Fringetrees are called such because of their springtime flowers-the white, fluffy (fringe-like) blooms appear in late spring and are pleasantly fragrant. The foliage is large and dark green, taking on golden hues in autumn. Plants are relatively slow growers.
- Common name: Fringetree
- Botanical name: Chionanthus virginicus
- Zones: 5 to 8
- Size: To 20 feet and wide
- From: Areas of North America
- Family: Oleaceae (olive family)
- Sun: Full sun or partial shade. Partial shade is best in especially hot areas.
- Soil: Moist, but well-drained slightly acidic soil rich in organic matter. Amend soil with organic matter before planting.
- Moisture: Keep the soil evenly moist.
- Zones: 5 to 8; some gardeners report the plants survive well in Zone 4, especially if the fringetree is planted in a sheltered spot.
- Mulch: A 2- to 4-inch-thick layer of mulch over the soil around the tree is beneficial for conserving soil moisture, reducing competition from weeds, and protecting the trees from lawn mowers. Keep the mulch at least 4 inches from the plant's stem.
- Pruning: Pruning is generally unnecessary except to remove diseased or dead wood. Improper pruning can ruin the plant's natural shape.
- Fertilizer: Fertilizer is generally unnecessary in the soils rich in organic matter that the plant likes. However, if fertilizing, use a timed-release product in spring.
- Propagation is difficult; it's best to purchase new plants.
- Fringetrees are largely ignored by pests and diseases.
- Powdery mildew: This disease tends to appear in mid- to late summer and looks like someone dusted affected leaves with a grayish powdery covering. The leaves then drop off. To deter the disease, prune the plant to keep good air flow and avoid wetting the foliage in afternoons and evenings.
- This plant is adaptable-grow it either as a large shrub or small tree.
- White fringetrees are dioecious plants, meaning each plant is either male or female. Male trees tend to have larger blooms; female trees (if their blooms are pollinated) bear purple fruits that can attract wildlife.