Fringe Tree or Old Man’s Beard (Chionanthus Virginicus) is hardy from USDA hardiness zones 3A to 9B. Fringe tree is a native plant through many states, as well as Florida in North and Central Florida. It can reach up to 20 feet with a spread up to 15 feet, but is slow growing. This is a truly lovely tree in the landscape when in flower and seems surprizing when in bloom with the flowers blooming before the leaves in the spring.. Fringe tree is covered with very white strap-like “fringey” flowers which lends itself to the name “Old Man’s Beard.”. Fringe tree provides a better floral display in the sun. The fruit found on the female plant is attractive to birds.
The dramatic, somewhat fragrant blooms of Fringe Tree are followed by green leaves wjhich can range from 2-8 inches. They look green for a good period of time, but can sometimes become a bit unattractive and curly as leaves can be subject to leaf spots which typically do not require treatment. Fringe Tree prefers part shade, but can tolertge full shade to full sun. It can have a few pests like scale or mites, has wind resistance and can tolerate wet soils. It prefers acidic to slightly alkaline soils.
For more information, visit UF/IFAS Extension publication “Chionanthus virginicus: Fringetree” by Ed Gilman, et al, at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/ST/ST16100.pdf, or the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Guide to Plant Selection and Landscape Design at https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/media/fflifasufledu/docs/FYN_Plant_Selection_Guide_2015.pdf.
Visit the UF/IFAS Extension Demonstration Garden Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm, except for national holidays, at 7620 SR 471, Bushnell, FL 33513. When you enter the Sumter County Fairgounds, drive to the back and park to enter the garden.