If you focus on native woody plants, decorative optics and frugal undemanding when choosing your house tree, you cannot avoid the whitebeam. As a majestic tree or opulent shrub, the white spring blossoms above glossy green leaves make our hearts beat faster. In autumn, lush, orange-red fruit umbels are resplendent above dark-colored foliage; much to the delight of the birds. The following profile presents the outstanding attributes. A selection of beautiful varieties may serve as a decision-making aid. How the care in the garden runs smoothly is also not hidden from you here.


  • The rose family (Rosaceae)
  • Name of the species: Whitebeam (Sorbus aria)
  • Native deciduous tree or shrub
  • Hardy and deciduous
  • Growth height in culture up to 10 meters, rarely up to 15 meters
  • White umbels of flowers from May to June
  • Ovate leaves, hairy tomentose underneath
  • Dark brown foliage in autumn
  • Orange-red apple fruits, 1 cm in size
  • Fruits ripen in winter in September and October
  • Use: solitary in the park and garden, wood for feeding birds

The small fruits are not suitable for consumption raw. The parasorbic acid it contains only dissolves when heated, so that it can be prepared as jam or fruit puree. In view of the unconvincing taste, the ornamental value of this Sorbus species is the focus of interest today.


Knowledgeable breeders took the pure Sorbus species as a template in order to develop varieties with individual advantages. The following selection introduces you to recommended hybrids for the private ornamental garden:

Whitebeam ‘Lutescens’ (Sorbus aria ‘Lutescens’)
As a small tree, this variety forms a compact, conical crown with stiffly upright branches. With an annual growth of 20-30 cm, this whitebeam only slowly gains height, which in particular reduces the effort required for pruning. In addition, ‘Lutescens’ proves to be richly fruity with orange-colored berries, which, however, taste quite bland. The outstanding attribute of this breed is the color of its foliage over the course of the growing season. The creamy-yellow shoots are followed by a shiny green summer color that ends in a light yellow fall spectacle.

  • Growth height 6-12 meters
  • White cymes from May to June

Whitebeam ‘Magnifica’ (Sorbus aria ‘Magnifica’)
If you are looking for a whitebeam as a large shrub, this hybrid is there. The branches are richly branched, stiffly upright and do not overhang. The leisurely annual drive is 15-20 cm and continues to decrease after 15 years. The leaves thrive in an elliptical shape, shiny dark green on the upper side and gray woolly hairs on the underside. Below the spherical, orange-red fruits, the foliage turns a light yellow color in autumn.

  • Growth height 6-12 meters
  • Growth width 4-6 meters

Whitebeam ‘Majestica’ (Sorbus aria ‘Majestica’)
This hybrid impresses with a slender, cone-shaped crown. The densely branched branches thrive at an angle, but do not assume an overhanging shape. The growth of 20-25 cm per year is normal for this Sorbus species. The leaves are almost twice as large as on the pure species, but hardly take on any autumn colour. With good care, the dark orange-red berries are significantly larger than 1 cm.

  • Growth height 6-12 meters
  • Suitable for trees and shrubs

Whitebeam ‘Aurea’ (Sorbus aria ‘Aurea’)
The favorite variety for the small garden remains comparatively small without losing its richly branched stature. You can grow ‘Aurea’ into a small tree or a decorative shrub, as all whiteberries tolerate pruning well. The variety also scores with a yellowish-green foliage during the summer, which turns a delicate orange in the fall.

  • Growth height 4-10 meters
  • Growth width 6-7 meters

care in the garden

A whitebeam contains the vitality for up to 200 years. The course for this is set by a prudent choice of location, the right soil conditions and professional care. If you pay attention to the following care instructions, this Sorbus species will prove to be a long-lived, robust generation tree.


The location preferences of a whitebeam are based on the following general conditions:

  • Sunny to partially shaded position
  • Gladly warm in summer, with little wind exposure

When choosing the location, keep an eye on the light and temperature conditions as well as the distance to buildings, the street and the neighboring property. Since the whitebeam, as a flat-rooted tree, is not immune to windthrow, in the worst case it should not damage a house. So choose a distance that corresponds to the expected growth height. With regard to the distance to the neighbors, the regional regulations that will be communicated to you by the public order office or building authority must be observed. Since neighborhood law in Germany is a matter for the federal states, no general information can be given.


