Laburnum Qa


Article by David Marks
Our main Laburnum article can be found here. But sometimes our readers ask specific questions which are not covered in the main article. This page lists their comments, questions and answers.



Date: 01 April 2020 From: Mary W
QUESTION: My laburnum tree is close to my vegetable bed. Will the leaves and seeds that fall in it cause any problems with growing food crops?

ANSWER: I don’t definitively provide any information on possibly poisonous plants in the garden. I simply don’t have an in depth knowledge of the subject.

However, I can say what i would do in my garden in the situation you describe. I wouldn’t worry at all about laburnum seeds or leaves affecting any other crops. I would make a careful check and shake of any nearby crops when I harvest them, to ensure no leaves or seeds had fallen into the growing head.


Date: 03 January 2019 From: J Lane
QUESTION: Can I compost laburnum leaves if the compost is subsequently to be used on the vegetable plot?

ANSWER: I really don’t have any experience in that area and I can find nothing on the internet. If it was me I wouldn’t use them as compost but I equally of the persuasion that once composted they would be safe. You need to make your own judgement.


Date: 08 July 2018 From: Not Given
QUESTION: We just bought a 3` high Golden Chain Tree and after reading about it being poison I am scared to plant it near my chicken or hen run. Will the flowers or seed poison my hens… It will be hanging over my hens and will fall in the run

ANSWER: All parts of a laburnum tree are poisonous to animals and humans, that’s the official and true answer.

Having said that, in my opinion, the risk is very overstated. Try and find a record on the internet of a chicken being poisoned by a laburnum tree and I doubt you will find it, I couldn’t. Where food is concerned chickens aren’t stupid and I doubt they would eat anything poisonous. But that’s just my opinion.


Date: 23 February 2018 From: Olivia
QUESTION: We would like to grow a laburnum but have quite shallow soil with clay below. Are they deep rooted?

ANSWER: On two counts I think the tree will be fine. Firstly they are not known for deep roots. Secondly, they will do well in a clay soil. It’s dense thick clay in the area I live in and several laburnum trees flourish.


Date: 20 June 2017 From: Sue
QUESTION: I have 2 laburnum which were in the garden when we bought 30 years ago. From the attached photo I suspect they are diseased. Any suggestions please? Thank you.

ANSWER: Laburnums are relatively short lived trees and it’s not surprising to hear that your tree has significant problems. You say it was in your garden from 30 years ago, they normally last 30 to 40 years.


Date: 06 April 2017 From: Paul
QUESTION: We only have a relatively small front garden so I don’t really want the tree to grow to 7metres high, I have been told by a local gardener that if I leave the tree in the pot and plant it in the ground it will restrict the growth of the tree. So the questions I am asking are – is this common practice – will it restrict the height/spread of the tree – will it increase the possibility of waterlogging the roots.

ANSWER: The theory is correct but I’ve never grown a laburnum in a container before so I really can’t advise. The only thing I can confirm is that bonsai laburnum trees can be grown successfully so growing in a Larger container should also work and the size will be restricted. Clearly the container will need a drainage hole in the bottom so any water-logging will be the same risk as the surrounding ground.


Date: 04 April 2017 From: Jem C
QUESTION: Just bought a potted 8ft high Laburnum tree with very thin but tall branches from base. On planting all compost fell off root which appears to be a chunk of root cut off from a from a larger parent root with just a few wispy new roots. Is this a recognised form of propagation?

ANSWER: You have probably bought a bare-root tree which has recently been potted into multi-purpose compost. The roots have not had time to grow into the compost.

Whoever sold it to you, in all fairness, should have told you that. Bare-rooted laburnums are sold by many very reputable plant nurseries but they normally describe them as bare-rooted.


Date: 14 March 2017 From: R Smith
QUESTION: My laburnum tree flowered last spring but then lost all it’s leaves during mid-summer. So far this spring I have not noticed any sign of new growth and I am wondering whether the tree has died or does new growth only appear later in spring?

ANSWER: Just went out and checked my neighbour’s laburnum (he has two) for you and there are no signs of life yet. So give your tree another few weeks before coming to any conclusions.


Date: 11 March 2017 From: Emmandee
QUESTION: The laburnum we planted in our lawn 20 years ago is in good health and flowers annually. Is it true that laburnum roots poison the soil around them? We’d like to plant a pear tree, but we’re unsure how far away from the laburnum it should go.

ANSWER: As far as I am aware laburnums do not poison the soil. So feel free to plant your per tree where it suits you.


Date: 24 February 2017 From: Stuart M
QUESTION: I have a 50+ year old Laburnum tree, about 35ft high and 2ft dia. at the base. It is 11ft from both mine and my neighbours properties. Our soil is very light and sandy. Is it likely to cause problems with either property?

