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How to Grow: Linden
full sun, part sun
Bloom Period and Seasonal Color
Mid summer with small creamy yellow flowers
Mature Height x Spread
50 to 60 feet x 20 to 40 feet with some dwarf versions
attracts beneficials, drought tolerant
There is something hopelessly romantic about the linden tree. Maybe it’s the dark green, heart-shaped leaves with light green undersides that flutter in the breeze. Perhaps it’s the fragrant flowers in early summer that perfume a street. Maybe it’s because you can make a sweet tea from those flowers. This widely grown tree is a favorite for roadsides, yards and wide-open spaces. While it’s a large tree growing to 50 feet tall, it also is manageable in the landscape. The shape tends to be pyramidal or oval and it has a naturally well-kept appearance. It’s a hardy, tough tree that tolerates air pollution, poor soils and other factors commonly found in urban settings.
When, Where and How to Plant
Linden trees are hardy throughout New England. Purchase trees from your local nursery and plant from spring to early fall in a full to part sun location. Linden trees grow best in well-drained, moist, fertile soils, but are very adaptable to less than favorable conditions. Space trees 20 to 30 feet apart.
Water young trees well. Older trees are drought tolerant. Mulch around the base of trees, especially those growing in lawn area, with wood chips or bark mulch to maintain consistent soil moistures levels and protect the trunk for damage due to lawn mowers and string trimmers. Fertilize young trees in spring with a tree plant food. Older trees don’t need fertilization.
Regional Advice and Care
Linden trees only need pruning to remove dead, diseased and broken branches in spring. They can be pruned into an informal hedge, shearing the branches in spring and early summer to keep the tree size manageable. On young trees handpick, trap and apply organic sprays to control Japanese beetles. Spray to control aphids whose feeding causes sooty mold disease. On older trees the damage isn’t life threatening and there’s little need for controls.
Companion Planting and Design
Linden trees are classic street trees in urban areas. But they also are a good choice as a shade tree in a large lawn. By keeping linden sheared, they make a good, large sized hedge. Because of their tolerance of a variety of soil conditions and drought, they make good trees for areas with lots of pavement, such as islands in parking lots. Dwarf versions can even be grow in large planter boxes.
‘Greenspire’ is a popular selection for its narrow, oval shape, uniform branching and tolerance of poor soil conditions. ‘Shamrock’ is a newer selection that’s similar to ‘Greenspire’, but grows faster with a more open crown. ‘Chancellor’ is a narrower growing tree, only reaching 20 feet wide, with wide branch angles that are less likely to break in storms. ‘Green Globe’ is a dwarf version that only grows 15 feet tall.
Excerpted from my book, New England Getting Started Garden Guide.