Planting wild service tree - Instructions & tips for location & substrate

Planting wild service tree - Instructions & tips for location & substrate

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The wild service tree has become relatively unknown, but it is a real gem and conjures up a gigantic eye-catcher in the garden. In addition, it has no great demands to thrive.

You may not know which trees we are talking about because the service tree (Sorbus torminalis) has become quiet. The trees were once used as firewood and valued as an energy tree. Today, fossil fuels have overshadowed the service tree. Completely wrong, because the trees are definitely an eye-catcher in parks and larger gardens, not least because of the fragrant flowers in spring and the bright red autumn colors.

With the planting of the wild service tree in your garden, a handsome and attractive deciduous tree with a long history is experiencing a renaissance.

Plant Description

The service tree belongs to the plant genus of the powder berries. The rose family grows to heights of more than twenty meters. In the wild, the tree can grow up to 30 meters. The trunk grows up to one meter in diameter over the years. Similarities to the pear tree become clear. This is the reason why the service tree owes its nickname “Swiss pear tree”. The broad, slightly egg-shaped leaves are about five centimeters long. The smooth and brownish bark of young trees turns gray-black in older plants. The wild service tree can reach a proud age of up to 300 years.

History of the wild service tree

If the wild service tree still has a shadowy existence today, earlier the pome fruit had better times. Until the late 19th century, many forests were used for firewood. The wild service trees were cut down for this. The stick was left in the ground and the plant sprouted again. This was referred to as Niederwaldwirtschaft. The wild service tree was also valued for its hard wood. Since today there is hardly any coppice management and the high forest generally prevails, the wild service tree was replaced by the shade tree species and has therefore become a rare sight in our forests today.

Where is wild service spread?

The wild service tree has a wide distribution area and can be found from the south of England to the Caucasus. The most common crops appear on the Balkan Peninsula and in France. In Germany the occurrence is generally declining, but the wild service tree is present almost everywhere, except for the Northwest German lowlands.

" Tip: In the past, wild service trees only grew in warmer regions, in the wake of climate change, service plants can now also be cultivated in northern Germany or in the low mountain ranges.

Optimal planting conditions for the service tree


You should be able to offer plenty of space to the service tree at first. When planting, consider that your sapling would like to grow 25 meters in height and reach a considerable trunk diameter.

" Tip: Wild service trees grow slowly and will not grow over your head in the first years of standing.

Wild service trees prefer a sunny site. There the trees grow quite quickly in their youth and can grow up to half a meter in height each year. Older trees usually only grow about 15 centimeters a year. The trees tolerate heat well. The wild service tree also has no objection to direct sunlight. The plants feel particularly comfortable on steep slopes facing south.

" Tip: Young plants also tolerate a rather shady location. Older trees need a lot of light.


  • bright
  • sunny
  • unique


The wild service tree is a deep root. The trees want to extend their roots deep into the earth. They do this best when the soil appears well drained. This is generally an advantage because the plants do not tolerate waterlogging. A permeable floor allows the irrigation water to drain better and thus protects against waterlogging.

The crops need a nutrient-rich soil that should be rather dry. The substrate may be calcareous. Weakly acidic substrates are also tolerated. The plants usually get along well even with heavier clay soils.

" Tip: The crops feel particularly comfortable in winegrowing regions. In Germany, the main deposits are on the Rhine, Neckar or Moselle.

The roots spread widely and usually reach a larger diameter than the tree top. This means the trees can withstand storms and are well equipped to withstand long periods of drought.


  • nutritious
  • permeable
  • clayey
  • weakly acidic

Planting instructions:

❶ Select location
❷ Prepare the floor
Aufwerten Upgrade the floor
❹ Water the plant
❺ Dig out the planting hole
Einsetzen Insert the plant
❼ Close the planting hole
❽ Press the floor well
❾ Water the plant

After selecting the location, you can start preparing the soil. The wild service tree needs a loose and well-drained soil. Therefore, remove all densifications and loosen the substrate down to its deeper layers. The wild service tree has a very high nutrient requirement. Poor soils can be upgraded with compost. Mature compost is a sustainable natural fertilizer that provides the young plants with nutrients all round.

To ensure that the roots can soak up enough liquid, water the service tree before planting. To do this, place the plant in a bucket of water and wait until no more air bubbles rise from the container. Then the plant is adequately hydrated.

The planting hole should be dug at least twice the width of the root ball. Insert the plant and be careful not to injure the roots. Now the substrate can be filled up and you can water the wild service tree. Young plants cope with longer periods of drought less well than older trees.

" Tip: After rooting, the tree can supply itself with nutrients via the long tap roots and the watering can be stopped.

If the area is freely accessible, the wild service tree should be fenced in after planting. This protects the plant from being bitten by the wild.

"By the way: The best time to plant the deciduous tree is autumn. If you have container plants come from the nursery, you can bring them into the soil all year round.

Find locationThe wild service tree wants to go high and also forms extensive root systems.
The tree should be planted on its own.
A sunny location is ideal.
Prepare the substrateThe plants prefer a nutrient-rich soil.
The addition of compost ensures the nutrient supply.
The soil should be well drained so that the water can drain off easily and there is no waterlogging.
Make plantingThe planting hole should be dug deep enough.
The soil must be loosened up deeply before planting.
The plant should be watered before planting.
Even after planting, the service tree is easy to water.