Attractive, medium-sized deciduous trees with broad-ovate foliage and lovely showy summer flowers. Suitable for larger gardens.
Botanical Name: Catalpa
Common Names: Indian-bean-tree, cigar tree, smoking bean, catawba
Foliage: Deciduous, large broad-ovate leaves.
Blossom: White flower panicles, usually spotted yellow, orange and purple. Often followed by slender bean-like fruits in autumn. Fruit is ornamental and not edible.
Flowering Period: Summer
Soil: Moist but well-drained soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.
Conditions: Full sun, any aspect, in a sheltered location.
Habit: Low forking, wide spreading.
Type: Medium-size tree.
Origin: North America and Asia
Hardiness: Hardy in the UK.
Plant bare-rooted trees from November to March. Plant container-grown specimens at any reasonable time.
Plant in a moist but well-drained deep rich loam, in a sunny situation. Dislikes heavy soils and exposed sites. Enrich the planting soil with plenty of well-rotted garden compost and stake firmly.
Makes a lovely specimen tree in a sheltered location but give it plenty of room to spread.
Note: These trees usually don't usually flower until they reach a height of 10ft (3m) or more.
Protect young plants from late spring frosts. Shelter from strong harsh winds as the branches can easily break.
Not necessary, except to remove any damaged, dead or crossing branches in late autumn or winter.
Can be affected by verticillium wilt and honey fungus.
Sow seed of species outside in spring, in a well prepared seed-bed. Increase cultivars by rooting cuttings in a propagator in spring or by grafting under glass in early spring.
Catalpa bignonioides (Indian bean tree) is a wide spreading form with white, foxglove-like flowers flecked yellow and purple - followed by long, slender, persistent pods. Height to 30ft (10m). Cultivar 'Nana' is a more compact form. Cultivar 'Aurea' is a golden form with highly attractive foliage. For sale at Crocus.
Catalpa speciosa (Western Catalpa) similar to bignonioides but it is taller and less spreading. Height 40 to 100ft (12-30m)
Catalpa ovata (Chinese catalpa) bears distinctly lobed leaves and smaller flowers. Height and spread to 30ft (10m).
Catalpa fargesii (native to China) bears broadly ovate leaves and small panicles of pinkish flowers. Height 30 to 60ft (10-20m).