kolkwitzia dream catcher is very short. is it ok?

harvwald(z5 IL)October 27, 2012

Last year in late fall, I planted a Kolkwitzia dream catcher. This year the branches grew somewhat and the leaves grew, however the stem is only a couple of inches high! Is it OK? I did not feed it because I read you shouldn't feed a shrub in its first year. Mistake? Thanks for your help.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

IMHO.. NEVER feed a shrub ... unless a soil test indicates something is lacking from the soil.. so no.. that was not a mistake ...

you have provided no real information.. other than it did not perform to your expectation .. often such is impossible to achieve ... especially on what sounds like a VERY SMALL plant to start with ...

frankly.. in the first year after transplant.. all i hope for.. is that they live.. and i live under the presumption.. that if they do.. they are growing a root mass sufficient to achieve my expectations the NEXT year .. or at least getting closer ..

soooo .. relax.. it alive.. lets see what happens next year ...


ps: if you have any kind of fertile soil.. a shrub.. once it gets that root mass going.. will 'get' all it needs from the native soil ... but that is not to say A LITTLE of this or that.. would harm it.. i just think its a waste of money.. they are not children.. which need to be fed.. clothes.. educated.. etc ...

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 7:38AM
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harvwald(z5 IL)

Thanks for your post. The dream catcher was very small when I planted it a year ago, so maybe it is just taking a bit of time to develop strong roots, etc. What struck me were how wide the branches were, but how short the stem. Our soil is pretty dense clay, so I have to think that could be an issue, too. Still, other things manage to grow there. I won't worry about feeding the shrub, as you said. I am new to shrub-growing and guess I need to do more reading.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 4:29PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

You could do some mulching with shredded fall leaves, get the worms to work that available organic material into the clay for you.
My Kowaltzia too about 2years to settle in and bloom WELL on the third spring after planting. Not sure of my type, no name on it anymore, but I think an old variety because of size. It was a larger plant to start, maybe waist high in the pot. It did send up new shoots, gained a LOT in height in my waiting time. Mine doesn't like being pruned much, sends off all kinds of odd side shoots when I removed the branch tips. Likes to be growing tall and gracefully bending a little at the top. I ended up pruing those distorted branches from original growth off to the ground. Now most of the growth is straighter upward, natural branching is much more attractive.

This is a very nice shrub for me, great flowering, lasts a couple weeks. Looks like a fountain of pink. Not a small shrub, but that is OK. Even with no flowers it has a nice shape, and has a short season of fall color on the leaves.

I throw in shredded leaves when planting in fall, because my clay dirt can get real solid. These are Oak leaves, which hold their shape well even soaking wet. Mulching with the leaves does seem to get my dirt "softer" as the worms come to eat leaves as time goes along. Clay mixed with organic things, makes great garden beds. Good luck with your shrub, hope it does as well for you as mine has.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 4:44PM
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stefanb8(z7 MD)

This is the sort of plant that will at first throw semi-prostrate stems that only support themselves poorly--after a while, the plant will start sending up stronger, more vertical shoots. Very likely that is the problem in this case. Don't worry, it will come around in time, faster if its nutritional needs are being met. If you are hesitant to fertilize because of a lack of evidence of deficiency, then by all means do a soil test; if nitrogen in particular is lacking, and it often is, then an appropriate fertilizer is in order. Plants do need nutrients, and it is sometimes necessary to supplement them.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 8:17PM
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harvwald(z5 IL)

Appreciate the previous posts. Lots of shredded leaves around now -- I'll make sure the kolkwitzia gets some. A soil test is a good idea, too. Although the plant is very short, it has beautiful red leaves right now, which I'm enjoying.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 12:36PM
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harvwald(z5 IL)

Another year has gone by and the vertical branches are getting longer, but the plant is still VERY short. Maybe 6 inches tall! It's beginning to look like some kind of exotic ground cover rather than a shrub :-) I poked around the area -- it is very heavy clay. I'm wondering if that has created a problem for its roots. On the other hand, the vertical branches are numerous and look quite healthy. Any more opinions on this?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 10:31PM
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