Sweetgum

  • Liquidambar styraciflua

    Liquidambar styraciflua

    Common Name:

    Sweetgum

    General Information:

    Sweetgum grows naturally in a narrow pyramid. It has glossy, star-shaped leaves which turn bright red, purple, yellow or orange in the fall/early winter. The trunk is normally straight and does not divide into multiple trunks. The bark becomes deeply ridged. It is native to North America.

    Family:

    Hamamelidaceae.

    Lighting:

    Will grow in full sun or partial shade.

    Temperature:

    Zones 5B - 10A. More restricted zones may apply to some of the dwarf varieties.

    Watering:

    It is moderately drought tolerant.

    Fertilizing:

    To retain and produce small leaves, do not feed high nitrogen fast-acting fertilizers. Feeding three times a year is sufficient to maintain good color and healthy growth without enlarging the size of the leaves.

    Pruning and wiring:

    Much shaping can be done by pruning.

    Propagation:

    Cuttings, seeds.

    Repotting:

    They transplant well. Any type of soil with a pH of 7 or less, and with good drainage seems to grow them well. They have heavy root growth so must have root room.

    Pests and diseases:

    Bagworm, fall webworm, leaf miner, cottony-cushion scale, sweetgum scale, walnut scale, and tent caterpillars. Diseases include canker and leaf spots.

    Bibliography:

    USDA Fact Sheet ST - 358

    Compiled by Thomas L. Zane