Ptelea trifoliata, Hoptree, Wafer Ash
Butterfly Larval Host Plant for the Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) butterflies.
Hoptree is a deciduous small rounded headed tree or large shrub. Flowers are small yellow green in a dense cluster form: the foliage is aromatic when leaves are crushed, yellow fall color. It forms a spreading, usually multi-stemmed plant that seldom exceeds 20 feet in height. When in bloom it's as if you are walking through an orange grove. The common name refers to the fact the fruit were once used in making beer as a substitute for hops.
Hardiness Zone 4-9
Full Sun-Partial Shade
Mature Growth: 15-20 feet tall
Soil: Average and well drained garden soil is key so there's not root rot.
How We Grow Our Seedlings: In early January our seedlings are planted into raised beds underneath our large pine trees where they will receive filtered sunlight, the top tips are pruned out and the young trees are staked with bamboo. Our planting soil is amended with pine bark, peat moss and Douglas Pride compost to produce a soil that drains very well. They’ll grow in this raised bed for a year then the following Jan/Feb they'll be dug and sold as bare root seedlings while still dormant or potted up into containers depending on the root system and height of each tree. Over the years we have done several trials and tried different techniques in growing our young seedlings and discovered that by growing them in raised beds or Root Maker Raised Beds the seedlings triple in size the first year with great success.
How to Grow Hop as a Large Shrub: If you are wanting loads of Giant Swallowtail caterpillars then you need lot’s of foliage for them to feed on. Here’s what we are doing and suggest you give it a try to increase foliage and branching. To grow as a shrub cut the top tip out at a 45 degree angle just above a leaf node at your desired height between 3 to 5 feet tall. By pruning out the top tip you will force the lower leaf nodes to start branching out below the pruned cut.
The soil must have excellent drainage so there’s no root rot during the wet season. If your soil doesn’t drain well then amended with pine bark, sand, compost and/or build up your planting area as a raised bed. Staking your tree for the first year then removing the stake the following year will help support the plant and result in a straighter, stronger trunk. Hoptrees will grow in full sun but we have noticed that our trees are growing healthier and stronger in filter shade as a understory tree beneath our older pine trees. If you are growing your tree/trees in a container good drainage is a must and allowing the container to become somewhat dry before watering will insure that the roots do not become too wet. Use a well balanced or slow release fertilizer and remember less is more, you can easily burn up a plant when applying too much fertilizer. For the first year we do apply a root stimulator to help build a healthy root system as this is key to long term support for the tree.
Plant Height & Container Sizes when available:
14-18" tall 1 gallon, 20-26" tall 1 gallon, 28-32" tall 2 gallon, 36-48" tall 2 gallon
Special Order: for larger trees please contact us. Bare root Hop seedlings available in bundle of 10 during winter months while plants are dormant.
Giant Swallowtail Caterpillars