Twisty Baby Black LocustRobinia pseudoacacia 'Lace Lady'
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Robinia pseudoacacia 'Lace Lady'
Outdoor Growing zone
The Twisty Baby Black Locust is an amazing multi-stemmed small tree, growing to about 9 feet tall, and ultimately to perhaps 15 feet, with branches that naturally twist and turn, giving it an exotic and unique look. The lime-green spring leaves turn mid-green, and they also twist and flip, creating curling clusters of leaves. Older trees may produce hanging clusters of fragrant white flowers in spring. A very special tree for small gardens, modern looks, Asian influences and as a patio tree in a planter.
Despite its crazy looks, the Twisty Baby Black Locust is incredibly tough and easy to grow. It tolerates cold and heat, dry and poor soils, and drought, and pests and diseases are very rare. Plant in full sun, or with a small amount of shade It should be pruned in spring to encourage new growth, which has the maximum twist, and it can be grown for may years in a pot with drainage holes.
Unique small specimen trees can really bring small spaces – or indeed any sized garden – to life. The ‘go-to’ for attractive small trees are Japanese maples, but lovely as they are, the most ornamental ones can be the hardest to grow, and they are slow to develop real character. Some don’t grow well in colder zones either. For something much easier to grow, even in cold areas, yet with tons and tons of character, style and charm, you can’t go wrong with the Twisty Baby Black Locust. It’s a true original that will bring its striking good looks into any garden, and grow easily, without problems. Planted directly in the ground or in a pot, this is a knock-out plant that will stand out like nothing else can. It gives an exotic look suitable for Asian-style gardens, or for the most modern minimalist style – an easy-fit no matter what your garden looks like. Perfect in courtyards and urban gardens, it grows to about 9 feet tall, with elegant light gray stems twisting upwards, carrying clusters of twisted leaves to match. A big surprise are the beautiful hanging clusters of (untwisted) white flowers that can appear in early summer, adding striking beauty to this very special tree – “Come on baby, let’s do the twist!”
The Twisty Baby Black Locust is a unique form of a tree that is normally much larger. It becomes a multi-stem tree, reaching about 9 feet within 10 years, and almost as wide. It could in time reach 15 feet tall and wide, but it is easily pruned to keep it smaller if you need that. The stems grow in a twisting, angular fashion, unpredictable and always striking. They give this tree an ‘instant bonsai’ look, set off by the smooth, light gray bark. The bare winter profile is as striking and original as the tree in leaf, making it attractive in all seasons.
The new leaves on this deciduous tree are a wonderful lime-green when new, turning to a bright green as they mature. The leaves are 6 to 8 inches long, but divided into as many as 11 pairs of leaflets, each about 1-inch wide and long. When young the leaves appear normal, but as they mature some of the leaflets twist, showing the silvery-green undersides. No two leaves twist in the same way, giving this tree a truly unique crown of clustered leaves. It doesn’t develop a dense, leafy top, but stays open and stylish. Climate, heat, watering and other factors all play a part in exactly how twisted, and where, the stems and leaves will be – your tree will be truly an individual, and not even the same from year to year.
Older trees can produce varying quantities of flower clusters. These are untwisted, and are pure-white, fragrant ‘pea’ flowers gathered into clusters that can be 4 to 6 inches long. These may be followed by flattened seed pods that turn dark brown in winter.
This is the perfect striking specimen that will bring the smallest garden space to life. Plant it directly in the ground or in a planter, where it will grow happily for years and years. Plant it above smaller shrubs – it doesn’t throw much shade – or grow it in splendid isolation. Place it where it can be seen and admired – a true conversation piece for a garden party.
The TWISTY BABY Black Locust is as hardy and tough as its parent, so it grows well everywhere from zone 4 into zone 9.
Full sun will give you the best results with this tree, but it will also grow with a few hours of shade each day. Try for at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day, and more if possible. It will grow in many soils, including poor sandy soils and urban soils and under difficult conditions. Once established it is drought resistant too, and the twisted growth seems to be enhanced by difficult growing conditions.
This tree is rarely bothered by pests or diseases and very easy to grow. In zones 4 and 5 bring potted trees into a cold shed or garage during the coldest months of winter. In warmer zones it can stay outside. After a few years, remove potted trees from the pot in early spring, shake or knock off some soil and trim back the roots. Replant in fresh potting soil. Planters must have drainage holes. As the newest growth has the most twisted stems, it is valuable to prune lightly in early spring, removing any straighter stems, and opening up the character of the main branches. Don’t over-fertilizer or over-water your tree.
The black locust, Robinia pseudoacacia, grew wild originally only in the Appalachians and the Ozarks, but today it is found world-wide, even growing naturally in Europe. It was one of the first trees brought over from America, arriving in France in 1630. It is a tall, elegant tree up to 80 feet high, with an open crown and a trunk covered in deeply-ridged bark that is almost black. Its lumber was valuable for its resistance to rotting, even when wet. Grown in gardens around the world, it is often reproduced from seeds, and it was a batch of seedlings that Peter Cunningham was looking at in 1885 at his Rural View Nurseries in Kumeu, outside Auckland, New Zealand. He spotted one unique plant and grew it for further evaluation. Ten years later he was ready to present it to the world, and in 1996 he patented it under the name of ‘Lace Lady’ ((PP# 9,771, now expired). For global distribution, the French nursery of Meilland, le Cannet des Maures, southern France, trademarked the name TWISTY BABY® in the following year.
The remarkable and unique Twisty Baby Black Locust is both elegant and crazy – a difficult thing to be. If you love the unique and special, this is the tree for you, even more so because it is so easy to grow. Invite one to your home now, but don’t wait because our supply is strictly limited.