Weeping Peashrub Info: Growing Walker’s Weeping Peashrub Plants

By: Liz Baessler

Walker’s weeping peashrub is an attractive and extremely cold hardy shrub grown both for its toughness and unmistakable shape. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow a weeping caragana shrub.

Weeping Peashrub Info

Walker’s weeping peashrub (Caragana arborescens ‘Walker’) is a cultivar that has to be grafted into a particular shape. A regular Caragana arborescens (also called a Siberian peashrub) has a traditional upright growth pattern. In order to achieve Walker’s distinctive weeping structure, stems are grafted at right angles from the top of a single upright trunk.

The result is a unique and remarkably uniform weeping shape as the stems grow out from the trunk and then straight down to the ground. The plant’s leaves are very thin, delicate, and feathery, making for a beautiful, wispy veil effect in the summer.

Walker’s weeping peashrubs tend to reach 5 to 6 feet (1.5-1.8 m.) in height, with a spread of 3 to 4 feet (0.9-1.2 m.).

Walker’s Weeping Caragana Care

Growing Walker’s weeping peashrub plants is surprisingly easy. Despite the delicate appearance of the leaves and the dangling branches, the plant is native to Siberia and hardy in USDA zones 2 through 7 (that’s hardy down to -50 F. or -45 C.!). In the spring, it produces attractive yellow blossoms. In the autumn, it loses its feathery leaves, but the singular shape of the trunk and branches provides good winter interest.

It thrives in full sun to partial shade. Despite the shrub’s shape, it actually requires very little training or pruning (beyond the initial grafting). The stems should naturally start curving down, and they will grow more or less straight toward the ground. They tend to stop about halfway to the ground. This removes any concern of them dragging in the soil, and it leaves the single bottom trunk somewhat exposed to add to the allure of its unusual shape.

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How to Grow Weeping Katsura

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

The weeping katsura tree (otherwise known as Cercidiphyllum japonicum, or 'Pendula') has graceful branches that appear to "weep," and heart-shaped, blue-green leaves that transform into a vibrant yellow color in the fall.

Native to China and Japan, this attractive and flowing deciduous tree has a large spread and can grow to heights of up to 15 to 25 feet, making it a great choice for parks and golf courses--or anyone with a large, sprawling property to landscape.

The weeping katsura has long been cherished for its incomparable beauty--in fact, it's become woven into many Chinese and Japanese legends that have been passed down for ages. The American version was discovered on US soil by a Kentucky plantsman at an Indiana nursery around 1960 and it became known as the ‘Amazing Grace’ Weeping Katsura Tree.

The tree will initially take on a pyramidal form before rounding out. It's pendulous branches fan out before sweeping the ground. Weeping Katsura's gorgeous foliage will emerge as bronze or purple-red before turning blue-green and fading to gold or apricot in the fall. In March or April, tiny red flowers will emerge, although they are not particularly ornamentally interesting.

The weeping katsura will bring character to your landscape all year long. It's a great choice for gardens due to its compact shape and ability to provide light shade. It can be planted as a specimen or in a group. Best of all, its leaves will emit a subtle sweet smell as they fall--almost like cotton candy or caramel.

Botanical Name Cercidiphyllum japonicum
Common Name Weeping Katsura
Plant Type Deciduous tree
Mature Size 15-30 feet
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Rich, well-drained, acidic soil
Soil pH 5.5-7.5
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color Red
Hardiness Zones 4-8
Native Area Japan and China
The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

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The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

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The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

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The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Why Grow a Siberian Pea Tree?

So why exactly is a Siberian pea tree so useful in sustainable gardening and land management? Why should you consider growing it where you live? What more does it have to offer?

Here are just some of the reasons to consider:

1. For Its Edible Seeds

One of the most interesting things about a pea tree is that it has the potential to be more than just a novelty. It may even have the potential to be used as a staple edible crop.

The tree flowers in May/June and by September, the seeds are ripe. Seeds are produced in pods and there are around 4-6 in each one.

The seeds have a mild, pea-like flavor. Eating them raw in any quantity is not recommended. But you can cook and eat the somewhat bland lentil-like seeds in spicy or other flavorsome dishes.

Containing up to 36% protein, these have potential as a healthy and more sustainable alternative to meats, or imported pulses. These seeds have the potential to be an excellent food source. In addition to being eaten as a pulse, the seeds also yield an edible oil.

As well as eating the seeds, you can also cook and eat the young seed pots as a vegetable. The flowers can be eaten raw in moderation in salads and so on. They too have a mild pea-like flavor.

2. As Fodder For Livestock

The pea tree I have planted is in an area foraged by chickens, so in addition to eating some ourselves, we also intend to let some fall for the flock.

Chickens particularly enjoy the pods and seeds of this plant, but it can also be used as a fodder crop for cattle, sheep, goats and other livestock.

3. For Its Nitrogen Fixing Properties, As A Companion Plant

One of the other great things about pea trees or pea shrubs is that they are nitrogen fixers. Like other legumes, they have formed a beneficial symbiosis with bacteria in their root nodules, and can fix atmospheric nitrogen from the air.

Some of the nitrogen is used by the plants, but some enters the surrounding soil where it can potentially be taken up by other plants grown nearby.

Since this plant can thrive even in marginal areas with relatively poor soils, it can be a great pioneer plant – to come in and improve conditions so that other plants can thrive.

