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Pruning any shrub into a tree?

After some neglect my fatsia japonica lost a lot of its leaves. So I decided to prune it into a tree and it’s looking great so far.

Question: can the same principle be applied to any shrub?

I would like to purchase a Pittosporum 'Silver Queen' and do the same. I think it would make a beautiful tree given the contrast of the black stems and the silvery foliage.

thanks 
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Posts

  • K67K67 Leicestershire Posts: 2,507
    In theory I suppose you can. Fatsia have thick stems so they lend themselves to this type of pruning as all the leaves grow from one point at the top of a stem and the older leaves lower down die off so you get bare stems very easily.
    I did sort of cloud pruned a viburnum tinus leaving 3 sturdy stems and shaping the top once as was quite pleased with the effect.
    I've no idea what the pittosporum grows like whether they make thick stems or they are much thinner.and more twiggy, in which case you might have to keep a lot of stems to keep any leaves at the top. 
  • Thanks for this insight @K67. I hadn’t considered the thickness of the stems. Will do more research online... 
  • AthelasAthelas CambridgeshirePosts: 690
    I have Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Tandara Gold' pruned as a tree — the stem is pretty thick. I’ll take a photo later when there’s more light.
  • B3B3 South East LondonPosts: 24,086
    edited April 2021
    I've done it with an elderberry. It looks like a small tree now.
    This is last  year  it's just coming into leaf now. It will be covered in blossom  later.

    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 6,557
    I did it with a multi-stemmed viburnum tinus last year @K67 and it looked lovely, but it doesn’t want to stay that way! It needs constant shaping and is now developing a frilly skirt around the base:

  • MarlorenaMarlorena East AngliaPosts: 7,134
    Photinia 'Red Robin' can be trained that way and I think looks rather good..
    I've seen Pittosporum tenuifolium, the green one, trained into a small tree, but it was an old plant with a huge trunk... as for 'Silver Queen' I don't know where you live, but this is not totally hardy... mine was cut down to about half way some years ago at -10C... and almost to the ground at about -12...  successive winters..    these temps are somewhat rare now, but you never know do you?.. 

    I've also grown the almost identical Collaig Silver and Elizabeth, but they did not contend with a bad winter.. they are all beautiful, no doubt about that..
  • AthelasAthelas CambridgeshirePosts: 690
    edited April 2021
    Here’s my Tandara Gold — needs a haircut (like me). There’s no growth around the base.



  • KeenOnGreenKeenOnGreen Posts: 1,744
    @squirral87k4-WvGwT  Yes, you can do it with almost any variety of Pittosporum.  The tree in the photo is a 7 foot high Pittosporum garnetii, grown as a standard.  Where it contacts the ground there is one stem, however this branches into a multi-stem almost immediately.  If the previous owner who originally planted it had cut out the multi-stems, and kept only the main leader, then it would be a true standard, with a single trunk.  Does that make sense?

    If you only want a single trunk, you will need to keep cutting out any side branches as the tree grows.  I have seen beautiful single trunk specimens in our local area, which are 3-4 metres high, so it can be done.  Be prepared to be patient though.



    You will find it far quicker if you allow your Pittosporum to keep it's multi-stem habit, but trim the sides to encourage it to grow upwards.  We have done this with our Pittosporum Wrinkled Blue, which is in a column shape  It's now about 6 foot tall, but would have been much higher, if we didn't trim the top each year.  This is the best photo I could find of it.



  • brackenbracken South West EnglandPosts: 91
    After some neglect my fatsia japonica lost a lot of its leaves. So I decided to prune it into a tree and it’s looking great so far.

    Question: can the same principle be applied to any shrub?

    I would like to purchase a Pittosporum 'Silver Queen' and do the same. I think it would make a beautiful tree given the contrast of the black stems and the silvery foliage.

    thanks 
    I'd like to see a photo of the fatsia please as it sounds a really good idea.

  • Thank you all for the helpful replies and great photos. All very useful and I’ve taken notes of the names of the trees as a backup.

    @squireler Here’s a photo, it’s still very small. I have two at this height (but photo of only one) which started as one plant. Last autumn when I pruned it, I sawed off the very thick branch growing from the bottom of the trunk and planted it as a separate plant. Both are doing well despite being in such a narrow space. The idea is to keep pruning until the foliage reaches the top of the fence. The trunk isn’t straight but I prefer it this way.

    @KeenOnGreen - thank you for the photos and advice. All very clear but how long do you think it would take to turn a pittosporum silver Queen into a tree? Online searches suggest it grows 40-60cm /year which seems quite fast ?


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