Savonnier (Koelreuteria Paniculata), The Lantern Tree

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The soap maker (Koelreuteria paniculata) is a small, hardy (-15° C), compact, spreading tree with rounded crown, 8-10 m high, native to the Far East where it grows in dry, wooded valleys. Its growth is not speculously fast.

Savonnier (Koelreuteria paniculata), the lantern tree

Its deciduous leaves oscillate between 35 and 45cm long, they are pinnate and consist of 7 to 15 oval, oblong and serrated leaflets. The foliage contributes to the elegance of the tree as well in spring with its red leaves, becoming green-gray in the summer and ending in autumn with a more yellow color.

Flowers not exceeding 1cm in diameter, yellow and very fragrant appear in July in pyramidal panicles light 20 to 30cm long. Capsules of 3 to 5cm high, red or pink, shaped lantern (hence its name), replace the flowers in September and October. The tree then reveals all its splendor, with this red or pink that will contrast with the yellow of the foliage.

  • Family: Sapindaceae
  • Type: ornamental tree
  • Origin: Korea, China
  • Color: yellow flowers
  • sowing: Yes
  • cutting: Yes
  • Planting: autumn
  • Flowering: July
  • Height: up to 10m high and 4m wide

Ideal soil and exposure for planting a soap dish in the garden

The soap maker likes rich, well-drained soil, not clay, and a very sunny exposure sheltered from the wind. The more the soap maker enjoys warmth, the more flowers he will have: he will be particularly blooming in the regions where the summer is hot...

Date of sowing, cutting and planting of soap

You can proceed to a potted sowing under a cold frame in October. You can then replant it when it has grown enough. Spontaneous seedlings are very common.

Root cuttings are expected in February: they give good results, generally.

The planting is done in the fall.

Board of maintenance and culture of the soap maker

The soap maker does not require any specific size except for the removal of dead or damaged branches during the winter.

Diseases, pests and parasites of the soap maker

There is nothing to report in terms of the diseases that could reach it.

Location and favorable association of the soap maker

It will be wonderful in isolation, especially in small gardens. In any case, choose the best sheltered place in your garden, because the flowers are very fragile and generally do not withstand the wind.

Savonnier or tree with lanterns for small gardens

There are only 3 species, including the soap maker (Koelreuteria paniculata) described above which comes in different varieties like Koelreuteria paniculata 'Coral Sun', with coral pink leaves, Koelreuteria paniculata 'Fastigiata', with a narrow column silhouette, Koelreuteria 'September', at the late bloom in late summer...

The other two species are less hardy: Koelreuteria bipinnata with yellow flowers stained with red in summer, Koelreuteria integrifolia, with red leaves becoming green then yellow flowers in summer.

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Video: l'arbre aux lanternes, le savonnier.

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