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Sourwood is a well-kept secret among tree afficianados. It does not grace a lot of homes, and that’s a shame, because it’s one fantastic tree! This elegant, slow-growing native has something to offer in every season—airy sprays of white flowers in summer, lava-red foliage in fall, and handsome, blocky bark the rest of the year. What’s more, it’s a pollinator paradise! Sourwood is not a secret among beekeepers—honey bees relish the blossoms, and from it they make what many consider to be the finest honey in the world. Native bees delight in the blooms, too.
May Benefit & Attract: cardinals & grosbeaks, wrens, sparrows, thrushes, orioles, finches, mockingbirds & thrashers, vireos
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
Size AA (2-3' tall) container grown
- Hardiness Zone: 5-9
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Recommended by Our Growers
Native from Pennsylvania to Florida and west to Indiana, the Sourwood Tree is a wonderful part of our country’s rich natural heritage. What makes it extra-special is that it is the only species of Sourwood (Oxydendrum) in the world. Gardeners in other countries covet our beautiful Sourwoods, but most Americans don’t even know they exist! This elegant tree can be found at forest edges, in fencerows, on streambanks, and atop gravelly ridges in the Southeast. It is one of the very first trees to turn color in the fall, so you might notice it along roadsides in September when driving there—even at 55 mph.
The fragrant white flowers of Sourwood are shaped like tiny, upside-down urns and appear in long, lacy bunches. The blooms bear some resemblance to Lily of the Valley flowers—hence, this tree’s other name, the Lily of the Valley Tree.
How to Grow
Sourwood is a tad fussy in the landscape, but it can be grown well when given what it needs to flourish. Sourwood is in the same family as Azaleas and Rhododendrons, and it relishes the same things that most of those plants do—acidic soil enriched with compost, regular irrigation, good drainage, and a topping of organic mulch. It also benefits from having access to a rich source of beneficial fungi in the soil, which the Bower & Branch™ Soil Enhancer and Fertilizer Element will supply. Site it in a position in full sun for the best flowering and fall color, although light shade is excellent, too. Disease and insect problems are few.
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