Beauty bush...looking ridiculous

lilgreenfrogJuly 27, 2008

Hi, all!

I have a healthy beauty bush that's 3 years old. Its lovely when in bloom, but I need help pruning it, as it looks really strange. Several of its lower branches are almost flat to the ground, while in the center it has put up multiple new branches that stick STRAIGHT up. Some of them even branch into V's at the top, and they are sparsely leafed. It looks like someone stuck a bunch of 4 foot tall antennas in the middle of it.

My mom grew these, and hers always had a nice arching habit...how do I cultivate that??

Thanks,

Lara

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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Do you have Callicarpa bodnieri or C. dichotoma?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 6:42AM
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lilgreenfrog

Hi! Its actually a beauty bush, not a beautyberry. I believe its Kolkwitzia amabilis, though I don't know the exact variety.

Thanks,
Lara

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 12:52PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

My inclination would be to say that it spent the past 3 years growing roots and not putting out a whole lot of top growth, even though it flowered well. Now that it has good roots, it is growing out the top. I don't grow this shrub, but from reading, Kolkwizias are vase-shaped, arching plants, up to 12' under ideal conditions. I would say that yours is trying, this year, to grow the vase-shaped, arching branches. The lower, almost prostrate branches, that you have been seeing, and thought were the mature shape, will fade out, or can be trimmed out next spring or even now, if you think it won't throw out a bunch of new growth. If it gets too big for the area you have it in, you can, annually, take out a third of the oldest branches after it finishes flowering in the late spring/early summer.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 2:31PM
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lilgreenfrog

Dibbit;

Thanks! That makes sense. I was rather horrified when I found other posts (after looking up Kolkwizia) that it could get that big. My mom grew them here in town, and hers were 10 years old and at most 4 feet tall. So, I may do a little pruning, but I'll be patient and let him grow into a big boy bush!

Best,
Lara

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 2:40PM
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leslies(z7 No VA)

lilgreen:

I have a kolkwitzia, too, and it sprouts branches at all kinds of wacked out angles. Pruning seems to make that even worse! However, I think that your shrub is young and over time the branches will fill in. Mine is mature, but is about 6 x 6 (no way a 12-footer) and no how is it vase-shaped. It is actually nicely rounded and evenly filled in, with some branches that are prostrate along the ground. This is in spite of the fact that, when I moved into this house, the kolkwitzia was buried under a wild cherry that was growing smack in the middle of it! A friend also has one thast's a good bit larger than mine, but is also round. I don't think she prunes hers; I only pruned mine when I cut out the cherry - three years ago.

Give it a little more time. It's a pretty nice plant.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 5:25PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Gawky because it's young. When larger and consisting of hundreds of such shoots their structure will not stand out so much. The willowy growth habit will then appear graceful instead.

The shrub will not have been concentrating on root growth and then shifted to more top growth, like with adjusting a dial so there is more bass and less treble. Both parts of the plant will have been growing about the same the whole time, except for an increase in volume as the plant grows larger and more vigorous.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 10:21PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

I have to agree that any pruning to control height makes things MUCH WORSE. The pruned branch grows new shoots in every direction. I would trim the prostrate branches off at the ground, leave the new stuff alone. Mine did fill out and got more arching after a couple years. I then went in and took out the mis-shapen branches I had pruned earlier.

It was quite beautiful this spring with all the flowers, it looked like a pink fountain for quite a while. Mine is about 7ft tall, left natural. The birds like it, sure is full of them. Any pruning in the future will be removing some center branches at the ground level. There just is no shaping with this bush.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 11:51PM
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pops_2008(5b)

We have about 6 of the Beauty bushes. They were here when we moved into the residence back in 1968. We have pruned them severely twice in the past 40 years. They top out about 25 feet tall or more. Nothing matches them for floral effect display at the height of their blooming. Dirr doesn't care for them the rest of the season but we sure do. They are in the border of a 1.6 acre residential lot and the space they need is provided here. Sure, they are leggy at the bottom and rather uninteresting most of the year but make great screen and back drop for the rest of the residential garden. They are number two for us--after the viburnums.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 12:14PM
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