Caring For Your Northern Catalpa Tree

Posted on: 9 January 2015

Northern catalpa trees are medium-sized, deciduous trees that are commonly found in urban areas, thanks to their tolerance of air pollution and compacted soil. While they will grow in a wide soil pH range (5.5-7.0) and can live through droughts, catalpa trees do require a bit of care in order to thrive. If you have one on your property, follow these tips to ensure it lives a long and healthy life.

Rake leaves up early in the fall.

Northern catalpa trees are one of the first trees to lose their leaves in the fall. When the leaves do start tumbling, make sure you rake them up promptly. Rake every couple of days to keep the buildup of leaves to a minimum. Fungi, such as those that cause powdery mildew disease and verticillium wilt, thrive in fallen leaves and may infect your tree if left on the ground.

Remember to clean up seed pods in the late winter or early spring.

In the late winter, your catalpa tree will drop its seed pods. These are about 10-24 inches long, and they look somewhat like green beans. A single tree can release thousands of seed pods, and they pile up quite quickly. If you're not careful to clean them up, you're likely to find little catalpa trees sprouting up in your yard the next spring. The seed pods can be raked up and burned or composed, but as you would clean up leaves.

Keep an eye out for signs of disease.

When your catalpa's leaves start falling, check them for brown spots. These are typically focused by a fungus called Macrosporium catalpae, which only infects catalpa trees. Powdery mildew disease, which causes the leaves to develop a powdery, white film, is also common. If you spot signs of these diseases, consider having a tree care company spray your tree with fungicides.

Have your tree pruned once per year.

Catalpa trees have long, heavy branches. Without proper pruning, the ends of these branches tend to get weighed down, causing the branches to snap. Have your catalpa pruned once per year by a responsible tree care service (such as McGinty Bros., Inc. Professional Lawn & Tree Care). Snapped branches are susceptible to disease, so you want to avoid them whenever possible.

Northern catalpa trees make lovely shade trees for backyards. Their wide canopies and dense foliage are perfect for shielding you from the sun on a hot day. Follow the tips above, and you'll be lounging under your catalpa for decades.