Ailanthus altissima, better known as Tree of heaven, is a plant native to China that can now be found growing in much of the United States.
It can be grown in zones 4 through 8 (UK H6; hardy to -20°C (-4°F).
Be aware that in some areas of the US, it is considered a noxious weed or a plant that is invasive, and considered a threat to native species.
Tree of Heaven photograph by Plant Image Library; CC.
Ailanthus altissima grows very quickly, and can reach up to 60—80 feet tall (18 to 24 m). It this should be grown in a spacious area of a garden.
It will grow in nearly any soil type and sunlight conditions.
The wood is weak, so be wary of planting it close to exposed structures, as strong winds are able to topple it.
People tend to grow this tree for its ability to thrive in poor soil and in places where other trees will not grow. Generally, however, Ailanthus altissima is considered a poor landscape tree as it is messy and chokes out other plants.
If one chooses to grow Ailanthus altissima, then female trees are generally preferable to male trees.
This preference is because, while both female and male trees flower, male flowers have an unpleasant odor. Female flowers produce seeds that turn reddish-brown in the fall.
Ailanthus altissima seeds are dispersed via their samara, which twists as it falls and is caught by the wind. photograph by candiru; CC.
If planting Ailanthus altissima in a garden, keep it away from existing structures and native plants that it can easily outcompete.
It may be sown in "poor" soil and in low to direct sunlight.
One should keep the soil moist while the plant is young and need not worry about watering mature plants except in times of extreme drought or heat.
Ailanthus altissima leaf closeup photograph by Teresa Grau Ros; CC.
tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) photograph by NatureServe.
I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Ailanthus altissima. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides for Bonsei species: How to grow Zanthoxylum simulans and Ginkgo biloba plants.