Fruit tree of the Fagaceae family, the chestnut has long been valued for its many culinary and decorative uses, among others. Formerly very popular, this deciduous tree lives for several centuries and generally begins to bear fruit after a number of years. The chestnut tree is now grown for its ornamental value and is easy to plant and maintain.

Known by the Latin name Castanea sativa, the chestnut is a very impressive tree that blooms every year in late spring, between the months of May and June. Originally from Asia Minor, this fruit tree generally grows naturally in many European forests. Very slow to grow and develop, it unfortunately produces fruit for the first time after a long growing period stretched over nearly twenty years. However, after this growth period, the chestnut can reach a final height that often ranges between fifteen and thirty meters. While many varieties of chestnut exist in nature, it is also good to know that some of them are much more interesting than others in terms of hardiness and fruiting. Thus, when selecting species, one should privilege varieties such as “Nouzillard,” the “Marlhac” or “Marigoule”. However, if you choose to grow a chestnut for decorative purposes, choose without hesitation the “Variegata” that will surely delight you with the beautiful colouring of its leaves during summer and fall.

How to plant horse chestnut?

To allow your young chestnut to thrive, it is best to plant it in a selected space in the garden where its roots will have enough room to expand as it grows. If you give it enough space, your chestnut may well be planted near other plants of less substantial branching.  Before planting your tree, make sure that it will be able to remain in one place to avoid uprooting that would subsequently affect its future development. To put it in the ground, wait until early fall or late winter, but be sure to avoid very cold periods as low temperatures do not suit it well.  Avoid heavy, poorly drained soil that will prevent your chestnut from growing well and instead favour a rather light soil making sure to enrich it with an adequate amount of compost before planting. For the roots to properly adhere to the ground, remember to dig a wide and very deep hole. In terms of exposure, choose a place that is well-lit throughout the day and make sure that it is not too windy.

How to maintain horse chestnut?

Maintenance of the chestnut does not generally present any difficulty. Thus, thinning branches regularly will hardly be necessary unless you want it to have a particular shape. However, regularly removing dead or damaged branches favours the emergence of new shoots, while cleaning up dead leaves accumulated around the tree curbs the proliferation of certain diseases, as the chestnut has an unfortunate tendency to be a victim of many parasites that can be more or less hazardous to its health. Thus, it is particularly important to regularly eliminate sources of proliferation to reduce any risk of contamination. During its early years, your young tree will need to be protected by mulch in winter to prevent it from being subjected to the harmful effects of freezing. This precaution will be done away with once it has grown, as the chestnut tree usually becomes strong and robust as the years pass.

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Published in Large trees by Alexander on 04 Jul 2011