The Q&A Archives: Topiary Trees

Question: I have a Rose of Sharon drawf shrub. It is still very small and I was wondering if I could train it into a topiary tree. If so how do I begin and for that matter how do I complete it?

Answer: You can keep your plant small by selectively cutting off branches after they have produced blossoms. If you pinch them out too soon, the plant won't flower. I've seen Rose of Sharon trained into a tree form - simply remove all of the sprouts that come from the stem except for a few at the top. Eventually the stem will elongate and you'll have a bare 'trunk' with a canopy of leaves and flowers. If this is what you have in mind, cut the lower stems or branches off and rub out any buds that form below the canopy. As new stems and twigs form in the canopy, pinch out the older ones and those that have produced flowers, but allow some new ones to grow to help renew the canopy. Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus 'Althaea') is a deciduous plant and will lose its leaves in the winter, giving you a great opportunity to inspect the canopy structure and cut out the old wood before new leaves bud out in the spring.

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