Energy Balancing in Shrubs

Michael Hagedorn

Being basally dominant, many shrubs are going to do anything they can to kill off older parts and grow shoots from below.

The more geriatric the shrub, the greater the danger of killing off exactly what we want to preserve—the older, trunky bits. They don’t like to make trunks much, with the exception of Satsuki Azaleas, though even those will happily slaughter their tops in preference to the lower branches.

The following is an example of one way to manage basal dominance in an older shrub.

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Older Chojubai growing good shoots off the lower branches but little off the trunk top, a common situation. This is roughly the opposite of a tree, which wants to lose the lower branches and preserve the leader. 

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In this situation, trim the lower shoots mid-season, usually in June or July,. Leave the shoots on the main trunk untouched, until fall, or maybe until the…

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