Why plant Audubon® Native Black Gum?
Though you might not be familiar with the Black Gum tree, you might know of it by one of its other nicknames, such as Sour Gum (to distinguish it from Sweet Gum), Tupelo ("Tupelo honey" is made from its flowers). or Pepperidge (the tree you see on a certain package of cookies). Native to the Eastern U.S., this awe-inspiring shade tree should be more widely embraced as the treasure it is. It sets forests aflame in autumn with fluorescent orange and red foliage, and it will do the same in your yard! Black Gum can stand tall and proud for hundreds of years, so plant this legacy tree where it can live out a long, glorious life.
The early settlers on Martha's Vineyard learned from the native Wampanoag how to manufacture whale oil. As demand for oil grew they began storing and shipping the oil in wooden casks. The Black gum tree, native to the island was key in this production. The gnarled grain of the Black gum resists splintering and was used for making the beetle, or mallet and the bungs, which are the wooden stoppers in the casks. This tree is known to the Islanders as the Beetlebung Tree.
How to use Audubon® Native Black Gum in the landscape?
It isn’t the prettiest name, but wait until you see the gorgeous fiery fall color. This environmentally friendly native tree is moderately sized and has some of the most glorious fall color you will ever see!
Hardiness Zone: 4-9
How To Plant Audubon® Native Black Gum
You cannot plant a finer shade tree than the Black Gum! They prefer full sun, but also tolerates light shade. Black Gums can grow in a wide range of soil conditions and they are free of any major pest or disease problems. This long-living tree is one of the first trees to show fall color and it’s some of the best fall color I’ve ever seen! The Black Gum, when young, will start out by growing rather slowly and have a slightly irregular growth habit, but once established it will take off and become an awesome attention grabber!>
How To Water
Water twice weekly for the first 3-5 weeks; then water weekly for the remainder of the year until winter. When you water, water slowly and thoroughly. Watering needs may be altered due to extreme weather conditions.
How To Fertilize
Incorporate Elements Starter Plant Food granular form into the soil when planting. If planting in spring or summer, start fertilizing late fall using Elements Starter Plant Food granular form on an annual basis each fall. Continue this for the first three years to get your plant well established.
How To Prune
A young tree may need a little extra support to ensure that it lives a long and healthy life. Stake your new Treeling with a 6-8 foot tall wood or bamboo stake. Use expandable ties that will stretch as the tree grows, fastening the stake to the main trunk from the base to the top. Check the ties every few months, at least twice a year; ensuring the ties are not digging into the trunk. If there is any sign of this, take the tie off and reattach it, giving the tree more room to grow.
As your tree grows, remove a few of the lower branches each year if you do not want your tree to have lower limbs. Remove these lower branches before they reach 1/2 inch in diameter. It is better to make small cuts to avoid cutting a large, more mature branch - this is too stressful for the tree. Each year, make any corrective pruning needed, paying particular attention to removing damaged branches, rubbing branches, multiple leaders at the top, or suckers at the base. Limit any pruning to no more than 25% of the branching structure in a given year. Pruning benefits the tree and helps to achieve a balanced tree form.
After two or three years you can feel free to remove the stake from the tree.