Answer: I love Duranta! Their flowers are pretty and they bloom pretty much all summer long. You can train them into trees although the process really should start while they are very young. A 3-4' plant will be difficult but not impossible to train into a tree. You'll need to do a lot of pruning, though. If you were starting with a very young plant you would simply choose the healthiest most upright stem and stake it to keep it upright. Then you would remove all the other branches and stems. As the staked stem grows upward it will develop bark and be quite rigid. As long as you keep all the other stems cut off and if you continually remove all of the leaves that emerge from the stem, except for the topknot of growth at the top of the stem, you'd have the beginnings of a tree form. Once the stem has grown to the desired height you would pinch out the growing tips (this is an ongoing process) and you'd end up with a globe-like top and a single bare stem. Eventually you would stop pinching out the tips of the branches, allowing them to drape down and grow outward, a little like a weeping cherry or weeping willow tree. With your 3-4' plants you'll need to isolate a single upright branch and prune away all the competing branches that grow from the root mass. Then remove all the growth along the stem except for a topknot of foliage. Such severe pruning will set your plant back a bit because of the stress. You might want to try this technique with just one of your plants to see how it reacts. Good luck with your project!
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