How To Grow White Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus) In Your Garden

Chionanthus virginicus, often referred to as White Fringe Tree or Old Man's Beard, is a deciduous tree or shrub. It carries showy clusters of fragrant, fringe-like white blossoms. These bloom in late spring.

The plant typically reaches an height of 12 to 20 feet (3.5 to 6 m), with a spread of 12 to 20 feet (3.5 to 6 m).

Chionanthus virginicus tree
Chionanthus virginicus photograph by F. D. Richards; CC.

The flowers are followed by attractive dark blue fruits. Leaves turn yellow in autumn, thus adding year-round interest.

This tree is beloved by gardeners for its robust constitution, versatility, and low maintenance. It thrives in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9, and is considered hardy to -5°C (RHS H6).

How to Grow Chionanthus virginicus in the Garden

Chionanthus virginicus prefers a location with full sun to partial shade. It is adaptable to a variety of soil types, including sandy, loamy, and clay, but the soil should be well-drained. It tolerates a pH range from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline.

The best time for planting is in the spring or fall.

Planting holes should be twice as wide, and the same depth as the root ball. Once the tree is placed in the hole, backfill with soil, and then water thoroughly.

White Fringetree flower bloom
White Fringetree image by Katja Schulz; CC.

The tree will require regular watering, especially during its first growing season. This will help toestablish a deep and extensive root system.

Once established, it can tolerate drought conditions, but regular watering during spells of dry weather will help the tree thrive. A slow-release, balanced fertilizer applied in the spring can aid vigorous growth.

Pruning should be carried out after blooming to maintain shape. Remove spent and damaged branches. Pruning is usually pretty minimal.

Pests such as scales and borers can become a concern, as can diseases such as powdery mildew and leaf spots. Maintaining good cultural practices can help keep the tree healthy, and improve resistant to pests and diseases.

Using Chionanthus virginicus for your landscape can offer a host of benefits, as it has stunning floral displays, and a hardy nature. This tree promises can make a great addition to your garden.

Quick Chionanthus virginicus Growing and Care Guide

Scientific Name: Chionanthus virginicus.

Common Names: White Fringe Tree, Old Man's Beard, Grancy Greybeard.

Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): USDA Zones: 3-9.

Best Used For / Garden Location: Ornamental tree in lawns, near patios or woodland gardens.

Plant Details

Life Cycle / Plant Type: Perennial.

Plant Height: 12-20 ft (3.5-6 m).

Plant Spread: 12-20 ft (3.5-6 m).

Blooms: Late spring to early summer.

Flower Details: White, fringe-like, fragrant, borne in clusters.

Leaf Foliage: Green, turning yellow in fall.

Fruit: Dark, olive-like fruit that ripen in late summer.

Growing Conditions and Location

Best Light Conditions: Full sun to part shade.

Suitable Soil Types: Moist, well-drained soils; can tolerate clay, loam, and sand.

Sowing / planting: Not applicable. Plant young trees in spring.

Germination time: Not applicable for trees.

Propagation: By seeds or semi-hardwood cuttings.

Plant Care: Water regularly; prune as necessary to maintain shape and remove dead branches.

Growing in pots and containers: Not suitable due to its size.

Growing as a Houseplant: Not typically suitable as an indoor plant due to size and sunlight requirements.

Further Information

Miscellaneous: Attracts birds with its fruit. Tolerant of urban pollution. Not known to be invasive.

Pests and diseases: Generally pest-free but can occasionally suffer from scale, borers, and caterpillars.

Common Cultivars / Varieties: Chionanthus virginicus 'Spring Fleecing' is a male form with superior flowering.

Family: Oleaceae, the Olive family.

Native: Native to the southeastern United States.

References and Further Reading: MBG Plant Finder – White Fringe Tree; Clemson Fringe Tree Guide; University of Florida: Trees and Powelines.

Common Questions

Does Chionanthus virginicus make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Chionanthus virginicus can make a great garden or landscaping plant. Its showy white flowers and vibrant fall color makes it a particularly visual appealing choice for landscaping.

Is Chionanthus virginicus a fragrant plant?

Yes it is fragrant. It produces sweetly scented white flowers; these create a pleasant aroma in the spring.

What is the perfect location to grow White Fringe Tree?

White Fringe tree grows best in full sun to part shade and in moist, well-drained soils. It is adaptable to different soil types and is hardy in USDA zones 3-9.

Is Chionanthus virginicus invasive in the USA?

Chionanthus virginicus is not considered to be an invasive plant in US states outside of where it is native of.

How do I remove Chionanthus virginicus from my garden?

To remove Chionanthus virginicus, you should cut down the tree, grind or remove the stump, and clear out any remaining roots. Due to its size, you may need to hire a professional.


White Fringe Tree is a small, deciduous tree native to the eastern United States. It thrives in full sun to part shade and requires well-drained soil. Its clusters of white flowers in late spring make it a garden standout.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this guide on how to grow Chionanthus virginicus. You may also enjoy the following growing guides: How to grow Chionanthus retusus, Common Olive, and Jasminum nudiflorum plants in the garden.