Forum home Plants the stems /trunks grow?

Good Morning
Just looked at some nice eleagnus and photinia standards and half standards.
could anyone tell me, do the trunks/stems grow taller on these please or just thicker?
Also , if the trunks dont grow taller, and presuming the growth on top does, is the growth restricted to a certain size somehow?


  • No - trunks don't get taller. They get thicker by laying down new wood in the 'growing layer' just under the bark.

    The top growth would be maintained by pruning, or else it reaching whatever maximum size the plant in question typically grows to.

    I remember (for some reason), when aged about 5, me wondering if tree trunks somehow pushed up out of the ground. And realising soon after that extension growth is put on at the tips.
  • Thankyou Clarke.brunt..i have googled many times and havent found an answer. I didnt know they grew layers under the bark either...i guess thats where the rings are formed then.
    I am after a topiary look , but i wouldnt mind it being about 3m tall so maybe i could have a larger head on the top,
    Also , may i ask because the height re the stem/trunk is restricted , are the roots less invasive then? Plus , why doesnt the stem grow please? Whats stopping it? (Its really fascinating to me!)
  • Yes - tree rings from the annual growth put on the outside, so the smallest ring at the centre of a tree-trunk could be from many years ago, when that was the leafy growing tip.

    Assuming (hoping!) we're thinking about the same thing: I wouldn't describe the stem/trunk as 'restricted' - it's just been trained as a (half-)standard by the growing keeping a single stem, removing any branches which develop, until the height for the 'head' has been reached. Not suggesting anyone should do it, but one could develop more trunk by selecting a single branch from the head and allowing it to grow, while removing the others.

    The stem/trunk (meaning the length from the ground up to the first branches) can't get longer because it's made of solid wood in the centre - no longer alive (I think that's right) and unable to grow. The living bit is on the outside, adding another layer each year.
  • Thats so interesting!and well described.  Thankyou. And how about the roots, do they behave better because the trunk has stopped growing upwards? Thats my last question honest 😀
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,039
    The roots will be relative, in some way, to the amount of leaves. They will be as large as and extensive as they need to be to deliver the minerals and water demanded by the leaves. So if you keep your Eleagnus trimmed as a topiary lollipop, the root system won't be as extensive as if you let it grow to it's full potential. How well roots 'behave' will also depend upon the species and the soil conditions.
  • Thanks Loxley, most helpful. X
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