How To Grow And Care For A Golden Chain Tree

Laburnum anagyroides, known as common laburnum, golden rain tree, or golden chain tree, is a small tree or large shrub that is indigenous to the mountains of central and southern Europe. It has low branches, sheds seasonally, and usually reaches up to 15 to 25 feet in height (via the Missouri Botanical Garden). They are part of the Fabaceae/Leguminosae family, which is the third-largest plant family and the second-largest family of flowering plants. Most of these trees and shrubs have a lot of economic value, according to ScienceDirectThe Spruce actually refers to them as the "Goldilocks of the plant world" due to both their appearance and temperature needs.

Golden chain trees have smooth bark and spreading branches. According to NC State Extension, their oval leaves are generally divided into three leaflets and have long stalks that attach the leaf blade to the stem. Also, their flowers smell sweet. Go Botany lists more of the golden chain tree's characteristics and behaviors: leaves that fall off in winter or wilt but stay on the plant; no spines, thorns, or prickles; and dry fruit that opens up when it's ready. Additionally, the species has both male and female reproductive organs (via PFAF Plant Database). They flower from May to June, the seeds ripen from September to October, and they are popular for their late bloom of yellow flowers in the spring.

How to use a golden chain tree in garden

Golden chain trees will be stunning additions to your patio or garden. The clusters of golden yellow blossoms create a canopy, what these showy flowers are most popular for. With the clusters hanging from the tree, you will certainly liven up your environment. Having this abundant pop of color when you look outside will also lift your mood.

The Missouri Botanical Garden says golden chain trees are good background plants. They recommend planting them on an incline or slope to prevent excess soil moisture in the soil they're in. They can be used as a hedge or as flowering trees. If you don't have a lot of space in your garden, they can make a great center point, says the Comox Valley Record. The Spruce advises not to plant near a garden where food is grown or a pond to avoid its roots releasing poisonous toxins into the ground.

As you choose a location, keep in mind that golden chain trees grow fast at about 2 feet every year. Their strong scent, depending on how you feel about it, can also be a factor in where you place them.

How to grow a golden chain tree

According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, golden chain trees are best grown in organically enriched soils that drain well and contain a medium level of moisture. They grow best in full sun to part shade — full sun in the northern part of its growing range, but then part afternoon shade in hotter climates. It performs best where summer and winter temperatures are moderate.

eHow provides a guide to propagating a golden chain trees. Between late fall and early winter, put 3- to 5-inch cuttings from a mature tree in potting soil in a container with good drainage and cover them with clear plastic. Keep the pot in a warm area that receives bright but indirect light. The potting soil should be a bit moist until they sprout, then you can remove the plastic and place them in a new location where there's more light. When they mature in the next spring, plant them outside.

If you need to grow golden chain tree in a small space or container, it will be easy due to its shallow roots that don't spread, per the Comox Valley Record. Fertilize them in early spring before bud break using a fertilizer made for flowering trees and shrubs. It's also important that the fertilizer contains a high level of acid because golden chains flourish in soils that are high in pH (via World of Flowering Plants). Otherwise, follow the package instructions as you would with other plants.

How to care for a golden chain tree

Even though the golden chain tree loves sunlight, it doesn't tolerate heat well. World of Flowering Plants recommends placing it where it can receive morning sun but not the direct afternoon sun. It should be planted in rich soil that has good drainage. If it's in a container, it should have holes. Water this plant frequently, at least once a week and more when it's hot. You can prune this tree after the blooming period; once a year is enough to keep the tree in the shape or size you like.

Are you thinking of growing a golden chain in the U.S.? Plant Index says to check your USDA hardiness zone because the golden chain tree is hardy down to USDA zone 5, but is not recommended for USDA zones 7 and above. Plant Index also names climate as the biggest factor for successful growth. Golden chains do not thrive in areas with high humidity, so normal humidity is needed.

Twig blight, a fungal disease that occurs when leaf buds open, doesn't happen frequently but can be a potentially serious disease. Other disease problems are canker and leaf spots, which involve infections and discoloration. Watch out for aphids and mealybugs, too.

Are golden chain trees toxic?

All parts of the golden chain tree, especially its attractive seeds, are very poisonous, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. This is due to the presence of cytisine, which is a highly toxic alkaloid that has been reported to poison humans and animals that have ingested the seeds. Cytisine causes vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, and can even be fatal. People take it to induce vomiting and relieve constipation, but there is no scientific substantiation to back up such uses, says WebMD. When processed, however, the seeds are used in medicine and the plant for pesticides, according to RxList.

The bean-like pods that contain the seeds should be removed so that your golden chain tree produces more flowers the next year (via the Comox Valley Record). Gloves should always be used when working with this plant and everyone in the area should be educated about its poisonous properties. If anyone accidentally ingests this, medical attention should be sought right away.

How to repot a golden chain tree

Potting a golden chain tree is not really required since this plant can grow in your backyard soil. However, if you choose to plant it in a pot or container, follow this guide by Greg. To provide your golden chain with more nutrients, Greg says you should repot it after it grows to be twice its size or once a year, whichever is earlier.

If you are growing golden chain tree seeds in a pot, place the pot in a cool area. When the seedlings appear in about three to four weeks, move the pot to a windowsill location that is cool, light, and airy. When it's late spring, move the pot outside and keep it adequately watered. When the seedling grows to twice the height of the pot, transfer it to a larger one about 12 centimeters wide. Move to a larger pot again when the roots become so tangled that there remains little or no space for more growth, as noted by Garden Focused.