The common beech is an extremely robust plant with a fascinating autumn color. Their pruning tolerance and their bushy growth also make them interesting as a hedge plant. Some of the leaves of Fagus sylvatica remain on the trunk until spring, which means that they offer a special privacy screen in your own garden even in the barren winter months.


  • Fast growing wood – up to 40 cm growth per year is not uncommon.
  • The name red beech refers to the color of young shoots.
  • In autumn the foliage turns golden yellow to purple-red and can remain on the trunk until spring.
  • The beechnuts take about 30 years to form and provide a nutritious source of energy for squirrels and birds
  • Birds use European beech hedges for brood care in summer.


European beeches are fast-growing deciduous trees that hardly make any demands on their location.
The popular native trees can be found in shady forests as well as on light field edges and in parks.

  • The Fagus sylvatica can be cultivated in any location – thrives in sunny to shady places.
  • Large obstacles, such as house walls and garden fences, should be considered before planting. Because as a tree, the common beech can reach a height of over 30 meters and after a few years it can quickly develop into a problem in the immediate vicinity of a house.

The right soil for European beeches

The deciduous wood can also be quickly satisfied when it comes to the “plant substrate”:

  • Humus-rich, calcareous soil is preferred by the tree’s heart roots.
  • The soil should be loose and deep.
  • Upgrade sandy substrates with compost and clay – this means that moisture is stored in the soil longer.
  • A pH value between 5 – 7.5 promotes the growth of the common beech.
Tip: Regularly mulch the soil around the hedge plants. The irrigation or rainwater flows away faster.


The common beech already pauses in growth in August, so that from this point onwards the supply of additional nutrients must not take place.

  • Fertilization takes place between the end of February and the beginning of August.
  • To avoid damage, stop the nutrient supply completely by mid-August at the latest.
  • Long-term fertilizers have proven themselves well for European beeches.
  • Mix plenty of compost or horn shavings into the soil around the plant in spring.
  • Never bring fertilizer into contact with leaves or shoots. This can lead to “burns” of the same.

Conventional universal fertilizer is rather unsuitable for hedge plants and deciduous trees. If, despite regular composting, the plants are visibly drooping, you can order a soil analysis. In this way, you can find out in detail which minerals are missing in the substrate and which must also be added to the common beech in the form of fertilizer.


Like many native plants, the European beech is also susceptible to waterlogging, but long periods of drought are also very detrimental to the deciduous tree.

  • It has to be watered more often in summer. Check the substrate regularly and pour again as soon as the top layer has dried.
  • Avoid waterlogging at all costs.
  • Mix potsherds or coarse pebbles into the soil before planting. This means that larger amounts of water can drain off more quickly.
  • Water that is too calcareous does not harm the European beech.
  • There is no need for a water supply in the winter months.

Plant spacing

European beeches are long-lived deciduous trees, which can reach a stately size and enormous growth width. But even if they are planted as a beech hedge, the trees need a certain minimum distance from neighboring plants.

  • European beeches develop a deciduous habit. Keep this in mind when planting.
  • With hedge plants, there are a maximum of two to three young beeches per square meter.
  • If the deciduous trees are allowed to develop freely, you should plan a minimum distance of about 15 meters from permanent buildings.
  • Plan the exact location in the garden before you start cultivating it. Moving an older European beech is almost impossible and always involves a lot of effort.


The unproblematic and simple cultivation, its longevity and the splendor of autumn colors of its leaves make the common beech a popular deciduous tree. The successful propagation of Fagus sylvatica can be carried out in two different ways: by cultivating seeds or by removing shoot cuttings.

  • The propagation of shoot cuttings can take place in spring or autumn. However, there are better chances of success in the months of February to March.
  • Perennial shoots are well suited as cuttings.
  • Use a sharp knife to shorten the selected shoot to a length of about 8-12 centimeters.
  • The top 5 – 8 sheets must be retained, the rest is removed downwards.
  • To protect the cuttings from pests, resort to planting in a flower pot while the roots are forming.
  • In this case, drainage on the bottom of the pot prevents the formation of waterlogging.
  • Conventional plant substrate is perfectly adequate.
  • Place the cutting in the planter and take it outside.
  • Unlike many exotic plants, European beeches do not need high humidity and permanently warm temperatures to take root.
  • It can take 6 to 9 weeks for the first fine roots to form.
  • As soon as the first new shoots appear on the cutting, the young red beech can be moved to its final location.
Tip: Treat the freshly rooted European beech to a humus-rich soil. This means that you can do without an additional supply of fertilizer in the first year.

It is easier to grow seeds or beechnuts. It is difficult to take these fruits from your own hedge plants, because red beeches – like many other beech varieties – only bloom after about 30 years. If you take a walk in the forest, you are more likely to find what you are looking for.

