Information About Golden Raintree

Information About Golden Raintree

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Golden Raintree Information: Tips For Golden Raintree Care

By Teo Spengler

The golden raintree produces tiny canary-yellow flowers in showy panicles that can get 12 inches (30 cm.) long. If you are interested in learning how to grow a golden raintree, click this article for additional golden raintree information.

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How to Prune a Golden Rain Tree

The Golden Rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) blooms in mid-summer. The yellow conspicuous flowers hang in grape-like clusters over the tree and develop into bright greenish yellow fruit that dries and turns to pink then brown in the fall. The golden rain tree is an attractive small tree up to 30 feet tall and 25 feet wide and is tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions. The golden rain tree is appropriate for USDA zones 5 and warmer. The tree grows best if planted in the early spring as the ground warms. Prune in winter when the tree is dormant.

Prune a young golden rain tree for the health of the tree only and not for shape. A young golden rain tree is naturally thin with uneven growth. The only pruning that should be done is removing the lower limbs that are dead or any limbs that cross other limbs and touch, causing wear on the limbs where they have contact with each other.

  • The Golden Rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) blooms in mid-summer.
  • The tree grows best if planted in the early spring as the ground warms.

Prune an older golden rain tree by removing lower limbs that interfere with access to the lower portion of the tree such as when mowing or cultivating. Cut the lower branches at the branch collar or the thick area where the branch meets the main trunk. Do not cut the branches flush with the tree or right against the trunk because it will delay the healing process and allow damaging insects or disease to enter the tree.

Prune out dead or diseased limbs as the tree gets older as an ongoing maintenance program. The tree naturally develops into a rounded even shape if planted in full sun with plenty of room to spread out. Occasionally, smaller limbs inside the tree canopy will die out and these need to be pruned to give the tree a neat appearance.


How to Take Care of a Golden Rain Tree

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Golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) is a deciduous member of the soapberry (Sapindaceae) family that offers an impressive range of ornamental features. A native of North Korea and China, the tree boasts panicles of bright yellow, summer blooming flowers lantern-like, papery seed capsules and feathery leaves that shift from pinkish or purplish bronze in the spring to green in the summer and yellow in the fall. The tree is on the small side, growing to a mature height between 30 to 40 feet with a nearly equal spread. Golden rain tree is an adaptable, lovely tree that tolerates less than ideal urban conditions.

Choose a bright, sunny location for your golden rain tree in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 to 9. The tree is adaptable to soil as long as it is well draining.

Water the tree regularly with a garden hose throughout the growing season. The tree is drought tolerant once established, and conversely, also tolerant of flooding.

Prune any crossing branches with pruning shears in the winter, when the tree is dormant. Prune dead, broken or diseased branches anytime of year.

Check branches occasionally for scale insects, which form lumpy hard or soft colonies. Spray the tree in the spring with regular applications of a horticultural oil such as neem oil to smother unhatched eggs.

Sweep walkways or driveways with a broom if leaves, flowers and seed capsules accumulate and make a mess.

  • Plant golden rain tree in a sheltered location to given the tree protection from heavy winds, which can break the tree's somewhat brittle wood. Golden rain tree may be propagated by seeds, soaked for 24 hours in warm water to increase the chance of germination. Plant seeds in their final location in the garden in late spring or early summer when there is no chance of frost.
  • Trees planted in compacted soils may develop root rot. The University of Florida IFAS Extension states that trees transplanted in the fall generally do not establish well. Avoid overhead irrigation, which makes the tree more susceptible to leaf spot. If canker occurs, prune out infected branches.

Michelle Wishhart is a writer based in Portland, Ore. She has been writing professionally since 2005, starting with her position as a staff arts writer for City on a Hill Press, an alternative weekly newspaper in Santa Cruz, Calif. An avid gardener, Wishhart worked as a Wholesale Nursery Grower at Encinal Nursery for two years. Wishhart holds a Bachelor of Arts in fine arts and English literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.


Golden rain trees are winter deciduous trees that mature roughly to 25 to 35 tall. They bear leaves composed of many dark green leaflets. The bouganvillea golden rain tree's leaves are twice-pinnate, meaning its larger leaves have second tiers of branches that bear leaflets. In late summer, these trees produce millions of tiny yellow flowers on wispy clusters on branch tips to make the tree look like a powdery, airy golden "rain" or mass of lace. Following the flowers, papery seed capsules form, first pale green, then ripening to shades of deep salmon-pink or tan and brown. These three-sided, lantern-like capsules persist into winter and at times look like flowers themselves, adding color and texture to the tree's canopy when viewed from a distance.

  • These three species of golden rain tree are native to eastern Asia.
  • The bouganvillea golden rain tree's leaves are twice-pinnate, meaning its larger leaves have second tiers of branches that bear leaflets.

Golden rain trees provide fast-growing shade to gardens and add floral color in late summer when other popularly grown landscape trees are green. They striking when in full bloom, and the papery seeds provide ornamentation on the tree, and if cut and dried they make floral arrangement fillers. These trees also demonstrate a remarkable tolerance for less than ideal growing conditions, handling drought, wind, heat and an array of nutrient poor and various pH soil types. They are popular for urban areas needing a tough shade or street tree.


Establishment and Care

Spring is the optimal time to plant a golden rain tree. Look for trees that have a straight trunk and well-spaced branching pattern in the nursery, as these are more likely to develop a pleasing shape later on. Staking the tree with a stout wooden post on either side is important to keep it from toppling over in high winds before the root system is established.

The beauty of the golden rain tree is the minimal care it requires. Water weekly for the first couple of years and maintain a weed free area around the trunk, ideally covered with mulch.

They don't always take on a picture perfect shape on their own, so selective pruning may be in order. Remove branches that have either a very wide or very narrow angle with the trunk and thin out smaller branches as needed to maintain an open crown with an even distribution of foliage. Any deadwood that appears in the canopy should be removed.

Potential Problems and Invasive Tendencies

Pests and disease generally aren't an issue with the golden rain tree. However, in certain parts of the country it has a tendency to spread itself by seed, popping up all over the landscape where it is not desired. It can even spread into natural areas and displace native species - this is particularly problematic in the Deep South and other warm climates.

If you find golden rain seedlings growing where you don't want them, there are two primary options for controlling them. One is to remove them by hand, roots and all. This is effective for scattered seedlings less than waist high, but gets difficult once the trees are much bigger or if there are hundreds to deal with. In this case, the best approach is to cut them to the ground, whether with a mower for tiny seedlings or a saw for more established ones. They sprout from their roots, so be prepared to chop them down again as soon as re-growth occurs, repeating the process until the root system is exhausted.


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