Ash Trees: Everything You Need to Know

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Learn everything that you need to know about ash trees!

What You’ll Learn

Ash trees, or Fraxinus excelsior, are native to the eastern United States. More than 60 ash tree species have been identified, and most of these are considered medium- to large-sized trees that reach maximum heights of between 32 and 100 feet. They are hardy between zones two and nine, making them a good choice for many climates.

An ash tree may be identified by its opposite branching, which means that each limb has a mate protruding from the opposite side of the trunk. Also known for their compound leaves, ash trees have between five and nine leaflets per leaf with a bud at the base of the stem. Older ash trees may be identified by the diamond patterns in their bark.

Care Guide

If you’re planting an ash tree, then it is wise to choose a sunny spot with lots of open area around it. Planting in the fall frequently is recommended.

Dig a hole that is two or three times larger than the root bulb. Dampen the root bulb before putting it in the ground. Press the soil back in place around the tree’s trunk and give it plenty of water.

One reason why many people enjoy ash trees is that they require virtually no care. You may want to stake a young ash tree if it is in a very windy spot. Otherwise, it needs little care.

Only add fertilizer containing phosphorus and potassium during the first few months after the tree’s planting if your soil is exceptionally poor. Use a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer later if you feel that growth is not as vigorous as it should be.

Pruning is rarely if ever, required. An ash tree that is left alone to grow takes on an elegant shape quite naturally. If you find that it is necessary to prune away fragile or dead branches, then it makes the most sense to do so in October.

Ash trees growing robustly with proper nutrients and water

Companion Plants

Because ash trees are deciduous, you know that they will monopolize light and water. This means that whatever you plant with them will need to have plenty of fertilizer and water from you.

Some reliable choices are various spotted laurel varieties as well as shrubs like Euonymus Japonica. Shade-loving varieties like bleeding hearts, hostas, and ferns also may do well under these wide-spreading trees. Ground cover plants such as brunnera macrophylla, cyclamen hererefolium, and forget-me-nots also are excellent choices.

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About the author: Carley Miller is a horticultural expert at TheGreenPinky. She previously owned a landscaping business for 25 years and worked at a local garden center for 10 years.

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