Taming Your Shrub into a Tree

“I have a China Rose tree and 2 tree hydrangea.  How do you prune them from bushes to small trees?~K.”


–Prune the shrub to form the tree when the shrub is 1-year-old for the easiest job. Older shrubs can also be pruned into trees, but the process is more difficult and it might take several years before your shrub takes the form of a tree.  Keep in mind how large the shrub is supposed to get too — just because you trim it to look like a tree doesn’t mean that it will grow taller to accommodate the elongated shape.

–Choose one to three of the strongest, healthiest shoots or vertical branches on the shrub to use to form the trunk of your tree. Most commonly people choose to use one tree trunk, but it is sometimes done with two or three. Cut off all vertical branches other than the ones that you decided to keep.

–Start at the bottom of the shrub and work your way up, removing all horizontal branches along the trunk. Continue removing horizontal branches until you have cut off all branches that are 4 feet or closer to the ground.

–Step back to look at your shrub and the tree shape that you have formed. Determine if your tree needs a longer trunk. If it does, continue cutting off another layer of horizontal branches, working your way up the trunk until you have the desired effect.

–Sheer or prune the top of your shrub to form the desired shape for the top of your tree. Step back to look at your finished product again and then make any final cuts that are needed.



© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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