Managing Portulacaria Afra Branch Thickness

LeftHandLuke

Yamadori
Messages
54
Reaction score
47
Location
Dublin, Ohio
USDA Zone
6a
Question about managing branch thickness on a fairly mature portulacaria afra... Let's say you have a first branch that's half an inch thick near its base, but you have a third branch that's 3/4 of an inch thick near its base. And you want that first branch to be a hearty soul, much thicker than those above him. In this instance, might one defoliate that thicker third branch and otherwise manage it (while watching it closely) to allow the slightly thinner lower branch to catch up and even overtake it?
 

MrWunderful

Omono
Messages
1,345
Reaction score
1,684
Location
SF Bay area
USDA Zone
10b
Question about managing branch thickness on a fairly mature portulacaria afra... Let's say you have a first branch that's half an inch thick near its base, but you have a third branch that's 3/4 of an inch thick near its base. And you want that first branch to be a hearty soul, much thicker than those above him. In this instance, might one defoliate that thicker third branch and otherwise manage it (while watching it closely) to allow the slightly thinner lower branch to catch up and even overtake it?
You could, but I would just remove the branch. Overcoming reverse taper in branching is difficult. Adding more taper to branching can be pretty easy to do with large sacrifice runners, and healthy portys will eventually bud close to where you need it.
 

penumbra

Masterpiece
Messages
3,936
Reaction score
5,407
Location
Front Royal, VA
USDA Zone
6
On P afra I think there is a chance you might lose a branch that is abused ... so to speak.
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
Messages
29,711
Reaction score
40,531
Location
Berwyn, Il
USDA Zone
6.2
Pics!

I think the largest risk is either branch becoming too thick for the trunk during the swap.

Swapping is just a matter of bud counting/health.

If your health is high, via other sacrifice stuff, you can keep the top near naked and get it done quicker.

If your health is ok, it'll take longer.

If you're attempting to get it done while the entire rest of the tree is being styled and pruned, it can be a waste of time.

A lotta high sacrifice stuff will allow you more time before anything gets too thick.

I reckon these will grow new branches, usually that'll make anything look much better, total control.

Sorce
 
Messages
311
Reaction score
369
Location
Hildale, UT, USA
USDA Zone
7a
I reckon these will grow new branches, usually that'll make anything look much better, total control.

I agree with @sorce on this. However, with your short growing season outdoors you might find that growing a new branch out to a final caliper of a half an inch is a couple years' project. If you don't want that, then I would prune the overly large branch back hard to work on taper and movement while the lower branches are allowed to catch up. I am torn on whether you should defoliate. I have a few that I am working on, and defoliating a branch seems to produce a profusion of budding as it appears the plant is directing energy there to recover from being munched on. Just a theory.
 

LeftHandLuke

Yamadori
Messages
54
Reaction score
47
Location
Dublin, Ohio
USDA Zone
6a
Wow... You guys are giving me a lot more advice than I anticipated. Much appreciated! I took some photos but they aren't good at showing the different limb sizes (due to perspective/distance). So, I hope this video gives a better view. My main concerns are:
  • That thicker (third or 4th) branch needs dealt with. You'll see it on the right, just above the one with the guy wire.
  • There's that V trunk-split just under the top canopy that's thicker than the lower branches, and there's some reverse taper. How to deal with that to end up with better taper and a new leader?
  • Happy to turn any trimmed branches into cuttings for new trees, of course, but hoping to keep tree style similar to how it has been established.
  • Not against "hiding" unbalanced branch widths or reverse taper if it's the only way to maintain the style. (Basically, I don't want to chop the top and turn it into something radically different.)
  • Any additional critiques or suggestions appreciated!
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
Messages
29,711
Reaction score
40,531
Location
Berwyn, Il
USDA Zone
6.2
Ah!

That's not even anything I'd worry much about.

Should be an easy swap.

Nice!

Sorce
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
Messages
29,711
Reaction score
40,531
Location
Berwyn, Il
USDA Zone
6.2
Thickness swapping.

Sorce
 

LeftHandLuke

Yamadori
Messages
54
Reaction score
47
Location
Dublin, Ohio
USDA Zone
6a
Thickness swapping.
So you're literally talking about (through defoliating, bud-counting and managing health/sacs) building up the bottom to catch up and overtake the thicker branch(es) above?
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
Messages
29,711
Reaction score
40,531
Location
Berwyn, Il
USDA Zone
6.2
So you're literally talking about (through defoliating, bud-counting and managing health/sacs) building up the bottom to catch up and overtake the thicker branch(es) above?

Isn't that what we're talking about?🤔

Sorce
 

LeftHandLuke

Yamadori
Messages
54
Reaction score
47
Location
Dublin, Ohio
USDA Zone
6a
I'll take that as a yes. We... or, at least myself and one other person... were also considering the merits of pruning the large branch. Appreciate the advice! Yet again you teach me something!👨‍🎓
 

Similar threads

Top Bottom