Albizia julibrissin Ombrella Tree or the Silk Tree is a showy deciduous tree with a broad spreading crown. The Silk Tree doesn’t get very large staying between 2-6 metres tall making it ideal for smaller gardens.
Albizia julibrissin Ombrella has beautiful light green leaves that resemble ferns or feathers in their shape and are between 20-45 cm in length. It has gorgeous flowers that look like sprays of pink silk threads and are sometimes white or yellowish in the centre. The Silk Tree blooms from July to September and often attracts bees and butterflies to the garden with its colourful, aromatic blossoms. Each night the Silk Tree’s flowers close and then re-open the following morning.
The Silk Tree has a grey bark and may develop vertical stripes as it matures. Albizia julibrissin Ombrella grows long, flat seeds pods that resemble peas. These pods mature from green to brown through the summer. Each pod contains several seeds.
Albizia trees are native to parts of the subtropics including Iran, China, and Korea. In many areas Albizia varieties are used as forage for livestock.
Unlike other Albizia species, the Albizia julibrissin Ombrella was bred to be more cold hardy and can survive winters in the UK and Ireland. It will tolerate temperatures as low as to -25° Celsius. Albizia julibrissin Ombrella also has darker leaves and bolder coloured flowers than other varieties of Albizia.
The Silk Tree is wonderfully low maintenance. There’s no need to prune it. It will naturally develop an umbrella shaped crown which makes it often sought after as a shade tree. Its airy flowers and unique leaves make it an excellent focal point for any garden.
Your Albizia julibrissin Ombrella tree should be planted in a warm area of the garden with full sun. It will do best in areas sheltered from strong winter winds. Another advantage of the Silk Tree is that it actually does best in poor or only slightly fertile soil, a great opportunity to bring life to an underperforming area of your garden. It also does best in soil that is neutral to alkaline.
The care for Silk Trees is minimal. They benefit from occasional watering and autumn mulching. Mulch should be removed in spring as soon as it starts to warm up to allow the soil around the roots to warm up.