Ask a Question forum: Tabebuias that have no branches after a year of growth

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Name: Robert Bowers
Hamilton, Ontario
RobertJM
Mar 21, 2016 10:11 AM CST
I am hoping I might find out what is going on with my one year old tebebui plants. They have reached about 24 inches high in a big 18 inch pots, lots of big leaves but also no branches. The seeds were collected in Cuba from healthy trees. When does branching begin or have I done something wrong ?

(This image is from late Oct 2015, transplanted to a much bigger pot in early December. It is 7 inches taller now (Maarch 21, 2016) but still no branching. Also, it seems odd to me that the trunks gradually increase in diameter higher up and are about double at the top. I started 6 seeds, all of which sprouted and all exhibit the same growth pattern.)

Thumb of 2016-03-21/visitor/98fe97


Thumb of 2016-03-21/RobertJM/51b6d4

robertbowers.net
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 21, 2016 10:46 AM CST
Hi Robert, and welcome to ATP.

I've never seen any Tabebuia seedlings but they do grow moderately slowly to be big, widely branched trees here and are not particularly deep-rooted. Known as a bad landscape tree to have near your house as they tend to blow over in high winds. Also they are not evergreen, so don't panic if they lose all their leaves - that will happen a few weeks before they burst into bloom.

It's possible that they aren't getting a long enough term of hot weather and full sun where you are. Are you keeping them pretty warm? Giving them any supplemental light? Down here we do get into the 40's at night occasionally in winter, and rarely even get frost and nights in the 30's. Mostly during the winter the lows are in the 60's and highs mid-70's to 80's. By April it will be warm and humid, so we have probably 8 or 9 months of warm temperatures and intense sun. I think you'll have to try to give it a climate closer to what it has in the places where it thrives outdoors.

I know in Ontario in summer you do get warm and humid. They will appreciate being outdoors in the full sun for as long as the nights are not below about 50. Also here they get a LOT of water in the summer - it rains like crazy almost every day when the weather is hot. Be sure the drainage is good, though. Our soil is sandy, as it also is in most of Cuba, I believe.

Not sure how long you're going to be able to keep these as potted plants, up there in Canada. If you're successful in growing them, they'll be too big to come indoors fairly soon. Anybody got a commercial greenhouse near you where they would "board" them for the winter? They are nice trees with pretty foliage most of the year, spectacular flowers for a few weeks in the spring (they are in bloom now here) and very messy when they drop all those flowers.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Mar 21, 2016 10:50 AM CST
Welcome to ATP! Welcome!

First question: I don't think your Tabebuia trees are tall enough to branch. If it gets to 10 feet without branching, then you may need to "encourage" it.

Second question: plants grow from the tips: root tips and branch tips. If your trees have better growing conditions now (better light, bigger pot, new potting soil), the growth will be healthier. The entire trunk will slowly thicken in response to more growth on top and more root growth.

Daisy
Name: Robert Bowers
Hamilton, Ontario
RobertJM
Mar 21, 2016 11:09 AM CST
I thought I would do some root and branch pruning to control the size of the Tabebuia and keep them a movable pots. I have a huge, very bright studio, with 16 foot ceilings. I bring a lot of big plants in for the Winter. My window sills have loads of brilliant geraniums the flower all Winter. An big waterproof bin of tall umbrella papyrus sits by my desk. Seeing what happens to plants under my conditions is part of the enjoyment of botanical study but this unbranching Tabebuia has me flummoxed. In Jibacoa, Cuba, the trees are just going into flower. You could probably hear them quietly cheering as rain fell during Obama's visit on the weekend. It had been terribly dry in the weeks before.

So, no branches...?... Sighing! and
Thank You! I tip my hat to you.
robertbowers.net
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Mar 21, 2016 11:19 AM CST
It's not a plant I'm familiar with but one option if you want them to branch early is to remove the growing point (which I assume is what Daisy meant by "encouraging" it). That will typically cause a plant to branch. I hesitate to suggest it since I don't know the plant but I did check one web site that said it was OK to do this with Tabebuia. If you don't want to risk it with all of them, just try one and if it branches then you'd know it works with them.
Name: Robert Bowers
Hamilton, Ontario
RobertJM
Mar 21, 2016 11:33 AM CST
thanks, Sooby, good thought. I tried it. The cut sealed over quickly with a latex sap and a soon a new shoot appeared and grew straight up parallel to the "trunk" below. Maybe some creative splinting is in order but I think I'll wait and get my fig ready to go back outside.

By the way, if Elaine is reading this could you please tell me about that beautiful drooping plant you used for your postings. During all my years visiting the jungles of Tobago I saw only one. Is it an orchid?

Thanks all!!
I tip my hat to you.
robertbowers.net
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 21, 2016 2:33 PM CST
Yes, Robert it is an orchid. Its name is Rcv. David Sander. (used to be a Brassavola) One of my very favorites.
Here's some bigger pictures:

Thumb of 2016-03-21/dyzzypyxxy/49ea86 Thumb of 2016-03-21/dyzzypyxxy/0c9ebb
Thumb of 2016-03-21/dyzzypyxxy/a55cda

Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Robert Bowers
Hamilton, Ontario
RobertJM
Mar 21, 2016 3:06 PM CST
And pictures!! What a fine gift. Very gracious of you! Thanks Elaine, thank you very much.
I will post more instalments of my Tabebuia saga as it unfolds over the Summer.
Robert
I tip my hat to you.
robertbowers.net

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