Question from Gail:
Hi Pat, I enjoy your books and website very much–what a wealth of information and inspiration!
They’re becoming beautiful small trees, but so far are slim and lanky. Do they require any corrective pruning in their youth? Can I tip back for greater bushiness? So far I’ve done nothing to them but let them grow. Thank you!
Answer from Pat:
I have seen Agonis flexuosa ‘Jervis Bay After Dark’ in nursery cans and display gardens at the county fair and elsewhere. Monrovia Nursery website has a very pretty photo of one growing in a raised bed with wide foliage and looks like a skinny trunk. I have seen other photos that make it look like more of a shrub than a tree. Monrovia says you have to water deeply and often the first year to develop a large root system. After that it’s drought resistant. They also say it’s slow growing to 15 or 25 feet and 10 to 15 feet wide. I have yet to see a full grown one and I have wondered if it is mainly a screen plant or novelty item. But my guess is that only time will tell how well this tree grows in California long term. Meanwhile I would leave the lower branches on as long as possible to encourage the trunk to grow strong. Also don’t stake too tightly. Let it sway in the wind to grow a strong trunk. Also, yes I would pinch back the sides, especially the lower branches take off a foot at least to encourage strength and branching, and do not cut back the top leader or you will dwarf it and make it grow wide instead of tall. Follow the usual guidelines for developing a good branch structure in trees.
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