Desmodium help, design help.

Forsoothe!

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My 3-D monitors are still inbound, so I can't be very helpful, so maybe just cut back to 4 leafs and C&G from there in planes that accentuate the movement of the trunks. Choosing a front is the first challenge. Use weights on paperclips to guide green stems in useful directions. Needle-like spines will get you every time.
 

Mannythered

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My 3-D monitors are still inbound, so I can't be very helpful, so maybe just cut back to 4 leafs and C&G from there in planes that accentuate the movement of the trunks. Choosing a front is the first challenge. Use weights on paperclips to guide green stems in useful directions. Needle-like spines will get you every time.
Thanks! I feel like the 2nd picture is my front, but I’m having a hard time visualizing the actual tree:-/
 

Paradox

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Thanks! I feel like the 2nd picture is my front, but I’m having a hard time visualizing the actual tree:-/

I agree with the second picture as the front.

You could also start with removing branches that won't work with the style.

Branches pointing straight up (keep around the apex though), straight down and on the inside of a curve and see what is left after that
 

LittleDingus

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What is the history of this tree? Did you purchase it in this state or have you been growing it out for a few years? I ask because understanding how the tree grows will help with design decisions...

My experience with these is short thus far. My experience with plants and trees of various types is long...I'm transferring some general knowledge to how I expect these to grow based on experiences with similar species and growth habits.

I have several desmodium...none nearly as fat as this :( I've only had them for a yearish. I don't claim to have a robust handle on how they grow...but I do have some observations and suspicions based on similar plants and what I've witnessed with mine thus far...and that desmodium are herbacious weeds in the wild here! Unifoliatum is one of the few desmodium that can be grown to have a trunk. I'd guess that's what yours is...I'd guess yours is a 10" pot from Wigerts. Mine were 4" pots from same...

In the right (wrong?) conditions, these things can grow 4" thorns! I have one with thorns so long that the thorns have their own thorns!

20201028_171743.jpg 20201028_172000.jpg

Those thorns grew within weeks of me unboxing these. Under my "normal" conditions, the thorns are much smaller and barely noticeable except by touch :(

They are a weed...not a tree ;) Their growth pattern is long, thin, viney branches. I'm not sure those cut branches are going to heal over any time soon. I'm also not sure the new branches off those ends are going to thicken up to look like natural taper without growing the new leaders out quite long. I could be wrong on that...but that's how mine is growing so far. Assuming that's true...you're going to want to hide those cuts!

As you can see from some of your pictures, the branches have a natural tendency to weep...especially when young. Again, growth habit is a low laying weed and not an upright tree ;) They only get a few feet tall in nature unless they have something to climb.

They are prolific flowerers!

20210704_074850.jpg 20210704_075048.jpg

But, I believe they only flower on new growth. I do NOT know that for a fact and a quick search found no references :( But some of mine have flowered twice and only on the latest growth each time.

Given the curves in your trunk line and the "ugly" cut branch ends that may take a long time to "fade out" and look more natural, you might try a weeping cherry sort of look. Maybe with the canopy cascading off to one side of the trunk?

It's hard to tell from the pictures but I'd consider cutting the first main branch so there's one main trunk line up to a single origin for a canopy. That should give you some freedom to play with planting angles to get the canopy placed over the trunk in an interesting way. Then try and fill in the canopy with weeping branches...keeping in mind that you might need to cut them back hard after flowering to get new growth that will flower. Otherwise, the tree might get really leggy with flowers far from the trunk. I do not know how well they'll heal over large flush cuts. I suspect not well at all :(

Unless you're going to try planting them, I would pluck the seeds as soon as you can...they are a nuisance once they mature! They turn into velcro! They will stick to anything you are wearing! They aren't called "tick weed" or "begger's lice" for nothing ;)
 

Mannythered

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What is the history of this tree? Did you purchase it in this state or have you been growing it out for a few years? I ask because understanding how the tree grows will help with design decisions...

My experience with these is short thus far. My experience with plants and trees of various types is long...I'm transferring some general knowledge to how I expect these to grow based on experiences with similar species and growth habits.

I have several desmodium...none nearly as fat as this :( I've only had them for a yearish. I don't claim to have a robust handle on how they grow...but I do have some observations and suspicions based on similar plants and what I've witnessed with mine thus far...and that desmodium are herbacious weeds in the wild here! Unifoliatum is one of the few desmodium that can be grown to have a trunk. I'd guess that's what yours is...I'd guess yours is a 10" pot from Wigerts. Mine were 4" pots from same...

In the right (wrong?) conditions, these things can grow 4" thorns! I have one with thorns so long that the thorns have their own thorns!

