Planting a Black Gum Tree: A Guide

Planting a Black Gum Tree

If you are looking for a beautiful and unique tree to plant in your yard, look no further than the black gum tree!

This medium-sized deciduous plant grows slowly, but it is well worth the wait. The bark of the black gum tree resembles alligator skin, and the leaves are irregular in shape.

The autumn color is one of the most noticeable aspects of this tree. In the autumn, the leaves change color from glossy green to vibrant shades of orange, red, and yellow.

The small, unassuming spring flowers develop into tiny deep blue sour fruits that attract birds and other animals.

Common Names Black gum tree, tupelo, black tupelo, sour gum tree, pepperidge
Botanical Name Nyssa sylvatica
Family Nyssaceae
Plant Type Tree
Mature Size 30-50 ft. tall, 20-30 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Moist, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic
Hardiness Zones 3-9 (USDA)
Native Area North America

Tips for Keeping Your Plants Healthy:

When you plant your black gum tree, make sure to do so in an area that gets plenty of sunlight. This tree prefers full sun but can also tolerate partial shade.

The soil should be well-drained and rich in organic matter. Add compost or manure to the planting hole before placing the tree in it.

Water the tree regularly, especially during its first growing season. Once established, the black gum is relatively drought tolerant.

To keep your black gum healthy, prune it annually to remove any dead or diseased branches. You can also thin out the canopy to allow more light and air to reach the inner branches.

Lighting and Temperature

The black gum tree grows best in partial shade to full sun. It is tolerant of a wide range of temperatures, from -40 degrees Fahrenheit to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, it should be protected from strong winds, as this can damage the leaves and branches.


Soil that is too wet or too dry can damage the roots, so make sure to plant the tree in an area with well-drained soil. The black gum tree prefers full sun but can also grow in partial shade.

To plant the tree, dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball and just as deep.


Fertilizer should be applied to the hole before planting. The hole should be twice as wide as the root ball and just deep enough so that the tree is at the same level it was in the container.

After backfilling and lightly tamping down the soil, give the tree a deep watering.


Pruning should be done in the late winter while the tree is still dormant. You will want to prune any dead or diseased branches first, as well as any branches that are crossing or rubbing against each other.

Once you have done this, you can shape the tree by pruning any long or wayward branches.


Watering is essential for the first two years after planting. The tree should be watered deeply and regularly, especially during periods of drought. Once established, the black gum is relatively drought-tolerant.


Size and shape are important considerations when planting a black gum tree.

The hole should be twice the width of the root ball and just deep enough so that the tree is at the same level it was in the container.


The flowers are small and unassuming, but they develop into the tiny deep blue sour fruits that attract birds and other animals.

The black gum tree is dioecious, meaning that there are male trees and female trees. Only the female trees produce the fruit.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

The black gum tree, also known as the tupelo tree, is a native species of North America. The tree is known for its dark green leaves, which turn a deep red or purple in the fall.

The black gum tree is a popular choice for landscaping due to its attractive appearance and its generally low maintenance needs.

The tree is not known to have major insect or disease problems, but leaf spots, cankers, leaf miners, and scale can occasionally be found on the leaves.

Damaged or discolored leaves, as well as unusual-looking branches and bark, are signs that the tree may be suffering from an infestation or disease.

By regularly examining the leaves and branches of the black gum tree, homeowners can help to ensure that their trees stay healthy and beautiful for many years to come.

Propagating Black Gum Tree

Propagating black gum trees from cuttings can be difficult, and propagating it from seeds is even more so.

The results are also often unpredictable, which means you may not end up with the same appealing autumn color as your parent’s tree.

Furthermore, the propagation of cultivars with trademarks is prohibited. If you intend to plant the black gum tree, it is best to buy it from a reputable nursery.

This way, you can be sure that you’re getting the tree you want, and that it will be healthy and unlikely to succumb to disease or pests.

Black gum trees are known for their beautiful autumn color, so if you’re looking for a breathtaking addition to your garden, this may be the tree for you.

Just be aware that propagation can be tricky, and it’s best to leave it to the professionals.

Black Gum Tree Varieties

The black gum tree, also known as the sour gum or tupelo tree, is a species of deciduous tree that is native to the eastern United States.

There are several cultivars of black gum trees, each with its own distinctive features.

The Zydeco Twist variety is characterized by its twisting branches, which are especially noticeable during the winter months when the trees are barren.

The Autumn Cascades weeping variety is well-known for its eye-catching red, orange, and yellow autumn foliage. During the growing season, the leaves of this tree will turn red.

The Firestarter cultivar is a trademarked variety with early, vibrant fall colours; however, this type of plant does not produce fruit.

The Tupelo Tower has a slightly columnar growth pattern and turns scarlet, amber, and violet in the autumn.

Black gum trees are easy to care for and make an excellent addition to any landscape.

Where should I plant a black gum tree?

The black gum tree is a beautiful addition to any landscape. With its glossy leaves and dark bark, it adds both visual interest and seasonal color.

But where should you plant it? Black gum thrives in areas of acidic, medium-to-wet well-drained soils, and full sun to partial shade.

The ability of the tree to thrive in soils that are wet makes it an perfect for low spots in the landscape. The tree has a bit of drought tolerance and may naturally be found in dry areas.

So whether you’re looking for a splash of color in your garden or trying to add some privacy to your yard, the black gum tree is a great choice. Just be sure to give it the space and conditions it needs to thrive.

How wide does a black gum tree get?

