Liquidambar styraciflua 'Slender Silhouette'
- Position: full sun
- Soil: moist, well-drained, acidic to neutral soil
- Rate of growth: average
- Flowering period: May
- Hardiness: fully hardy
There are not too many trees that are suitable for small gardens, so we were delighted when this one was recently introduced from the USA, where it has already won a Gold Medal. It is a cultivar of the American sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua, and as the name suggests it has a tall, slender habit. Like its parent, it produces lustrous, maple-like green leaves, which take on spectacular shades of orange and crimson in the autumn before they fall - especially if they are grown on acidic soils with lots of sun. It will also produce curious, spikey fruits that ripen from green to brown, and hang from the branches like exotic dangly earings. An easy to grow tree that will reach around 18m tall (it puts on an average of 30-60cm (1-2ft) each year), but will only spread to around 2m wide.
The tree has glossy green maple-like leaves in summer, which turn to rich red, orange and golden shades in the autumn holding on to the tree for some time, with the best red colours produced on acid soils. It has insignificant flowers, but produces golf-ball sized brown spiky fruits. Sweetgums are soil tolerant but prefer deep well-drained soil in a sunny spot and once established can withstand both temporary flooding or drought. This variety won a gold medal in America in 2010 from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and we expect it to be very popular over here.
- Garden care: When planting, incorporate lots of well-rotted manure or garden compost into the planting hole and stake firmly. Requires minimal pruning. Remove any broken, diseased or crossing branches in late autumn or winter.
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I'm looking for a tree to plant at the side of my front driveway. The planting hole is only 3m from my house however and close to a manhole (drains). Would this tree be suitable/unstable? Looking for a compact tree ideally which has a root system which is not too shallow sow it wont disturb the drives surface in years to come. Thanks!Asked on 31/3/2015 by Pete from Brixton, London
The general rule is that you should not plant a tree any closer to a house than its eventual height. Slender Silhouette gets pretty big eventually, so I would say it is too close, however people often break this rule and get away with it. It is also worth keeping in mind that if you have lighter, sandier soil, it will move more easily when the trees roots grow, rather than a heavy clay that tends to creates 'heave'.Answered on 2/4/2015 by Anonymous from crocus
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