Weeping Trees

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner


Weeping Trees

I still remember the majestic weeping lindens on the Swarthmore College campus  from when I worked at the Scott Arboretum many years ago.

While I have trouble keeping up with the name changes, it is referred to both as Tilia petiolaris and  Tilia tomentosa 'Petiolaris,' it's an elegant beauty, no matter what you call it.  Reaching 60 to 80' tall and 30 to 40' wide at maturity, this linden is best suited for large properties or parks. The handsome green foliage with silver undersides, the intoxicating  scent of the flowers, both to bees and humans,  and its form, make this tree a winner in four seasons. While my own garden is too small to accommodate a tree this large, there are myriad choices of weepers that add a sense of drama to your landscape without taking up too much space.  

Japanese maples are popular weepers that come in many different sizes. A fairly recent introduction Acer palmatum 'Ryusen' offers a strict vertical curtain of foliage that turns brilliant shades of red and orange in the fall. It's important to note that this tree, like many weeping or pendulous types, needs to be staked as a young tree until it reaches a desired height. 

I have long been a fan of katsura, Cercidiphyllum japonicum, especially in the autumn when the leaves turn yellow and begin to fall.  Covering the ground like a carpet, they give off a distinct sugary scent like burning sugar or cotton candy.  'Morioka Weeping,” a graceful form, is one that I first admired in Ozzie Johnson's garden, a keen plantsman with a passion for collecting and growing unusual plants.  What I like about this weeping katsura is its upright habit and the long sweeping branches which form a curtain of green lace-like foliage.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum 'Morioka Weeping

For smaller weepers, there are several selections of redbud with rose-pink flowers including Cercis canadensis 'Lavender Twist' (also known as Covy)  and Cercis canadensis subsp. texensis 'Traveller.'   'Lavender Twist' grows to 5' high and 8' wide in 30 years.  The selection Traveller has handsome glossy green foliage and forms a dome  that is 8 to 10' high and 8 to 12' wide.  Both of these benefit from staking as young trees so they develop trunks. These multi-season trees display beautiful blooms in spring and interesting forms in the winter garden. If you don't have room in your garden, consider growing either one of these in a container.   

ceris Canadensis Traveller)

Styrax is a favorite genus of mine that offers fragrant flowers, showy bark and attractive foliage.  The selection Styrax japonicus 'Fragrant Fountains' also has a graceful weeping habit.  Growing 10' tall by 7' wide, this tree makes a handsome specimen or focal point.  

Styrax japonicus

The weeping persimmon, Diospyros kaki 'Pendula,' is not only ornamental but produces edible fruits in the autumn.  During spring and summer its glossy foliage and pendulous branches add to its charm.  

Diospyros kaki 'Pendula' in November

Weeping trees offer whimsy, make dramatic focal points or striking accents, and   draw the eye to their distinctive shapes during every season.  Other weepers to consider include weeping cherries, weeping willows and the native winged elm, 'Ulmus alata 'Parasol.'   

 Ulmus alata 'Parasol' in spring
Ulmus alata 'Parasol' in winter