The black gum tree, also known as the tupelo tree, grows to a height of 20-30 feet. The tree’s trunk is typically straight and its branches are evenly spaced.

The tree’s leaves are dark green in color and have a waxy texture. The black gum tree produces small, purple-black fruits that are popular with birds.

The tree’s bark is dark brown or black in color and is smooth to the touch. The black gum tree is found in the eastern United States, from Maine to Florida.

The tree grows best in moist areas, such as near swamps or wetlands.

How do you trim a black gum tree?

The black gum tree is a low-maintenance tree that doesn’t require any pruning other than trimming branches to keep the desired shape and eliminating all parts that are damaged or dying.

If you notice any lower branches hanging down, you can trim them off if you want to allow for easier walking around the tree.

Simply use a sharp pair of pruning shears or a saw to make clean cuts at the desired spot.

Remember to also clean up any fallen leaves or branches to avoid attracting pests. With just a bit of basic care, your black gum tree will thrive for years to come.

Is black gum a messy tree?

When it comes to trees, there are a few things that can make them messy: shedding leaves, dropping fruit, losing small branches during windy weather, and producing blossoms that fall to the ground.

Black gum trees don’t really have any of these issues. Their leaves stay on the tree until they’re ready to fall off, and their fruit is eaten by birds before it has a chance to hit the ground.

They also don’t seem to lose small branches during windy weather, and their flowers are relatively inconspicuous.

So if you’re looking for a tidy tree, black gum is a good option!

How big does a black tupelo get?

The black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) is a stately tree that can add interest and value to any landscape. Given the right conditions, this deciduous tree can reach a height of 30-50 feet and a spread of 20-30 feet.

Black tupelo is relatively fast growing, adding 2-3 feet per year under ideal conditions. It prefers full sun to partial shade and moist, well-drained soil, but it is also tolerant of a wide range of soils and site conditions.

This adaptability makes black tupelo a good choice for areas that are difficult to landscape. In addition to its impressive size, black tupelo has other attractive features.

The glossy green leaves turn shades of yellow, orange, and red in the fall, providing brilliant color for several weeks. The smooth, dark bark is also notable, and it provides winter interest when the leaves have fallen.

Black tupelo is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a beautiful and easy-to-care-for tree.

How fast does black gum tree grow?

The black gum tree, also known as the sour gum tree, is a native to the eastern United States. It is a popular landscaping tree because of its long-lasting fall foliage and its attractive, fluted trunk.

Black gum trees grow best in moist, well-drained soils, but they are tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions.

They typically reach a height of 30 to 50 feet and a width of 20 to 30 feet at maturity.

Black gum trees grow relatively slowly, with a growth rate of about one to two feet per year. However, they can live for hundreds of years if they are given the proper care.

When planting a black gum tree, it is important to choose a location that will allow for its full mature size. This is because black gum trees have shallow roots and do not tolerate transplanting well.

With proper care, a black gum tree can provide years of enjoyment in any landscape.

What are black gum trees used for?

The black gum tree, also known as the tupelo tree, is native to the eastern United States. It is a popular choice for veneer and lumber due to its straight grain and dark color.

The wood is also rot resistant, making it ideal for outdoor use. Black gum trees are also used to produce honey. The flowers of the tree produce a nectar that is beloved by bees.

This nectar results in a light, mild-tasting honey that is highly sought after by honey connoisseurs.

In addition to its use in furniture and honey production, the black gum tree is also an important food source for wildlife.

Deer, bears, and birds all enjoy munching on the tree’s leaves and fruits. As a result, the black gum tree plays an important role in the ecology of the eastern United States.

How do you take care of a black gum tree?

A black gum tree is a stunning addition to any landscape, with its glossy leaves and striking bark.

However, like all trees, it requires some care and attention to keep it looking its best. Here are some tips for taking care of a black gum tree:

Feed the tree during the fall by slow-release fertilizer that is granular. This will help the tree to recover from the summer heat and prepare for the winter months.

Water the soil two times every week while it is still young. Once the tree is established, it will be able to tolerate drought conditions better. However, during its first few years, it is important to keep the soil moist so that the roots can establish themselves well.

Rake up leaves with pests and trim diseased limbs when they emerge. This will help to prevent problems from spreading to other parts of the tree.

Pruning lower branches in winter, making it easier to walk underneath the tree. Black gum trees can grow quite tall, so pruning lower branches can make them more manageable.

Just be sure to prune them in late winter or early spring so that you don’t damage new growth.

What is the difference between a sweetgum tree and a black gum tree?

There are a few key ways to tell the difference between sweetgum and black gum trees.

For one, sweetgum leaves are usually more deeply lobed than black gum leaves, which tend to be more oval-shaped.

Sweetgum leaves also tend to be darker green in color, while black gum leaves are more of a blue-green. perhaps the most noticeable difference between these two types of trees is the fruit.

Sweetgum fruits are spiky balls that remain on the tree throughout the winter, while black gum fruits are small, dark berries that appear in clusters.

Knowing these distinctions can help you to identify these two types of trees next time you’re out for a walk in nature.

Jessica Miles

Jessica Miles is a writer for Botanique Boutique, a plant and gardening blog. She has always loved plants, flowers, and anything green. When she was younger, she used to watch her grandfather garden and would be in awe of the beautiful flowers he would grow. Now Jessica writes about all things related to plants and gardening - from beginner tips on how to start growing your own plants, to in-depth guides on caring for a specific type of flower or plant. She loves helping others learn about this fascinating hobby, and hopes that her writing will inspire people to get outside and enjoy nature!

Recent Posts