Honey Locust Trees: A Comprehensive Guide

Honey locusts are medium-sized deciduous trees native to North America’s Midwest and Appalachian regions. Honey locusts can improve the population of pollinators and local birds and mammals, boosting the biodiversity of different ecosystems. You can find honey locusts in a local or online native plant nursery. Here is more information about the identification, care, maintenance, and benefits of honey locusts:

Appearance and Identification

The Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos), or sweet-locust, is a moderately fast-growing, medium-sized hardwood tree. It reaches up to 100 feet in full sunlight and well-drained soil. The name is derived from a honey-like substance produced by its seedpods. The seedpods feed surrounding wildlife, making the honey locust a core actor in its native ecosystem. Honey locust has dark green doubly alternate compound leaves. The trunk and branches are covered in sharp thorns.

Growth and Care

Although the tree is hardy and adaptable to diverse climates, it is vulnerable to canker disease and fire. Proper care maintenance optimizes the tree’s growth. The honey locust can withstand partial shade but requires a minimum of 4 hours of even overhead sunlight daily. The honey locust tree will not survive without enough direct light for photosynthesis.

Honey locust trees need sufficient moisture to grow optimally, and they flourish in soil types like silt, clay, and loam. Properly drained soil prevents the roots from rotting. These trees may struggle or die if grown in clay, rocky soils, or areas with thin soil. Honey locusts can withstand alkali and acidic soils but will do best in neutral pH. Apply mulch or compost around the base to conserve moisture.

Trimming honey locust trees can help them maintain an attractive shape. Prune away dead branches and twigs, and rake up fallen seedpods as their sugary substance can attract unwanted animals and rodents. If you choose to plant the thorny variety of the honey locust, keep branches trimmed and out of walkways to prevent injuries. Use a rake to clear away fallen thorns after pruning.

Why Grow the Honey Locust Tree?

A matured honey locust has a unique thorny look, but this tree also has a thornless and fruitless variety that can be used for decorative landscaping. The seedpods of the honey locust tree are intriguing and produce a thick, sweet liquid. Honey locusts require little care to grow to maturity, and a growing honey locust tree does well without artificial fertilizers.

The thornless and fruitless variety is best for landscaping because of its sturdy structure, open canopies, and small leaves. Thornless honey locust trees are not invasive to other plant species and do not block sunlight from reaching your lawn. This prevents bare patches in your lawn commonly caused by shaded regions from full-canopied trees. The tiny leaflets of honey locust trees allow light through, giving your lawn and surrounding plants access to sufficient sunlight and allowing them to flourish.

Finding Honey Locusts at a Native Plant Nursery

Before visiting a native plant nursery, decide on the right variation of honey locust for your property. This decision can depend on your local soil type, climate, and your yard’s safety needs. Look for a native plant nursery with honey locust varieties suitable for your needs. Check the nursery’s operation hours before visiting, as some native plant nurseries only operate seasonally, by appointment, or by order. Confirm whether the nursery offers plants for residential or commercial use, and ask if they have tips for replanting and caring for native plants.

Get a Honey Locust Tree Today

Honey locusts can improve or complement the beauty of your landscape with their majestic open crown. They are adaptable to different soils and climates, making them easy to grow and care for. Visit a reputable native plant nursery to find a healthy honey locust plant and learn more about this species.