Basically, the whitebeam thrives in any normal garden soil that is not acidic or desert-like dry textured. In order to offer a Sorbus aria optimal growth conditions, the following criteria come into focus:

  • Humic, deep, calcareous soil
  • Loamy-sandy to loamy-gravelly
  • Fresh to moderately dry

A neutral pH value is desirable, although a slightly acidic or slightly alkaline soil acid value is perfectly tolerated.

Idea: With the help of soil additives, you can easily compensate for minor defects. Poor, sandy-dry soil regularly add compost, leaf soil or bark humus. Soil that is too moist and tends to compact will become looser and more permeable after a few shovels of sand or fine grit.

watering and fertilizing

The whitebeam copes very well with short-term drought, while waterlogging can cause significant problems. Therefore, only water the ornamental tree if there has been no rain for a long time. Instead of watering every day when needed, run the garden hose for 30 minutes once or twice a week. In this way, the moisture penetrates to the root tips, for the benefit of deeper rooting and more stability.

During the first 10 years of life, the tree or shrub gratefully accepts an initial fertilization in March/April with compost or bark humus. In places where there is little lime, you can also add garden lime, algae lime or rock flour. In autumn, the repeated administration of potassium-rich comfrey liquid manure strengthens the frost hardiness. In later years, the additional nutrient supply is not absolutely necessary.

Tip: A mulch layer of leaves, grass clippings or compost keeps the soil moist and warm for longer. At the same time, nutrients are continuously released to the roots.

To cut

By nature, the moreberry develops a harmonious crown that does not necessarily require a shape cut. Considering the slow growth rate, you will be thankful for every inch of growth anyway. Nevertheless, the tree tolerates pruning well and tolerates pruning, provided it is carried out professionally and at the right time. How to do it right:

  • A date between October and February on a frost-free day is ideal
  • Branches that are too long can be shortened by up to two thirds
  • Make each cut at a slight angle over an outward-facing bud

After the topiary, thin out the crown or the bush thoroughly. This care measure is required every year, even if you do not cut back. Remove all deadwood, stunted and crossing branches. From the age of 5, take out 2 or 3 of the oldest branches. Since these have a corresponding diameter, take a pruning saw to hand. In the first step, saw off the branch down to 10 cm. Saw the underside a few centimeters deep and only then cut the entire branch from the top. Treat the remaining stub in the same way, while maintaining a sufficient distance from the astring. The astring is the thickened transition between branch and trunk and should never be damaged.


The robust frost hardness makes special precautions for wintering in the garden unnecessary. However, late frosts on the ground can damage the buds that have already been planted so much that this year’s flowers and the autumnal fruit decorations fail. If the meteorologists announce night frosts in April and May, wrap the crown with garden fleece or jute ribbons.


If you are in the mood for more whiteberries in the garden, propagation can be done either with cuttings in summer or sticks in winter. Both methods are explained in more detail below.


If the whitebeam is full of juice during early summer, cut non-blooming top cuttings that are 10-15 cm long. These are defoliated in the lower half and planted in a pot with poor potting soil. After you have cast the substrate, put a transparent hood over it. The warm, humid microclimate created in this way has a beneficial effect on rooting. In a semi-shady, warm location, water regularly and air the cover for a few minutes every day. If a cutting drives out fresh, the hood has done its job and is removed. Rooting is now progressing quickly, so that you can place a vital young plant in the bed in autumn.


The majority of hobby gardeners favor the propagation of Sorbus by means of sticks, as this takes place during the winter period with little work. In contrast to the leafy cuttings that are not completely woody, the cuttings are bare and come from the woody middle of the branch. How to do it right:

  • Cut sticks between November and February on a frost-free day
  • From the middle of a healthy branch, cut 15-20 cm long pieces with several knots
  • Start the cut just below or above a knot

Plant two-thirds of each stick in moist peat sand or emaciated potting soil. In the semi-shady location at 8-10 degrees, water only occasionally until the first shoots develop. In frost-free winter weather, stick the shoots directly into the ground, spread a layer of leaves over them and leave the cuttings to root on site.

The whitebeam spreads natural charm in the garden with white spring blossoms, shiny green summer leaves and eye-catching fruit decorations in autumn. A sunny to partially shaded location is important in order to elicit the benefits of the tree. In the humus-loose, fresh to moderately dry and calcareous soil, care is limited to watering when it is dry and an organic initial fertilization in March. A pruning is just as dispensable as special precautions for the winter. Only an annual thinning out in February/March should be included in the care program. It is not just the pure Sorbus species that comes with these modest claims. The varieties presented here turn out to be just as frugal and undemanding.

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