Will this plant grow tall again?
April 25, 2012 10:38 AM   Subscribe

Have I stunted this plant's upward growth with "reckless" pruning?

We have a china doll (Radermachera sinica) that we've recently transferred outdoors.

I cut off part of the highest stem because it appeared brown, brittle and dead. I was then told that I've stunted the plant because I'd cut off the part of the plant (the highest point, don't know the official term) that would enable it to continue growing upwards. (The goal is for the plant to realize it's full potential of becoming a towering tree. It's currently about 8ft tall.)

I'm pretty sure that this isn't true, and I'd done a lot of research before I started pruning, but I'd like to hear other opinions.

Thank you!
posted by blithecatpie to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
When you cut the leader, the next highest branch will take over. You can tie it in a more upright direction if you wish. The only danger would be to very large trees that may be weak at that point of change. No problem with yours. Pruning can enhance growth.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:53 AM on April 25, 2012

If the leader was "brown brittle and dead" then cutting it off does not change the final outcome at all. The tree would eventually establish a new leader. The only reason to leave it on would be to provide a convenient stalk to tie the leader to, as weapons-grade pointed out.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 10:58 AM on April 25, 2012

Yeah, it's not like a dead branch is going to grow. As long as you pruned it to right above a leaf node, you'll probably have new top growth quickly from the same branch.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:41 AM on April 25, 2012

weapons-grade pandemonium: "When you cut the leader, the next highest branch will take over"

Yeah, like this.
posted by dg at 11:04 PM on April 25, 2012

Thanks for all of your help, everyone!
posted by blithecatpie at 10:09 AM on May 1, 2012

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