  • European beeches are “dark germs” and need a cold phase before budding.
  • In order to increase or accelerate the germination capacity, you can stratify the beechnuts in a dark bag in your own refrigerator for about 6 weeks.
  • Choose a nutrient-poor substrate, such as sand.
  • It is up to you whether you sow the seeds directly in the bed or whether you sow beechnuts outside in a container.
  • Beechnuts are popular food for squirrels and birds in winter – therefore ensure adequate protection.
  • Press the beechnuts about 1 – 2 centimeters deep into the substrate and cover.
  • In the coming spring, the first shoot tips of the seedlings should ideally appear. However, the cultivation does not always succeed.
  • As soon as the seedlings have developed a few pairs of leaves, the plants can be moved to their intended location.

Planting tips

Whether as a hedge plant or a single tree – beech trees look stately everywhere.

  • If the beech is allowed to develop unhindered towards a tree, you should consider the minimum distance to buildings and other plants.
  • As a red beech hedge, place a maximum of two to three plants per square meter.
  • The soil must be rich in humus and permeable.
  • Mix large amounts of compost into the substrate if necessary.
  • The planting hole should be three times as wide and deep as the root ball.
  • To avoid waterlogging and soil compaction, you can mix larger pebbles with the soil.
  • After planting, water the young beeches extensively and cut back by a third. This promotes bushy budding.
Tip: If you want to plant a beech hedge, tie up the space provided with a leash. This helps you to keep a straight line with the plants.


Like all domestic hardwoods, beech trees do not require any special protection in winter. It does not matter whether the plants are young or hedge.

The right cutting technique

European beech are among the plants that are compatible with pruning and forgive a relatively large number of beginners’ mistakes. A thinning or pruning can be done at least twice a year, which is particularly useful with low-lying hedge plants.

The cut in hedge plants

  • Before the European beech shoots – from the end of February to mid-March – the first cut is made.
  • With a sharp hedge trimmer, the hedge plants are cut back to the desired width and height.
  • At this point in time, the Fagus sylvatica tolerates radical pruning right into the old wood.
  • The second cut is made at the beginning of July, just before the European beech pauses in growth.
  • Thin out only moderately and completely remove unwanted secondary shoots.
  • Dead plant parts can be removed all year round.
Note: Loosen the soil around the beech trees while you are still cutting. Soil compaction promotes waterlogging and you can remove unwanted shoots directly from the trunk.

The cut in trees

  • The trees are cut in late autumn or in the winter months.
  • Make sure you have the right tools beforehand – a ladder, saw and pruning shears should be close at hand.
  • If necessary and depending on the tree height, secure it additionally.
  • Remove weak side shoots directly from the trunk.
  • Also eliminate shoots that grow contrary to the desired tree shape.
  • Water shoots – branches that rise steeply vertically – completely remove with a saw. These shoots can permanently damage the main branches.
  • A strong intervention often results in a strong shoot. Therefore cut as much as necessary and as little as possible.

Pests and diseases

Even the robust European beeches are not immune to every type of fungal disease, and the native deciduous tree also likes to eat some insects.

Beech aphids
Brown discolored leaves and curled shoot tips can be a sign of beech aphids. These damaged insects reach a maximum body length of 3 millimeters and are difficult to see with the naked eye. Also known as beech woolly louse or beech tree louse, it spends its entire life cycle on the host plant. The pests, some of which are wingless, feed on the cell sap of the European beech through their proboscis. The control of beech aphids, which specialize in beeches, is extremely easy:

  • Natural predators such as ladybirds, lacewings and parasitic wasps help in a natural way to get rid of the beech wool aphids.
  • Field horsetail brew and nettle broth prevent infestation and can eliminate minor occurrences of pests.
  • Use chemical insecticides with caution. Because beech lice play a not inconsiderable role for bees and ants thanks to their honeydew.

Long periods of rain, especially in the summer months, promote the infestation with the fungus. This disease, known colloquially as “leaf tan”, ensures that the beech leaves wilt and fall off prematurely.

  • Leaf tan does not cause lasting damage to the plant and does not affect its growth in any way.
  • In order to eliminate the visually disturbing fungal disease nonetheless, special fungicides are available from specialist dealers.
  • The spores of the “Apiognomonia” fungus overwinter in the fall foliage. Immediately remove all fallen leaves from infected plants to minimize re-infection in the following year.

Beech leaf gall midge Gall-
like structures are often to be found on the leaves of the European beech. These are a visible sign of the beech leaf gall mosquito, another pest that specializes in beech. In the gall mosquito it is the larvae that feed on the cell sap of the host plant. The white to yellow colored galls are also only an optical problem and do not harm the European beech. However, you can also take effective action against the beech leaf gall mosquito with the right tips:

  • The larvae of the gall mosquito fall from the leaves in late autumn and overwinter in their galls in the foliage of the beeches. Remove all the leaves and dispose of them with the general waste. In this way you prevent the larvae from developing into adults in spring and the pest cycle starting again.
  • You can also buy effective chemical insecticides against beech leaf gall mosquitoes in specialist shops. However, only use them in measurements and according to the instructions on the packaging.

Conclusion European
beeches hardly need any care, they are only susceptible to waterlogging and long periods of drought.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *