The Q&A Archives: Growth Rate

Question: What is the growth rate of a Japanese Snowbell Tree (styrax japonicus) What is the estimated age of a tree that is six feet tall. How long will it take for a six foot tree to get to 9 - 9 1/2 feet.

We plan on buying a tree and would like a tree that is about 10 feet tall and while we don't mind waiting for a six foot tree to get that big, we don't want to wait 10 years to have that happen. What do you suggest.

Thank you for your help.

Pamela Bush-Brisbin
137 Huntville Road
Katonah, NY 10536

Answer: Growth rates are always approximate because the actual results will depend on the planting site and the weather and care as well as the size and health of the tree you start with. As such, age and height and caliper are not necessarily consistent. According to Michael Dirr's "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants" Styrax japonicus will grow to a mature size of 20 to 30 feet tall and at least as wide as it is tall, usually wider. When young, he indicates it can grow fairly quickly as in two to three feet per year when properly watered and fertilized. In general, the older and larger the plant you start with, the more slowly it will re-establish and regain its normal growth rate. So there is some trade off in growth speed the larger the plant you purchase -- an older plant may grow very little for the first few years while it roots and adjusts to its new location. Also, this plant truly requires an evenly moist but well drained, humusy and organic, acidic soil and a location protected from winter winds or it will not do well. And, since size seems to be particularly important to you, keep in mind that it is naturally low branched with a rounded outline and has a beautiful horizontal visual effect due to its branch pattern; this means you need to allow for it to grow wide over time as well as tall. Pruning to keep it small would destroy the natural beauty of this tree. Your local professional nursery staff should be able to help you analyze the growing site and see if it is suited to this tree; if not they should be able to help you select something that will thrive there and also meet your design goals.

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