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Japanese Stewartia Is a Small Tree with Much to Offer

Virtues: Japanese stewartia is a charming small tree with beautiful summer flowers, good fall foliage color and patchy bark that adds interest to the garden in winter. Although this tree can be a little particular about its needs, it is worth tending wherever it has a good chance of thriving. 


Common name: Japanese stewartia

Botanical name: Stewartia pseudocamellia

Exposure: Full sun to part shade

Flowers: From early to midsummer, large cup-shaped flowers appear on the tree. These have five white petals surrounding a fuzzy center of golden anthers.

Foliage: The three-inch-long oval leaves are dark green in spring and summer. They turn red in the fall before dropping away.

Habit: Japanese stewartia is a deciduous tree that grows 20 to 40 feet tall with a canopy spreading 15 to 30 feet wide. It is a slow grower. The bark of this tree is an appealing mix of gray, tan and reddish-brown patches.

Origin: Stewartia pseudocamellia is native to mountains of Japan and Korea.

How to grow it: Japanese can be hard to establish, but beginning with a small specimen can help increase the odds of success. It prefers rich, light soil with good drainage. It can take full sun to part shade, with some shade being most important in the warmer areas of its growing range. It needs protection from winter winds and summer's hot afternoon sun. This tree does not tolerate drought; it requires consistent water. Zones 5–8.

Image credit: By Emőke Dénes - kindly granted by the author, CC BY-SA 4.0