Interestingly, this is a nitrogen fixer that can be particularly beneficial in colder climates. Many nitrogen fixers will only perform this function when the soil is warmer, in summer. Nitrogen fixation will often cease when temperatures fall.

But pea trees can fix nitrogen at colder temperatures than most other nitrogen fixers – still performing this function even at around 37.5-41 degrees F..

(This is one of the main reasons that I chose this plant for my cool climate forest garden.)

The Siberian pea tree in my forest garden is part of a wider guild of plants. As a nitrogen fixer, its primary role within this guild is to feed this essential plant nutrient into the system as it grows. Adding nitrogen to the surrounding area that can be taken up by nearby plants.

4. To Improve and Feed Garden Soil

In addition to simply allowing a leguminous plant like a pea tree to fix nitrogen where it stands, you can also use one to improve and feed garden soil in other areas of your garden.

Leaves and cuttings from a Siberian pea tree can be gathered up and added to your composting system, layered as mulch, or simply chopped and dropped to add nutrients to the soil, and to protect it.

5. For Soil Erosion Control

A pea tree won’t just improve soil by adding nutrients. It can also help to create a healthy and resilient soil ecosystem with its extensive root system.

These trees or shrubs can be used to stabilize sloping sites, and to prevent soil erosion and nutrient leaching.

6. To Attract Beneficial Wildlife

Pea trees are also great because they attract beneficial wildlife to your garden. The flowers attract bees and other pollinators in the spring/ early summer.

These trees or shrubs are also said to attract beneficial predatory insects such as lacewings and parasitic wasps that can help keep pest numbers of aphids etc. in check. And hummingbirds also like the nectar.

7. As a Wind Break or As Part of a Shelter Belt

Siberian pea trees can be very useful in a challenging locale, such as a windy site. They can effectively be used as part of a wind break hedgerow, living fence, or shelter belt in a range of different locations and soil conditions.

8. For Its Oil (For Use in Soap Making, Paints Etc.)

The oil derived from the seeds of pea trees cannot only be used for edible applications. It can also potentially be used in soap making, paint making, or the making of natural lubricants.

9. For Bark Fibre

The bark of these trees or shrubs also yields a useful plant fibre. This can be used to make cordage, for paper making, or in a number of other ways to boost self-reliance on your homestead.

10. To Make a Natural Blue Dye

The leaves of the Siberian pea tree also yield a beautiful azure dye. You can use this on natural fabrics as an alternative to damaging synthetic options.

11. As a Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine

The pea tree is also traditionally used in herbal medicine. It is said to be beneficial for treatment of breast cancer. And also in the treatment of dysmenorrhoea and other menstrual problems by increasing/improving blood flow to the pelvic region of the body.

12. For its Ornamental Value

A Siberian pea tree will grow in a huge range of settings. So you can use it ornamentally in many widely different gardens.

The Siberian pea tree is so useful that it might be easy to overlook the fact that it is also a very visually attractive plant.

This plant has attractive and rather unusual light green leaves that make it stand out amid other tree and plant species. The bright yellow flowers that bloom in May/June are also very appealing. Over summer, the interest continues with the long seed pods dangling from the tree or shrub.

If you are growing a Siberian pea tree primarily for its ornamental value then there are a few different forms you can consider. Most Siberian pea trees or pea shrubs are standards with a multi-stemmed habit. But there are varietals which offer particular shapes and forms.

‘Nana’ is a very compact dwarf form, for example, which grows slowly. There are also weeping forms, whose branches are more pendulous and bend back down more towards the ground. Which cultivar you select will determine whether your plant is more tree or shrub in form and habit.

A weeping Siberian pea tree

Caragana arborescens 'Walker'

Walker Weeping Peashrub flowers

Walker Weeping Peashrub flowers

Other Names: Siberian Peashrub, Caragana

A true garden specimen shrub with almost ferny finely cut foliage and a highly pronounced weeping habit and pretty golden flowers in spring usually grafted on a standard to a certain height supremely hardy

Walker Weeping Peashrub has yellow pea-like flowers hanging below the branches in mid spring. It has light green foliage throughout the season. The deeply cut ferny pinnately compound leaves turn yellow in fall. The fruit is not ornamentally significant. The smooth olive green bark adds an interesting dimension to the landscape.

Walker Weeping Peashrub is an open deciduous shrub with a strong central leader and a rounded form and gracefully weeping branches. It lends an extremely fine and delicate texture to the landscape composition which can make it a great accent feature on this basis alone.

This shrub will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and usually looks its best without pruning, although it will tolerate pruning. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration

  • Suckering
  • Spiny

Walker Weeping Peashrub is recommended for the following landscape applications

  • Accent
  • General Garden Use

Walker Weeping Peashrub will grow to be about 5 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 5 feet. It tends to be a little leggy, with a typical clearance of 1 foot from the ground, and is suitable for planting under power lines. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 30 years.

This shrub does best in full sun to partial shade. It prefers dry to average moisture levels with very well-drained soil, and will often die in standing water. It is considered to be drought-tolerant, and thus makes an ideal choice for xeriscaping or the moisture-conserving landscape. It is not particular as to soil type or pH, and is able to handle environmental salt. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America.

Watch the video: How to grow Snow Fountains Weeping Cherry - Weeping White Flowering Cherry

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