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.

Family: Fagaceae
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.

Planting and Growing Fagus

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.

Taking Care of Fagus

Water well until established and water in long periods of drought. Stake young trees.

Pruning Fagus

Prune if necessary, between autumn and early spring. Prune hedges in August and renovate prune in early spring, if necessary.

Pests and Diseases

Can be affected by aphids and beech bark scale . Prone to beech bark disease, fungi, powdery mildews and honey fungus.

Propagating Fagus

Propagate species from seed sown in autumn. Named cultivars are increased by grafting, usually in late winter or early spring.

Varieties of Fagus

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:

  • 'Aurea Pendula' is a more compact form that is slender and narrowly columnar, with pendulous branches and yellow foliage. Height to 10ft (3m).
  • 'Dawyck Gold' is a compact, columnar tree. The young foliage is bright yellow, maturing to fresh green. Height to 50ft (15m).
  • 'Dawyck Purple' is a slim, columnar tree with rich reddish-purple foliage. Height to 50ft (15m).
  • 'Purple Fountain' (Weeping Purple Beech) is a slender weeping form with pendulous branches of fine purple foliage. Height to 24ft (8m)

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.