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Lawn & Garden

Sweetgum, Liquidambar Styraciflua

Common Name:  American sweetgum

Type: tree

Family: Altingiaceae

Zone: 5 to 9     Find Your Zone

Height: 50 to 80 feet

Width: 40 to 50 feet

Sun exposure: full sun to partial shade

Fall Color: red, purple, yellow and orange

Soil: well drained, acidic, adaptable

Leaves: deciduous

Fertilizer: Vigoro Tree, Shrub and Evergreen or Miracle Gro Evergreen Tree Spikes


This tree is known for its 5 star leaves and the spiky balls that they drop throughout the year but in the fall is where this tree shines the brightest. This tree has brilliant fall color and represents the reds, oranges, yellows and purples like a boss. This tree produces seeds that are a very popular source of food for several varieties of birds, as well as squirrels and chipmunks.

This tree is a native here in Georgia and not heavily propagated, as there is little demand for it, as there are better options.


STEP 1: Digging the hole

  • Find a location that has suitable sun exposure for your particular type of plant.
  • Dig your hole an inch or two shallower than the rootball of the plant.
  • Dig the hole twice the diameter of the rootball.
  • Scuff up the sides of the hole with a shovel to help roots break through the native soil.

STEP 2: Putting plant in hole

  • When removing the plant from the pot, check to see if the roots were circling the pot.
  • If the plant is rootbound, gently break up the roots with your hands until loosened up.
  • Set plant level, in the center of the hole.
  • Make sure the top of the rootball is just above soil level.

STEP 3: Amending the soil and filling in the hole

  • Amend the soil with proper amendments for your soil type. 
  • Incorporate 50% native soil with 50% amendment soils like garden soil, composted manure or soil conditioner.
  • Make sure dirt clods are broken up or removed from hole along with rocks.
  • Fill the hole with soils to the soil level and pack down. Do not cover top of rootball with dirt.
  • Water in thoroughly to remove air pockets.

STEP 4: Mulching and fertilizing

  • Cover the planting site with at least 2 inches of the mulch of your choice (pinestraw, cupress mulch,etc.)
  • High Phosphorus root stimulator fertilizers like Quick Start from Miracle Gro are great to use at time of planting.
  • When planting trees, a tree stake kit may be required to prevent the wind from blowing over or breaking our newly planted tree until it becomes established.

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Posted 2015-11-05T18:34:15+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL Ingar_HD_ATL