Landscape Cotoneaster


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Mooresville, NC - USA
Hello all. I have a Rock Cotoneaster in my yard i planted years ago, and i was thinking about doing some pruning on it to see how it might grow as an upright tree. It does come out as a single trunk, but only for about an inch or two, then just dozens of branches going everywhere. :D Should i chop back all the other tangled branches to one going in a good direction for the second secion of the trunk? or is this typeof tree mostly worked from when it is young? Just curious if they chop easily or should i just leave it in the landscape? Thanks for any input.

Alex DeRuiter

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Grand Rapids, MI
From what I think the tree looks like from your description, I would chop it all down to one leader and let it grow out for a little while. You can work shape a tree at any point in its life, young or old, but the rate of growth will depend on how vigorous it is.

In many cases people use older material as it has already been established, like stuff you collect from the wild or old nursery stock. The main disadvantage to working with young material is that it takes longer to establish a good tree (not necessarily in every case), but at the same time you have a lot more control over how the material will develop.

Do you know what type of cotoneaster it is? Some are deviduous and some are evergreen, so knowing what it is would help determine what time of year to chop it. if it's deciduous, you should chop late in winter when it's fully dormant so you'll get a lot of new sprouts from the base and the new leader.

Also, if you have a picture of the tree it will give us a much better idea of what to do with it :)
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