boxwood-new growth is weepy

sfhellwig

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This was a larger piece, a pre-bonsai if you will. Last year I did a little branch selection and teased the roots a little before putting into a bigger pot. It responded well by giving a nice flush of growth over the entire plant. However all this new growth is very soft and I found it laying over one day. I was afraid I had it in too much sun or perhaps was under-watered so I moved it to a shadier location. It doesn't seem as weepy but it sure hasn't "hardened" up. I was really starting to wonder what I was doing wrong until I saw the same thing on a few landscape boxes at the mall today. As far as I could tell they were microphylla like mine and were in a shady location. Is this just normal and I haven't had a flush like this before? Or is this something to be addressed?
 

rockm

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New boxwood foliage is soft and will flop over. Takes a month or more to ripen --for the stem to turn woody. This can take longer.

You can trim it off, but in doing so you remove any chance for ramification of the particular shoot--boxwood, and a lot of other woody plants will not produce backbudding from soft stems. So, if you're only growing this on to thicken the stems, branches and trunk leave it alone. Trim it if you're trying to keep the plant "in bounds" for bonsai design.
 

sfhellwig

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So it's not a sign of under watering or too much sun. It just feels wrong to let it have any direct sun when it's laying over. I am growing this on but needed to thin it a little more. Is is OK to remove a few branches or should I wait for it to harden off? Not planning drastic work, just looking for a single leader tree shape.
 

rockm

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It depends on WHAT you're growing on. If you're growing to thicken the trunk, pruning anything will slow that down. If you're growing other nearby branches on , you can selectively thin those areas that don't require growth.

Placing the tree in the shade will produce floppier and looser growth. I keep my boxwood in full sun for three quarters of the day--even with floppy foilage. The sun tightens it up more quickly than putting it in the shade.
 

sfhellwig

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Ah, that is good to know about more sun hardening them up faster. I was doing the exact opposite of what I should.

I need to find the exact line I want to go, so some removal is necessary just to get a design chosen. As for growing on I would just be trying to thicken the form once chosen and add a little girth, like most projects. It is in a large and relatively deep grow flat for the next few years. My primary concern is that boxes are not know for thick trunks, even with age. I have been advised that keeping a single leader will aid in trunk development. I got really lucky with this piece at the garden center. It already has a decent tree shape, a fair trunk with a couple of thick roots. And now it produced a good flush of new growth to advance it's size. If I don't cut off a wrong limb, this one has moved forward on the list of "look at this, don't look at that.":D
 

rockm

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"My primary concern is that boxes are not know for thick trunks, even with age. "

Simply not true. Boxwood can grow to enormous proportions and have trunks more than three feet across. It all depends on how much time you have--or have access to-- in the form of old mature boxwood...

http://www.gunstonhall.org/grounds/landscape_features/boxwood_allee_lg.jpg

I've found that working with young and immature boxwood is boring and doesn't produce anything much, even in 15 years of growing. It doesn't grow fast enough to thicken appreciably in a container.

However, I have found that using already mature stock can produce excellent bonsai in half that time. Finding great stock is more than half the battle with boxwood bonsai. It is all around in old landscapes and it's being dug out constantly by gardeners. Might be worth looking around in old neighborhoods near you for hedges being replaced, or old plants that are being neglected...
 

sfhellwig

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Well I guess my statement was relative to individuals growing the plant themselves. I actually have this piece because the garden center let it go for cheap saying "it might have come out of someone's yard." So the ever important score makes the really nice trees possible. I'm starting to realize that the smaller ones I have need to be rethought. Either small and begin branch ramification or get them in the ground. My initial statement was also based on something I read that involved field grown boxes barely reaching 3" diameter even after 30 years. But your link definitely trumps that.:p
 
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