ANSWER: Laburnums don’t have particularly intrusive roots, so in my opinion there should be no problems. They also are not particularly long-lived trees so if there have been no problems after 50 years, I doubt the roots will grow any further.


Date: 2 November 2016 From: Not Given
QUESTION: I still have not planted my laburnum tree which remains in its original small garden centre pot. Can I wait until spring to plant it in the garden? Will it survive the winter in its original pot?

ANSWER: Plants in pots are at risk of frost damage over winter, much more so compared to those growing in the ground. They are also at risk of lack or excessive water at any time of the year.

Position the pot so that it is protected from the worst of the weather, by the wall of a heated house is a good idea. Keep an eye on water levels every so often, it all depends on where you live and how much it rains. You may want to pot it up into a larger pot now to give it the best chance of success.


Date: 25 October 2016 From: Mike
QUESTION: I have a 40 year old Laburnum which has grown very big. Would it benefit from a good pruning or will it damage the tree? There is a bit of deadwood in the tree.

ANSWER: You can prune Laburnum trees although this is rarely done because they reach a maximum of 7m high. Laburnums trained to an arch shape are pruned annually so I see no harm. I would prune out the dead wood because that contributes nothing to the look of the tree and may attract diseases.

I would then prune the tree to the required height over the next two years and then prune annually to keep it within bounds.


Date: 5 September 2016 From: Colette
QUESTION: Should I be pruning my Laburnum?

ANSWER: There is no need to prune a laburnum tree, they grow well of their own accord. I have seen some people trimming branches that are within reach of children to prevent them picking the seeds but that is for a specific reason. Laburnum grown into an arch shape would also require specific pruning techniques which are beyond the scope of this article.


Date: 24 August 2016 From: Victoria
QUESTION: There was a very old Laburnum growing in the pavement outside our previous house, which the council cut down. The year it was taken down we noticed it had self-seeded in a pot in our garden. We have since moved house, and still have it growing in a large pot. It is now 7 years old and about 6 or 7 ft tall including the container. Our garden isn’t big enough for us to plant it in the ground, can we continue to grow it in a pot indefinitely? It seems fine at the moment, and flowers every year, but is there anything in particular we should be doing to keep it happy? I’m ridiculously fond of it!

ANSWER: Yes Laburnum will grow quite happily in large containers. The key point is that although they need moisture at the roots they keel over and die if they are water-logged. Ensure that the container has drain holes at the bottom and some stones or similar. Putting the pot on little stands which garden centres sell also helps ensure good drainage.


Date: 01 August 2016 From: E Wills
QUESTION: For the last 2 years my Laburnum Vossi has had very small flowers about 4 inches long and the leaves are very pale green and go over early also have found snails up the tree and also slugs, what can I do to bring it back to it’s usual glory, it is now about 10 years old.

ANSWER: The main disease problem with Laburnum trees is root rot. The tree will begin to look sickly and eventually die. The cause is generally a waterlogged soil. There’s nothing which can be done if this is the problem.

However, pale leaves and lack of flowers can also be caused by too little or too much feeding. If the tree hasn’t been fed for a year or more, scatter three or four handfuls of blood, fish and bone fertiliser around the surrounding soil and water it in – once in autumn and once in spring.

If the tree has been fed regularly, stop feeding for a year.


Date: 24 June 2016 From: Jenny
QUESTION: I may have to grow my Laburnums as Bonsai as I live in Australia, however always game to try!! (We do get frost!) How soon will a laburnum seedling flower under optimal conditions?

ANSWER: I don’t know from personal experience. But from what I have read, a two year old tree bought from a garden centre should flower after two more years. So, expect a seedling to be in flower after four to five years.


Date: 21 June 2016 From: Mrs V A Cooksley
QUESTION: This year the chains on my Laburnum are minute and the leaves are taking a long time to develop. Why is this? I planted it 12 years ago and once it began to flower it did very well. In autumn 2013 the wind nearly blew it out of the ground and I had to pull it back into position. It did very well the following year but only had two or three chains last year. This year it looks really odd with these minute chains and underdeveloped leaves. I live in the north east of Scotland but on the whole these trees seem to thrive here. Any suggestions?

ANSWER: I think your laburnum flowered well in 2014 as a natural reaction to the damage in the previous year. Plants and trees produce flowers / seeds in abundance if they feel threatened. It is their way of ensuring the survival of offspring.

But their limited resources only allow for this once and you are now seeing the results of the damage. Without seeing the tree it’s impossible to know if it will recover or not. I do hope it does.


Date: 16 June 2016 From: J. Smith
QUESTION: When your laburnum has finished flowering can you cut the dead flowers off.

ANSWER: Yes you can. It won’t affect the tree at all. Some people do this because they are concerned that the seeds are poisonous.