Dead Hopseed Bushes

chuckie63April 20, 2012

I live in Sunset Zone 23 of Southern CA. I had several thriving Purple Hopseed bushes in the backyard--all about 8 years old. 4 of them have died since I had a renter move in--he (unbeknownst to me) pruned them all up like a tree. Did this kind of pruning make the bushes die, since this is not their natual growth habit?? I don't know what else to think. I'm quite certain he was not over watering. I have had problem with scale in the past, but don't see evidence of that or any other disease. Just dried up and dead.

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Sara Malone Zone 9b

I'm in Sonoma County and have dozens of these (two long hedges), assuming you mean Dodonea viscosa. Pruning will not hurt these plants at all - you can hack away, shear, standardize, espalier, etc at will. They are pretty bullet proof here, with the exception of frost damage, which is rare here and I would think unknown where you are, and not keeping them irrigated as they are getting established, when they indeed, dry up and die. I irrigate them in the summer as I find that they (like so many 'drought tolerant' plants) do better with a bit of water. Is there any chance that yours were receiving summer irrigation that suddenly stopped? That could account for it, but why just the four and not all? Sunset says that they can take regular water, fyi. Other thing to check is gophers if you have them there. Usually they leave enough soil disturbance so that they are immediately suspect, but not always. If possible you could dig one up and see what the roots look like.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 1:54PM
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Just wondering about your posts. I have some dodoneas that are about 6 years old. They got really big and I cut them back hard last year. Three (of the four) died. I really like them, so I bought some new plants, but I also think that the hard pruning killed them. I do irrigate them in summer, as it is really hot and dry here (Walnut Creek), and last year the deer ate them for the first time, but I was surprised that 3 of them did not make them through the winter. I think that I pruned them too hard and I will be more careful from now on.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 9:46PM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

I have pruned like crazy on some and had no problems. They can be standardized and sheared and per Sunset they can be espaliered and trained into a small tree. Neither the East Bay MUD book on plants for dry summers or the Am Hort pruning and training book mention any problems with pruning them; both suggest similar treatment - ok for hedging, shaping, etc etc. (Am Hort sez late summer or early spring for pruning). They are frost tender - really don't want to go below 32 for more than a brief period - you should be ok in zone 15, but if you had a hard freeze that could have done the second batch in, especially if they didn't get enough water. I think that the 'secret' to these is that people think that they are drought tolerant and then don't water them and they really need some summer water. The biggest ones that I have ever seen are at SFBG, despite their being native to Arizona and Hawaii and thus suggesting hot climates.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 10:22AM
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