View attachment 386212 View attachment 386211

Those thorns grew within weeks of me unboxing these. Under my "normal" conditions, the thorns are much smaller and barely noticeable except by touch :(

They are a weed...not a tree ;) Their growth pattern is long, thin, viney branches. I'm not sure those cut branches are going to heal over any time soon. I'm also not sure the new branches off those ends are going to thicken up to look like natural taper without growing the new leaders out quite long. I could be wrong on that...but that's how mine is growing so far. Assuming that's true...you're going to want to hide those cuts!

As you can see from some of your pictures, the branches have a natural tendency to weep...especially when young. Again, growth habit is a low laying weed and not an upright tree ;) They only get a few feet tall in nature unless they have something to climb.

They are prolific flowerers!

View attachment 386214 View attachment 386213

But, I believe they only flower on new growth. I do NOT know that for a fact and a quick search found no references :( But some of mine have flowered twice and only on the latest growth each time.

Given the curves in your trunk line and the "ugly" cut branch ends that may take a long time to "fade out" and look more natural, you might try a weeping cherry sort of look. Maybe with the canopy cascading off to one side of the trunk?

It's hard to tell from the pictures but I'd consider cutting the first main branch so there's one main trunk line up to a single origin for a canopy. That should give you some freedom to play with planting angles to get the canopy placed over the trunk in an interesting way. Then try and fill in the canopy with weeping branches...keeping in mind that you might need to cut them back hard after flowering to get new growth that will flower. Otherwise, the tree might get really leggy with flowers far from the trunk. I do not know how well they'll heal over large flush cuts. I suspect not well at all :(

Unless you're going to try planting them, I would pluck the seeds as soon as you can...they are a nuisance once they mature! They turn into velcro! They will stick to anything you are wearing! They aren't called "tick weed" or "begger's lice" for nothing ;)
Thanks! You’re absolutely right. It’s a 10” pot from wigerts. It’s a very recent purchase. Some I’m not too sure about the growing habit yet. The thorns on mine are very small. I agree. Cut that first y shaped branch?
 

LittleDingus

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Thanks! You’re absolutely right. It’s a 10” pot from wigerts. It’s a very recent purchase. Some I’m not too sure about the growing habit yet. The thorns on mine are very small. I agree. Cut that first y shaped branch?

I got 4 of the smallest ones Wigerts had so I could experiment some :)

One I killed straight off...just had to make sure I could :( I believe I trimmed too many roots on a repot.

My daughter took over the care of the one above with the super large thorns.

Of the other 2, I chopped on right away and left one to just grow.

The chopped one was chopped late last fall. It has since put on new growth above the chop...but has also back budded pretty well. Here's the chop today.

20210717_104405.jpg 20210717_104350.jpg

There's not really any sign of callus or bark rolling over yet. Yes, it's been less than a year, but the branch above it is many inches long already too. I think it will eventually heal over as the whole trunk thickens. Since the tendency is long and viney, that could take a while. I should know more in a few months as I think I'm just now getting into the major growth season on these guys.

The second one I've just been letting grow.

20210717_104136.jpg

The long branches at the top are since last fall. They grew about 10" under lights over the winter. The rest since they've been outside since mid spring. The chopped one did not flower. This one flowered only on new growth.

Now that most of the flowering is done and I have seed pods, I'm starting to get fresh growth.

20210717_104159.jpg

Most of the new growth is coming from closer to the ends of the previous growth. This is where forsooth's "trim back to 2 leaves" comes into play. We I to have trimmed new branches back to 2 leaves, the new buds would have had to form back there closer to the trunk and not way out at the branches further from the trunk. I suspect, however, that if you trim too early, you trim off the round of flowers :( The right time is probably just after the flowers start dying off. Then the new growth buds would form back closer to the trunk and you'd get a denser tree.

But, because they grow such long spindly growth, I suspect that will slow/prevent thickening of the trunk...and possibly healing of chop scars. I suspect you need to grow long, dense sacrifice branches to thicken and/or heal.

I've read that some desmodium can grow new growth shoots as long as a meter in a single spurt. This is my first season with one outside so I don't know what unifoliatum will do. I've read that the trunks can thicken fast but that source didn't mention how long branches needed to get to do it. I suspect fairly long given how long mine are and how spindly they still are.

Anyway, my whole point was these are NOT trees. in the typical sense. Do not expect them to grow as such ;) A lot of the techniques may transfer...but some may need to be adjusted.

There are a few you tube videos that I haven't bothered to watch yet that you might look into. Also you might search on "braya". One guys has a yellow braya which I've only been able to find on sale in India that I would be interested in trying. The tiny flowers and leaves on these guys are suited very well to growing in pots :)
 

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