How far can I cut back bush without damaging

bigtexausDecember 1, 2012

We have these purple bushes on both sides of our front door. the one on the left is full and ends below the front windows.. the one of the right is very overgrown (2-3ft) above windows.

how much can I trim down without killing it this year? Will the top green up in sping if I give it a flat top haircut?

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Addtl pic

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 5:19PM
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left side proper height

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 5:20PM
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For the health of the bush it is best not to cut out more than a third per year. That being said, I would cut the height down to a more manageable level(if not the full way down) but I would thin out the thickest/oldest branches for the next couple years to rejuvenate it. just an opinion.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 5:46PM
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Given that pollarding--the drastic, annual cutting back of branches to the main trunk--is employed on many woody plants, chances are that you could not kill or seriously injure this plant by cutting it back. That's not a guaranty ... just a prediction with high probabilities. But Spring is a better time to do serious cutting. Now, it'd be best to limit cutting to just what will solve the window-covering problem. (Hard cutting produces lots of tender replacement growth which is not what you want if potential freezing is just around the corner. Foliage needs some time to "harden off" before frosts.)

In the springtime, everyone knows how foliage seems to suddenly burst out of dormant plants. Just before this happens is a great time to do major pruning. This allows a plant's stored energy to be put to best use ... growth where one wants it. In this case you might decide on the height you like. Determine (from past observation) how much height this plant will add when it takes the "leap" during the growing season. Deduct that amount from the desired height (in anticipation of new growth) and cut it there. If the plant is a rampant grower, this will be a drastic cut. If it's a modest grower, it will be a more reasonable amount. Part of this equation also depends on how many times a year you are willing to cut. Factor in height removed with the number of intervals of pruning. Cutting in ANTICIPATION of growth is my preference; it has some advantages over cutting in REACTION to growth.

Chances are good that this is NOT a dwarf Lorapetalum (if indeed that's what it is) like you need, but instead, one of the big fatties that make nice, small trees. You might consider replacing it with something better suited, or get used to hard pruning or that which is constant and ongoing.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 8:11PM
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Overgrown shrub is one of the named purple Loropetalum varieties which is widely planted in warmer climates and seldom allowed to reach its full growth pattern, 15' x 15'. as the picture posted by Yardvaark illustrates. Sadly, it ends up as a common foundation shrub to forever be butchered/forced into behaving while its only desire is to be set free in a wide open space and allowed to become a colorful evergreen small tree which will also remain branched to the ground and often useful for privacy purposes.

Years of experience with this plant family. Yup, you can trim this particular shrub back any time of the year to any height desired, even flush with the ground. Whack away! It will regrow quickly. Yet, the very fact that it can easily be controlled with a hedge trimmer makes it a useful shrub for those who wish perfectly shaped foundation plantings.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 9:19AM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

My maintenance experience has been the same as the others, you can prune it back hard and it will respout beautifully in spring.
In my mild zone 9 climate I like to cut it back in late summer or very early fall so that it has a chance to leaf out and there is no loss of bloom.

I've also cut in in spring and have loss some bloom but it is so prolific it really didn't matter that much.

I have never seen a true dwarf loropetalum until I attended a horticultural trade show in SE Asia.
The Chinese nurserymen had an astounding variety of loropetalums that would blow your mind. I hope that someday a fraction of them make it to the US nursery trade.
I do understand that Monrovia is offering a true dwarf lorapetalum called Pixie Purple. It is said to reach 1 to 2 feet tall and about 3 feet wide. I am currently brokering in a dozen for a project. I am hoping that they maintain the max. 2 foot height.

attached is a photo of a loropetalum hedge that is about 12 years old. It is kept at a sloping height of 3 to 4 feet tall.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 3:49PM
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deviant, that is the most beautiful planting of loropetalum I have ever seen. Is it a dwarf variety? Not the itsy dwarf you referred to, but still a dwarf?

Lovely home too.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 5:31PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

thanks rosie.
it's not the dwarf variety.
this was planted 12 years ago and back then we only had about 5 or 6 varieties to choose from ( in my area of the country) . I believe this is L. razzleberry.
I planted a lot of L. razzleberry and sizzling pink back then. Since that time there have been a lot more hybrids in the USA to hit the market.
I've been using L. purple majesty these days ( love the deep stable dark purple leaf color ) and I am anxious to try L. purple pixie, reportedly a true dwarf ( we'll see ! )

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 9:01PM
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big tex, would you consider letting this plant grow in a more natural form? Giving it a flat top or making a meatball of it takes away, IMO, from this plant. Hope someone will tell you, better than I can,how to accomplish this.

deviant - my 11 y/o foundation loropetalums have really large branches at the base up to about 3 feet. Keep them around 4 1/2 - 5' - they serve as an effective buffer to my sight line of a totally bland and boring house across from me when I'm at my desk.

big tex - I moved two mature plants from my front, leaving about 7' between them. They are growing into each other even with that spacing. Think you could take out the one closest to your entry on the right side and get growth to that area in a short time next spring. But do you want those windows blocked to that extent? If not, remove and replace with a shrub that will grow lower. HTH, Rosie

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 8:06AM
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