AESCULUS (Buckeye, Horse Chestnut) Hippocastanaceae A. species
HABITAT: Native to Europe, North America and Asia. Zone 3-10.
HABIT: Coarse textured, large showy trees with dense, palm-shaped foliage of 5-7 leaflets and with flower spikes of pink, red, white or greenish-yellow. 1" flowers. Leaves and seed (nuts) are poisonous. Trees drop leaves in early fall with very little fall color. Trees litter ground with twigs, leaves, etc. 1" dark brown nuts encased in smooth or prickly husk follow flowers. Trees tolerate pollution and salt spray.
SEED GERMINATION AND CULTURE: Place fresh seeds in bottom of refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit for 16 weeks (A. parviflora does not require this treatment and can be sown ripe in July). Remove from refrigerator and sow in flats of sandy soil mix or Park's Grow Mix with sand added, transplanting to peat pots or pellets, or sow directly to peat pots or pellets and shift to 4" peat pots when roots emerge from pot walls. Grow on in a protected spot (Cold Frame, etc.), shifting to final position when roots emerge from larger pot walls and seedling trees are well established. Set out in full sun to light shade in deeply worked, rich soil which will hold moisture and deep enough to accommodate large root system. Keep moist to prevent leaves from browning at the edges and dropping early. Plant in fall or spring. Fertilize well at the rate of 1 lb. per 1" of trunk diameter. Punch holes in soil around the tree 18-24" apart and 12-18" deep, placing holes at the drip line (2/3 of the distance from the trunk to the outer edge of the leaf line). Water in well. Prune in late winter or spring.
SPECIES: A. x carnea (Red Horse Chestnut) 75'. Zone 3. Pink, red flowers, upright clusters, mid-May. Rounded head, pyramidal when young. Coarse foliage. Palm-like leaves with 5 leaflets. No fall color. Spreads 25-30'. Europe.
A. glabra (Ohio Buckeye) 30'. Zone 3. Flowers: small greenish-yellow in upright clusters, mid-May. Rounded head. Coarse foliage with palm-like leaves with 5 leaflets. Fall color: Brilliant orange. Spread 20-30'. Central United States.
A. hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) 75'. Zone 3. White flowers in upright spikes, mid-May. Massive, rounded. Coarse foliage. Palm-like with 5-7 leaflets. Double varieties available. Leaves and nut-like seeds, poisonous. 35-40' spread. Switzerland.
INSECTS: Japanese Beetles, Caterpillars: Use an approved insecticide such as Sevin.
DISEASES: Leaf Scorch, Leaf Blotch: Use an approved fungicide such as Captan. Anthracnose, Canker: Use an approved fungicide such as Maneb, Zineb.
PROPAGATION: Grafting (spring), budding (July), root, stem cuttings, seeds.