The Q&A Archives: Pruning Of A Smoke Tree

Question: I just purchased a smoke tree. I planted it in my front yard, thinking it would grow into a small tree (somewhat like the size of a pear tree). It is currently about 1.5 feet tall. To acheive the tree look (intead of a bush), can I prune the leaves at the bottom?

Answer: The leaves are needed for growth while the plant is becoming established, so it is not really a good idea to remove them yet. Over time, the tree look is achieved by allowing only one or a few stems to grow from the base and thicken up to serve as trunks. You would remove any excess shoots each spring. Do keep in mind however that this tree's natural shape is not a the somewhat formal, symmetrical outline as one would expect from a pear, instead it is a bit blowsy or billowing and more informal.

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