Leucophyllum frutescens - pruning needed, but which way?

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MikeHardman

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Leucophyllum frutescens - pruning needed, but which way?
« on: May 05, 2016, 07:30:40 AM »
My Leucophyllum frutescens has done very well the last four years. It has grown into a natural ball shape, complementary with other grey and green ball shaped plants in various lines of view, eg. the Chamaerops humilis adjacent. When in full flower it is spectacular, and alive with bees.

Trouble is, it is now too tall (1.5m). It is imposing on the view over the wall to the hills and sea, it is taking up space at ground level, and (minor point) the stonework of the wall is being discoloured.

The middle point may seem irrelevant, seeing as it is just gravel and a ring of rocks beneath, but one of my options is to prune to lift the crown and reveal the character in the rocks and in the 'trunk'. With an olive tree further along, I have raised the crown, and the base of the canopy is sufficiently high above the wall that the view is acceptably preserved. But with the Leucophyllum, it is not tall enough to do that.  ...At least not yet. How tall can it grow?

I don't want to topiarize it. Yes, that might maintain the ball shape, but it has several negatives, not least being that it simply does not suit the subject, IMO. Pruning back sympathetically to retain the ball shape without shearing would be a possibility.

Bearing in mind I would like to:
- reduce its imposition on the distant view
- retain the spectacle of the blossom
- keep it complementary to adjacent plants in terms of form and colour
- expose the character in the underlying rocks and 'trunk'
- not have it break in high winds
- adopt a pruning and development strategy that I can stick with for many years
- be able to use prunings as cuttings
(or as many of those as possible)
How do you think I should prune it?
When and how often?

Thanks for your consideration, and hopefully experience,
Mike
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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Fleur Pavlidis

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Re: Leucophyllum frutescens - pruning needed, but which way?
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2017, 11:06:16 PM »
I've just come across this post via googling how to prune Leucophyllum frutescens! How did you go about pruning in the end? I found a site suggesting that this shrub can be pruned severely - up to two thirds of the growth - once a year in February/ March. That means I've missed the chance to tidy up my leggy specimens for yet another year. Warning: don't plant Leucophyllum under trees. They totally lose the nice rounded shape shown in Mike's photos.
MGS member, Greece. I garden in Attica, Greece and Mt Goulinas (450m) Central Greece

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MikeHardman

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Re: Leucophyllum frutescens - pruning needed, but which way?
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2017, 08:17:04 AM »
Hi Fleur,

I opted for a careful reduction in volume, reducing height and width and lifting the crown, taking care to leave a pleasing multi-trunked structure on show at the bottom.
I think it works well.
These photos show it immediately after pruning in February this year, and when starting to leaf-out in April.

I, too, get the feeling it will withstand hard pruning.

I may try using new basal shoots as cuttings (my attempts with top-growth cuttings have failed).

Mike
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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Fleur Pavlidis

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Re: Leucophyllum frutescens - pruning needed, but which way?
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2017, 12:00:15 PM »
That's a bit ironic, Mike. I want to prune mine so that they will look lush and bushy like yours was, and you've pruned yours to be open and leggy like mine is!
MGS member, Greece. I garden in Attica, Greece and Mt Goulinas (450m) Central Greece

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MikeHardman

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Re: Leucophyllum frutescens - pruning needed, but which way?
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2017, 02:03:58 PM »
 :)
Mine is already bushing-up again (and has had a few flowers).
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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MikeHardman

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Re: Leucophyllum frutescens - pruning needed, but which way?
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2017, 09:43:46 PM »
And now, 6 months after the pruning, it has recovered very well and had a super flowering.

The cuttings from the prunings did not make it.
But I have yet to trim the basal shoots and try those as cuttings (I am tempted to try layering).

Mike
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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Fermi

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Re: Leucophyllum frutescens - pruning needed, but which way?
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2017, 09:48:45 AM »
Good to see how well it is doing, Mike!
We were in Queensland 2 months ago to see if we could track down a grower.
The Wholesale Nursery wouldn't sell to us and suggested we see if a "local" nursery or a landscape gardener could order it for us. We saw one nursery where they used to have it but said it looks yellow during the winter and they probably wouldn't get it again!
If you ever get seed on yours, please let me know!
cheers
fermi
Mr F de Sousa, Central Victoria, Australia
member of AGS, SRGC, NARGS
working as a physio to support my gardening habit!

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MikeHardman

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Re: Leucophyllum frutescens - pruning needed, but which way?
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2017, 10:17:31 AM »
Seed?!
OK, Fermi, though I've never seen any sign of it.

Mike
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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Alisdair

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Re: Leucophyllum frutescens - pruning needed, but which way?
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2017, 12:01:05 PM »
Mike, I envy you having such a lovely specimen. We planted one in Greece over ten years ago, and it's scarcely grown since, never flowers. It's never watered, and I think it may just be too hot and dry for it.
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

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MikeHardman

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Re: Leucophyllum frutescens - pruning needed, but which way?
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2017, 12:09:53 PM »
Sorry to hear that, Alisdair.
I, too, have plants that won't 'do' for me, despite flourishing for others (eg. Sedum 'Campfire'). [MH correction 30aug17: Crassula not Sedum; thanks JohnJ]

My texas ranger grows fairly close to some Cupressus sempervirens, which severely hinder many plants. I am very grateful that it does well in this spot. It was bought as a small container plant, and has made steady progress ever since it was planted out.

Mike
« Last Edit: August 31, 2017, 02:02:41 PM by MikeHardman »
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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John J

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Re: Leucophyllum frutescens - pruning needed, but which way?
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2017, 03:34:57 PM »
Our last village administration commissioned 50 plant containers to be dotted around the streets in order to 'brighten them up'. They were planted with such things as pelargoniums and poinsettias, all of which fairly quickly expired. The new administration asked for advice regarding their replanting. I was tempted to suggest they be consigned to a crusher and used as hardcore in some road improvement scheme but my better nature prevailed and I agreed to come up with suitable replacements. These were planted up in March of this year and included several Leucophyllum. The photos below are of just 2 of the containers and were taken this afternoon.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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MikeHardman

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Re: Leucophyllum frutescens - pruning needed, but which way?
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2017, 04:30:49 PM »
Wonderful job, John!
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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Fleur Pavlidis

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Re: Leucophyllum frutescens - pruning needed, but which way?
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2017, 06:43:53 PM »
I've moved the discussion about Crassula to its own thread.
MGS member, Greece. I garden in Attica, Greece and Mt Goulinas (450m) Central Greece