Why plant Audubon® Native Kentucky Coffeetree Treeling?
A capital perching tree, Kentucky Coffee Tree will give your backyard birds a fine vantage point from which to survey the land. This noble native grows tall and vase-shaped; it makes an excellent replacement for the majestic Ash Trees that have been decimated by the emerald Ash borer in recent years. Coffee Tree’s huge leaves are composed of dozens of small leaflets that create a pool of dappled shade under the tree—you’ll find this the perfect spot for growing shade-loving plants that provide additional wildlife habitat. In late spring, hummingbirds may visit the greenish-white flowers on female trees.
Coffee anyone? The Kentucky Coffee Tree gives off a tropical vibe, though it’s native to the U.S. This majestic tree is found throughout the Lower Midwest, but only in isolated patches. It gets its name from the fact that settlers used to roast and grind its seeds to make a coffee substitute. The roasting was an important step, because the seeds are toxic if eaten raw. It’s doubtful that the Coffee Tree drink tasted any good, because once the settlers had access to the real thing, they never made it again. Coffee Tree is a dioecious plant, which means that male flowers and female flowers are found on separate trees. Only female trees produce seeds.
How to use Audubon® Native Kentucky Coffeetree Treeling in the landscape?
Kentucky Coffee Tree is one of the last trees to leaf out in the spring, so be patient! When the foliage does emerge, it’s a bright pink color, maturing to a cool blue-green. In fall, the leaflets turn a wonderful radiant yellow, while the leaf stems take on hot pink tones.
Hardiness Zone: 3-8
How To Plant Audubon® Native Kentucky Coffeetree Treeling
Looking for an easy-to-please shade tree? Kentucky Coffee Tree is simple to grow and forgiving of harsh conditions. Give it a site in full sun. Deep, loamy soils on the alkaline side suit it best, but this tree tolerates poor soil. It can also handle extreme heat and humidity, winter lows to -30°F, de-icing salts, and air pollution! Coffee Trees have no major pest or disease issues to worry about.
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 late fall. If planting in the fall, use Elements fertilizer while planting and start your regular annual fertilizing the following 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.