Why plant Audubon® Native American Linden Treeling?
That heavenly season between spring and summer (sprummer?) gets even sweeter with American Linden. That’s when this splendid native shade tree opens its honey-scented flowers, and the fragrance is divine. Honey bees delight in the blooms, too, and turn the nectar into actual honey of a very high grade. Native bees like bumblebees and green metallic bees also get in on the action. For birds, American Linden offers nourishment of another sort—caterpillars! Its broad foliage hosts up to 147 species of moth and butterfly caterpillars, which serve as valuable protein for many (if not most) songbirds. Feed the birds and the bees with this magnificent native tree.
American Linden, also known as Basswood, is found most abundantly in the Great Lakes states. Its range spans the Midwest and the Northeast. This mighty forest tree was once valued for its inner bark fibers, which can be fashioned into strong, supple rope. Its wood is light and quite soft, and has been used to make crates, boxes, lightweight furniture parts, honeycomb frames, and electric guitar bodies. Because the wood is so soft, cavities may develop in old trees, creating homes for hollow-dwelling birds like woodpeckers, bluebirds, titmice, and nuthatches.
How to use Audubon® Native American Linden Treeling in the landscape?
We don’t often think of shade trees as butterfly plants, but some of them are much more important than pretty flowers when it comes to sustaining butterflies. American Linden feeds question mark, mourning cloak, red spotted purple, and eastern tiger swallowtail caterpillars, which—with a little luck—turn into beautiful butterflies that will grace your garden.
Hardiness Zone: 5-9
How To Plant Audubon® Native American Linden Treeling
American Linden is a large, noble tree for spacious sites in full sun or part shade. Clay is acceptable, but the soil should drain well. This tree prefers regular irrigation, though it’s somewhat drought tolerant once established. Mulch with wood chips or bark mulch to keep the root zone cool and moist. American Linden doesn’t cope well with salt or pollution, so it isn’t ideal for urban situations, like some of the European Lindens. It’s also vulnerable to Japanese beetle attacks, so plant with caution if these pests are prevalent in your area.
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 very slowly and very thoroughly. The water needs to reach to the bottom of the root ball and that takes time. 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 as it gives your tree the nutrients it needs to produce lush new growth for the following spring.
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 in mid to late summer. 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.