Seven Sons Tree (Heptacodium)

donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)August 23, 2008

I bought a 7 Sons tree this past spring. It's growing like a weed in a five gallon pot, and if I didn't know better, I'd look at it and say it IS a weed: long, low, rangy branches going off in all directions. And all starting at the same point about 3 or 4 inches off the ground. At first, there didn't seem to even be a leader, but a tall vertical shoot has developed, so I am hopeful. I don't care if it turns out to be multi stemmed or single, but I do want it to look like a tree. I have seen some beautiful pics on the web, so I know there is hope for this gangly kid. My question: Should I begin training it now? And if so, how? Or, should I let it grow on a few years before I begin to work to shape it, and if so, how long? Any other tips on pruning this baby will be appreciated.

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

You won't get a leader but you could produce a faux tree with a single stem by pruning out smaller stems and leaving one big one, after it grows large enough for this treatment (which has been called arborizing when used on other shrubs). If it just makes multiple stems of similar diameter, without a potential "tree" trunk never developing probably better to just let it remain that way rather than limbing it up. It's a "cane grower" possibly related to abelias.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 6:05PM
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EGO45(6bCT)

Donna, below is the link to the current thread where I was sharing my experience

Here is a link that might be useful: Something about heptacodium

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 11:39PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Heptacodium is a wild growing plant in its first few years. Mine is in its third year (it came to me 6 inches tall) and I am slowly training it into a multistemmed small tree/large shrub. It seems to want to grow in all directions, so in spring I pruned lower branches and tied some to straighten them. I'll do some more next spring. I expect by next year this time, it will be better shaped.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 6:26AM
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WendyB(5A/MA)

agreeed. it took mine a few years to settle down. Those bottom canes do stop coming up after awhile. Its nicely shaped now but I have it in too much shade and its leaning toward the sun. I love the bark on it.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 7:57AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Thanks, everyone! I must have read the Newbie tip before it turned into a Heptacodium discussion. I will certainly keep my eye on it. It sounds to me like this is going to be one of those plants that I will have to watch and think through as I go.

I do alot of arborizing on Crepe Myrtles, Loropetalums, and any number of the fast growing shrubs that are so common in the south. The thing that makes this one so different is all those long whips with leaves but no branches whatsoever. Maybe it is because it is young. It was just a few inches tall this past spring when I received it from Forest Farm.

If you cut a branch at mid length, does that cause it to branch? I am extremely cautious about ever doing that unless I am willing to sacrifice a limb altogether.

Also, for those of you who staked some limbs, do I understand correctly that you chose one, staked it and basically trained it to become a leader? I grow my Hydrangea Paniculatas as shrubs, so do not know the process that was referred to.

Thanks for the encouragement, y'all. I will watch and wait, and be all ears as the discussions continue.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 3:55PM
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EGO45(6bCT)

'...do I understand correctly that you chose one, staked it and basically trained it to become a leader?'

Yes, and as it grows (3 to 5' a year!) you have to limb it up. At some point your leader will start forking and you have to decide to keep it that way or cut one of the two of the 'splits'.

'If you cut a branch at mid length, does that cause it to branch? '
Yes, but not necessary from the point of cut. It could start branching from any unpredictable point along the remaining lenght.

'I am extremely cautious about ever doing that unless I am willing to sacrifice a limb altogether. '

C'mon, this thing is wild and you'll have zillions of new stems/branches all over the place regardless of your will :-)
If I remember I'll try to post picture of mine in spring when it will be leafless, before and after spring pruning-clean up.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 6:58PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Thanks, ego. There's no info like first hand experience.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 10:07AM
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