. To my knowledge I have never smelled them. Would someone kindly describe the scent to me or tell me what they smell similar to (for example: a lemony sweet floral or a peppery warm rose)? Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 4:24PM
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