Ironwood Quick Growing Guide

The Ironwood makes a great backyard tree as it is resistant to many diseases and insect problems. It tends to blend in with other trees and is commonly labelled as inconspicuous.

Low to moderate pollution tolerance. Ironwood has the hardest wood of any native tree species, and is therefore not generally used for lumber. It has attractive fall colour and food for wildlife, and is recommended as an alternative to ash and Norway Maple trees.

Quick Growing Guide

Botanical Name: Ostrya virginiana

En français: Ostryer de Virginie

Water: Low water requirement.


Hardiness Zones:

Ironwood is a slow-growing tree adapted to many situations, except on waterlogged soils where the similarly sized blue beech thrives. Though the Ironwood grows slowly, it does so easily in shade or full sun. Its fruit resembles hops and its seeds feed a variety of birds and small animals. It is virtually pest and disease free and is therefore relatively unproblematic.

Trying to cut through an Ironwood stem resembles cutting through an iron pipe, as it shocks with a jolt when hit. It has greyish brown bark that splits and is said to look like strips of bacon when peeling.

Best Soil

It does best on neutral to acidic loam but tolerates a range from gravelly soils to poor drainage conditions.

Where to Plant

Because ironwood produces little litter, it is an excellent choice for planting near a pool or pond. Its natural habitat includes well-drained slopes and ridges, as well as dry open woods.

Propagating Ostrya virginiana

Plant the ironwood seeds spaced 1 seed to every 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Push seeds firmly into the soil. Cover each of the seeds with approximately 1/4 of an inch of fine sand. Mist the surface of the soil in the planting flat to thoroughly dampen.

Caring for Ironwood

Handles sun and is also shade tolerant. Do not over-water.

Companion plant suggestions include Sugar Maple, American Beech, Yellow Birch, White Ash.

Pruning Ostryer de Virginie

Ironwoods should be pruned in autumn, after the leaves have fallen, or in early spring before the sap forms. Crowded, crossing and branches should be removed. Older trees should only need pruning every 3-4 years. The trunks of young trees should be protected from the winter sun.


Disease and pests are uncommon with the Ironwood.

Young trees prefer organic soils (manure or compost)

Its wood used to be used to make tool handles, cogs and sleigh-runners.

Visit a Botanical Garden For Unique Experiences.

More on Gardening Calendar