China Doll need advice please

christine1950July 31, 2013

I purchased this on 7-7-13 and this beauty has already doubled in size, my question is Does it look leggy? I keep her in a north facing window and I've kept the soil moist but not wet. Let me know what you think. Thanks

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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Looking down from the top like that, it looks good to me. The new leaves on yours look a bit pale, but who knows with a pic, looks like the flash went off.

Mine sits outside, in the sun from about 10 AM until 4-5 PM, so if you have a spot with more light, it wouldn't hurt. If you suddenly put it outside like that though, most or all of the exiting foliage would probably burn, then new would grow. That's what mine did when I put it out, but I expected it, didn't bother me. If you want to make a large increase in light and don't want that to happen, doing it slowly would be the way to go. It didn't take long to get the little one I got my Mom into being outside in some mid-day exposure also, but without the defoliation, just nice dark green leaves.

I agree, these are beautiful trees!!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 10:48AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Here's a secret about China Doll (Radermachera sinica) that hardly anyone knows....they are one of the MANY plants treated with chemical growth regulators at the growers in order to slow down the growth rate and to keep the plants compact.

When we get them home, they soon outgrow those chemical hormones and begin growing like gangbusters and "stretching". The treatments reduce the length from node to node, called the internode, preventing that legginess that is really part of their natural growth habit. 'Leggy ' is their middle name.

You can cut the plant back periodically to encourage shrubbiness, and give it enough light. By the way, you DO know how big these things get, right? :-0

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 3:03PM
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Thank you purple & rhizo, I have moved her out onto my balcony where she will get a few hours of some direct sun, shaded by the trees. I have read up on her and I read that outdoors in the ground they can grow up to 30+ feet. I know I will be looking forward to her growing upwards to 3-4 ft pottted, Is that right? I love her, shes so different from anything I have ever grown before, I'm so glad I rescued her from walmart for $1.39 What should I plan for her come winter?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 3:18PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Yes, that's why I threw the word tree out there. Mine looks more like a Dracaena after having it a couple years, whatever growth regulator has worn off. It's a couple feet tall with a hard, woody trunk and leaves at the top (of each trunk.) I've beheaded the big one (there are actually 3 in the pot) a few times to keep it more stout, and don't plan to let it get much taller, or let the other two increase in height either, proportionately. I like the 3-level effect.

I think it would get as tall as you will let it, so $1.39 sounds like a great price for a plant to play with and learn how to keep a captive tree from getting too big to fit in your house for winters. Also think you happened to get an 'easy one' so also great for experimentation/learning.

Starting today, you could pinch out the growth tip(s.) That would cause the tip to bifurcate. Twin tips usually grow more slowly, and definitely provide more leaf mass. Once those two are big enough to pinch out, you can turn that into 4 tips. Up to you to dictate and control how the tree grows. If there are 3 trunks, you could braid them, or espalier 2 of them sideways.

For winter, a couple hours or more of direct sun from an E, W, S window should be fine. Which way to the balcony? Sliding glass door? Probably a great spot by that if your curtain/privacy situation goes along with it.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 4:14PM
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Thank you so much for all that info purple, I've learned alot... we'll see what I can do now to keep it alive & well LOL

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 4:51PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7 direct sun after it's been languishing in a low light situation....just a reminder.

Your containerized China Doll will outgrow your house....unless you become pretty consistant with the pruning. That's the only way to KEEP it at four feet, not 10, 20, or 30.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 5:29PM
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I've moved her back inside to the original spot on my plant stand by the window and I did pinch 3 of the branches.Thank you both so much. I'm taking a trip up to Walmart tomorrow to see what I can rescue, maybe they will have another China Doll. Have a Happy Day

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 9:52AM
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