How to Grow American Hornbeam - Plant Care & Tips

By NorwichGardener Team   /   2024

American hornbeam is a plant that is native to North America. It is a deciduous tree that can grow to be 30 to 50 feet tall. The american hornbeam has a unique appearance with its smooth, grey bark and its small, oval-shaped leaves. The american hornbeam is a popular plant to use in landscaping because it is easy to care for and it is tolerant to a variety of soil types.

How to Grow American Hornbeam - Plant Care & Tips

Also known as

  • Common Hornbeam
  • American Musclewood
  • Blue Beech
  • Ironwood
  • Musclewood

Basic info

  • American hornbeam is a deciduous tree that is native to eastern North America.
  • It typically grows 40-60 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 1-2 feet.
  • The bark is smooth and gray with a distinctive criss-crossing pattern.
  • The leaves are alternate, simple, and elliptical with a toothed margin.
  • The leaves turn yellow or orange in the fall.
  • The flowers are small, greenish-white, and borne in clusters.
  • The fruit is a small, hard, greenish-black drupe.
  • American hornbeam is often used as an ornamental tree.
  • It is also used for hedges, fences, and wildlife habitat.
  • American hornbeam is susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, including scale, aphids, and borers.

Related plant:
Brunfelsia Americana

How to Grow

  1. For american hornbeam, first step is to find a good location. Look for a spot that has good drainage and is in full sun.
  2. Clear the area of any debris and remove any weeds.
  3. loosen the soil with a shovel or tiller.
  4. Dig a hole that is twice the width and depth of the roots ball of your plant.
  5. Place the plant in the hole and backfill with soil, tamping down as you go.
  6. Water the plant deeply.
  7. Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant, keeping it away from the stem.
  8. Fertilize the plant in early spring with a balanced fertilizer.
  9. Prune in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins.
  10. Enjoy your american hornbeam!

Soil Requirement

About soil condition, American hornbeam grows best on moist, well-drained sites, but it is quite tolerant of drier soils and occasional wet conditions. It does not do well in overly alkaline or wet soils. This species has a very dense and tight grain, making it difficult to split.

Light condition

Not too different with other trees, American hornbeam need sun to grow. However, they can also tolerate shade, which makes them a good choice for planting under other trees. They need at least six hours of sunlight a day, but they can also grow in dappled sunlight or light shade.

The Temperature

The temperature condition that is most favorable for the growth of American hornbeam is between 68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. This tree does not tolerate cold well, and its growth will be stunted if the temperature drops below 68 degrees. If the temperature rises above 86 degrees, the tree will experience stress and may stop growing altogether.

Ideal Humidity

Ideal humidity condition for this plant is 50% or below. The American hornbeam can tolerate a wide range of humidity conditions, from as low as 50% up to 100%. However, it prefers 50% or below, as anything above that can lead to problems with its leaves. If the humidity is too high, the leaves will start to drop off and the plant will become stressed.

Fertilizer Requirement

Mentioning fertilizer, this plant doesn't require much. A light feeding in early spring with a balanced fertilizer is all that is necessary. American hornbeam is not picky about soil type, but it does prefer moist, well-drained soil. It is very tolerant of urban conditions and is even resistant to road salt. This tough little tree is also resistant to pests and diseases.

About light

Pruning is an important part of keeping your American hornbeam healthy and vigorous. Prune in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. Remove any dead, diseased, or damaged wood. Cut back any suckers that are growing from the base of the plant. Thin out crowded branches to increase air circulation and light penetration.

About Propagating

Propagation is best done by seed, which should be sown as soon as it ripens in the fall. The seed should be planted in a moist, well-drained, sandy soil and kept moist until germination, which usually occurs in the spring. Seedlings should be transplanted to their permanent location when they are about 6 inches tall. American hornbeam can also be propagated by rooting hardwood cuttings taken from young trees in the fall.

Growth Speed

Usually, the plant growth rate is around 1 foot per year, so this plant is not considered fast-growing. However, in the right conditions and with proper care, it is possible for the plant to grow up to 2 feet in a single year. The american hornbeam is a hardy plant that can withstand a wide range of climates and conditions, so it is a good choice for those who want a low-maintenance plant.

Common Problems

Common problems for this kind of plant are aphids, scale, and sooty mold. Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that feed on the sap of plants. They can be green, black, or brown and are often found in clusters on the undersides of leaves. Scale are small, hard-bodied insects that suck the sap from plants. They are often found on the stems or leaves of plants. Sooty mold is a black fungus that grows on the honeydew produced by aphids and scale.

Basics of Growing

  • Do not forget to water your American hornbeam regularly. The soil should be moist but not wet.
  • Fertilize your American hornbeam every two weeks during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer.
  • Prune your American hornbeam in late winter or early spring to shape it and encourage new growth.
  • Place your American hornbeam in an area that receives full sun to partial shade.
  • Keep an eye out for pests and diseases. hornbeam scale and powdery mildew are two common problems.
  • Harvest the seeds from your American hornbeam in late summer or early fall.
  • Plant your American hornbeam in a well-draining soil.
  • Provide support for your American hornbeam if it is planted in an area that is prone to high winds.
  • Do not plant your American hornbeam too close to other trees or shrubs. This species has a tendency to spread.

Similar Plants

  • American Muscle (american muscle)
  • American Bittersweet (american bittersweet)
  • American Blackberry (american blackberry)
  • American Beech (american beech)
  • American Dogwood (american dogwood)
  • American Cranberry (american cranberry)
  • American Chestnut (american chestnut)
  • American Elm (american elm)
  • American Hornbeam (american hornbeam)
  • American Crystal (american crystal)

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