How to Grow Sycamore Tree & Caring Guide

Beautiful shade trees, such as the sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), can be found in broad, open spaces.

The tree’s bark has a camouflage pattern of gray-brown outer bark that peels off in areas to reveal the light grey or white wood underneath, making it the tree’s most remarkable feature. Solid, light grey trunks are seen on older trees.

Buttonwood and buttonball trees are other common names for sycamores. One-inch (2.5 cm.) balls dangle all winter and fall in spring, causing the dangling balls.

In order to keep the balls separate, they are attached to twigs that measure between 3 and 6 inches long (8 and 15 centimeters).

Facts about the Sycamore Tree

As the tallest deciduous trees in the east, sycamore trees are capable of reaching heights of 75 to 100 feet (23-30 meters) with a similar spread.

The diameter of the trunk can reach up to 10 feet (3 meters).

The heartwood of sycamores is ravaged by a fungus as the tree ages, limiting its usefulness. Only weak and hollow trees are left after being infected by fungus.

Hollow sycamore trees are a valuable resource for wildlife, who use them to store food, build nests, and find refuge.

Because of their massive size, sycamore trees aren’t ideal for most backyards, but they’re perfect for parks, stream banks, and other open spaces.

Their roots are invasive and harm sidewalks, thus they are no longer suitable for use as street trees.

However, you may still come with them to older suburban areas. Find out how to plant a sycamore tree by reading on.

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Growing Sycamore Trees

A deep, rich, moist yet well-drained soil is ideal for sycamore trees, which may thrive in virtually any type of soil.

There are two times of the year when you should plant trees with balled and Burlapped roots: in the spring or the fall.

Easy Sycamore tree maintenance is available. Keep fertilizing the tree every other year if it isn’t developing quickly or if the leaves are pale.

To prevent the soil from drying out, give young trees plenty of water. The tree is drought-tolerant beyond the first few years.

After a month or so of no rain, it’s time to give the earth a good soak.

Problems with Sycamore Trees

This tree is related to numerous diseases. Leaves, seed balls, twigs, and bark strips are all strewn across the ground as they wilt.

Skin irritation and respiratory distress can result from inhalation of the seed balls’ tiny hairs.

When removing seeds from a seed ball, use a mask or respirator and gloves to protect your hands.

When the leaves and stems are fresh, they are covered in hair. They can irritate the eyes, throat, and skin when they are shed in spring.

Water and sewer lines are frequently damaged by sycamore’s spreading roots.

Several insect infestations and fungal diseases can affect plants.

Although these conditions are rarely fatal to the tree, they leave it looking unkempt at the end of the season.


Sycamore limbs should only be pruned if they have been broken. Remove the damaged limbs to the collar.

Whenever you notice a branch that appears to be dead or diseased, you should remove it.

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When a branch grows in an unusually upright direction, forming a tight crotch with the trunk, you may need to perform some corrective pruning.

Stability is compromised by an angle of this kind. This kind of pruning should be left to the experts.

The good news is that American sycamore tends to grow with its limbs nicely horizontal.

Propagating Sycamore Trees

The only way to propagate a cultivar of sycamore is to take early summer cuttings, which can only be done if the plant was grown from seed or from (softwood) cuttings.

Cuttings can be used to propagate a sycamore cultivar.

  • Make your cut with a good knife. a branch that has just sprouted (it should have a pair of buds on the bottom and two pairs of leaves). Cut a 6- to 8-inch-long shoot.
  • Fill a planting container halfway with potting soil before you begin planting. Poke a hole in this soil with a pencil. Remove any leaves that have sprouted from the branch’s base (but keep the buds). Spritz the cutting with the rooting hormone. To use, simply insert it into the provided opening. Soak the potting soil well. The cutting should be kept in a warm, dry place with some shade and filtered light.
  • Make sure the potting soil is moist until the cutting roots have emerged in the potting medium. For this, you’ll need a plastic “tent.” Plant the container with a small stake and cover it with a clear plastic bag. Removing the plastic will allow you to regularly mist the potting soil.
  • Remove the plastic tent when the cutting has roots about an inch long. The soil should be kept at a constant moisture level. After the danger of frost has passed, plant the rooted cutting in your garden the following spring.
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How to Grow Sycamore Tree From Seed

If you don’t have a cultivar of sycamore, you can grow it from seed, which is found in the pods of the tree.

Nature will take care of stratification for you if you wait until the pods drop in the spring. To get at the seed, crack open the pod.

Remove the seed’s fuzz by scrubbing it. A 24-hour soak is recommended. Moisten seed-starting medium in a planting container.

The seed should be sown and covered with a quarter-inch of the seed-starting medium.

Keep the medium at a constant, even level of moisture. In 15 days, the seed will germinate. After the risk of frost has passed, begin planting outside.


A hardy tree, the sycamore is native to the US. Overwintering requires no additional attention. In addition, it’s a beautiful sight in the winter.

The bark in the upper canopy of the tree is white, and the branches have a geometric shape before the leaf drops.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Sycamore is a headache in and of itself, but that’s not all it does. It’s vulnerable to insect and disease infestations.

Infestation of aphids on American sycamore is one of a number of threats to other plants.

If you’ve used chemicals to kill off aphid predators, your landscape will be especially vulnerable to their invasion.

To get rid of aphids, use Neem oil, an organic insecticide.

Anthracnose can attack American sycamore. Because of the higher humidity, plants in the Southeast are more susceptible to fungal diseases.

In order to prevent anthracnose from spreading, grow the cultivar Platanus Bloodgood ‘Bloodgood’.

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