A group of long-lived, deciduous trees that thrive in any good garden soil, including chalk. Large and fast growing with a broad, spreading crown.
Botanical Name: Fagus
Common Names: Beech
Foliage: Deciduous, ovate, green leaves. Yellow-green when young turning golden brown in autumn. Smooth grey bark. Purple or copper foliage forms are also available.
Blossom: Small, green flowers, often followed by bristly fruits.
Flowering Period: Early spring.
Soil: Moist but well-drained to well–drained soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.
Conditions: Full sun or partial shade, in any aspect.
Habit: Tall, broad, spreading.
Type: Large tree.
Origin: Asia, Europe and North America.
Hardiness: Fully hardy in the UK.
Plant during the dormant season (between October and February). Grow in any ordinary, well-drained garden soil, in full sun or partial shade. Position in full sun for best colour. Avoid very wet or very dry positions.
The Copper Beech makes a particularly good lawn specimen in large gardens and parkland.
Useful as a hedge or windbreak since it retains its autumn leaves throughout winter providing some privacy and shelter. Space hedging plants 18in-2ft (45-60cm) apart.
Water well until established and water in long periods of drought. Stake young trees.
Prune if necessary, between autumn and early spring. Prune hedges in August and renovate prune in early spring, if necessary.
Can be affected by aphids and beech bark scale . Prone to beech bark disease, fungi, powdery mildews and honey fungus.
Propagate species from seed sown in autumn. Named cultivars are increased by grafting, usually in late winter or early spring.
Fagus sylvatica (common beech, European beech) is a native species that grows quickly to 100ft (30m) or more, so is really only suitable for large gardens. Although it can be grown and pruned as a hedge. When trimmed it retains its dead coppery leaves until spring. Cultivars include:
Fagus grandiflora (American Beech) a tall tree that is renowned for throwing up suckers from the roots, which sometimes forms a thicket round the parent tree. Height to 80ft.