The horse chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum) produces upright flower panicles in white each spring. The tree grows up to 75 feet in height when grown as a landscape specimen. In its native habitat in the Balkans the tree can attain a height of 100 feet. In mid-summer, long, spiky seed pods that contain two nuts appear and adorn the tree until fall.
The horse chestnut prefers a location that offers full sunlight but in areas with exceedingly hot summers the tree can benefit from partial shade to protect its foliage from suffering sun scorch. It requires moist soil that is rich in organic humus to truly thrive. The tree does not tolerate drought well. It also does not like water-logged roots, so you should always grow it in well-draining soil.
Plant the horse chestnut away from buildings and areas where automobiles are parked. The golf ball-sized nuts of the horse chestnut can dent metal and damage roofing when they fall. You can safely plant the tree near concrete sidewalks because its root system does not heave upward so the concrete will not crack near the tree.
Transplant and Pruning
The horse chestnut tree develops a deep taproot system so it does not transplant easily once established, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. It tolerates pruning well each spring to maintain its overall size and shape.
Avoid planting the horse chestnut tree in areas where livestock, children or pets frequent. The nuts contain a substance known as "aesculin" and are toxic if consumed. They can cause vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions and coma, according to the ASPCA.
Pests and Disease
The Japanese beetle can pose a serious threat to the horse chestnut tree. The pest will quickly consume the leaves. The tree may require spraying with an insecticide such as carbaryl for control. Leaf blotch (Guignardia aesculicauses), a fungus, can appear on the leaves of the tree. They take on a mottled yellow and red appearance. Eventually, the diseased leaf will dry and fall from the tree. There is no control except raking up and disposing of all infected leaves, according to the University of Maine. Applying fungicides in the early spring can help prevent the fungus from becoming severe.