The Q&A Archives: Poodling

Question: I spoke to ML Robinson here @ University of Nevada - Cooperative Extension, and he suggested that I contact you about what trees are best for poodling. He advised the Juniper or the Boxwood. I advised him that I will be in the area of Bowie Maryland, and I wanted to purchase there. Can you advise me of how the technique is done; the tree(s)I can use; and where I might purchase one in that area?

Thanks in advance,

Cheryl Coleman

Answer: Some of the best plants for topiary plants include Korean Box (Buxus microphylla var. microphylla) It is slow growing and has a slightly weeping habit. The Korean box has a tendency to go yellow in full sunshine so it is best grown in partial shade.

Common or English Box (Buxus sempervirens) A more vigorous growing box which can develop into a tight 10" ball in three years in the ground. It has a more upright growth habit; the English box is capable of reaching three or more metres (10' or more) but most gardeners restrict it to about 5'.

Dutch Box (Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa') The Dutch box is very slow growing and is best suited to tight miniature hedges or topiaries. The maximum height you should expect is around 2.5-3' but this may take 10 years.

Japanese Box (Buxus microphylla var. japonica ) An excellent topiary specimen and it is faster growing than the above species forming a 1'6" ball in three years. The leaves are more coarse and it has a tendency to flower sparsely topiaries.

Here are some tricks of the trade -
Choose a plant that resembles the shape you want to create.
Don't feed if you want tight foliage.
Fertilize once you have the shape established.
Water and feed around the outer edge of the plant so you are delivering nourishment to the feeder roots.
Carry out structural pruning during winter when growth is slower.
Prune lightly in spring to take out growth that is going in the wrong direction.

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