3 easy tips for growing Hornbeam

October 9, 2015

Hornbeam is a sturdy tree with delicate leaves which adds a rambling, natural look to your yard. These tips will help you understand and care for this beautiful tree.

3 easy tips for growing Hornbeam

1. Hornbeam basics

American Hornbeam is a sinewy tree also known as Ironwood or Blue Beech. The names come from its hard wood, bluish gray bark and appearance which is similar to a Beech.

Its cousin the Hop Hornbeam also has strong wood and the same tough constitution. These trees have a small stature, neat appearance and spreading limbs.

2. Types of Hornbeam

These undemanding species grow slowly to nine metres. You can tuck them into a border or foundation grouping without fear that they will outstrip their allotted spaceanytime soon. These pointers will give you a good idea of what’s out there in the Hornbeam family and what's best for your garden:

  • American Hornbeam and Hop hornbeam are Eastern North American natives with very large natural ranges.
  • European Hornbeam is similar and popular for hedges because it withstands shearing well.
  • 'Fastigiata' is a strongly upright variety that spreads out a bit with age and is often available at nurseries. It grows to 15 metres and makes an excellent landscape tree for cold climates.


The two species share many similarities but there are some features that distinguish them:

  • American Hornbeam has smooth bark covering subtle ripples in the trunk.
  • Hop Hornbeam has rough bark with a shredded texture.
  • American Hornbeam flowers are inconspicuous catkins that appear in spring. In the fall, they are followed by a crop of nutlike seeds that birds feed on.
  • Hop Hornbeam has showy fruit clusters in summer that dangle from branch tips and look like the flowers.

3. How to crow and care for Hornbeam

For best results, select a site that resembles the Hornbeam's natural habitat. American Hornbeam is a lowland tree happiest in a moist, shady place, while Hop Hornbeam grows best on higher ground in sun or partial shade. These tips will help:

  • Hornbeams are tough to transplant, so don't plan to move one after it's in the ground. Choose a tree in a large nursery container or a burlap-balled tree with a big soil ball.
  • Plant in spring and be careful not to plant too deeply, as burying the lower section of the trunk can lead to problems with disease.
  • Hornbeams are susceptible to damage by gypsy moth larvae, which eat the leaves in midsummer. However, not every caterpillar is a pest.
  • American Hornbeams are important food for the larvae of tiger swallowtail and other butterflies. Step in with the biological control BT, used as directed on the label if dark, hairy gypsy moth caterpillars feed in large numbers.

Easy care Hornbeam

Very easy to care for, these stunning trees will add a wood-like appearance to your yard all year round. These easy care tips will help you grow Hornbeam in your garden with success.

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