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Catalpa Trees for Your Landscape

Making It Grow! Minute logo

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Since summer seems interminable this year, I’m desperate for signs of fall. Several catalpa trees on my daily drive have caught my eye recently with their large leaves sporting a yellow autumnal color. Catalpa is known as a fisherman’s tree since it the larval food source for the catalpa sphinx moth. It has large, ten inches or so across, heart-shaped leaves that are yellow-green. Their fall color is described as dull but when growing against the background of scrubby pines and black jack oaks, it looks pretty attractive to me. And when it blooms, oh my gosh, the huge panicles of white flowers with purple and yellow coloration are a show stopper. Described by some as weedy, Catalpa bignonioides isn’t a tree for a tiny modern yard but I’ve planted one from Woodlanders at my house and can’t wait for it to flower and get caterpillars! 

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.