Spirea - repot now (end October) and cut back? Scotland UK

Aiki_Joker

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I see there are quite a few threads here on spirea. This landscape potted specimen has been neglected in this shallow pot probably more than 4 years without repotting and was to be chucked out. I figured I'd take it. Its just lost all of its beautiful red autumn leaves. Not much foliage or flowers in the summer and never watered by hand! Removed about 50% of branches, potting compost is heavily compacted and was full of weeds. Scrubbed mosses, lichens and green algae off the trunk and branches. Looked like the lichens were choking buds out. Not sure how this survived but the branches left after extensive clean up appeared to be alive and full of dormant nodes even under the lichen and algae (had some leaves on them where there were no lichens. Leaves were brushed off during this cleaning operation.

Is it possible to cut this right back to sealed stubs (leaving some nodes) and repot/bare root it in Scotland UK now (End Oct)? Mild air frosts have started here but winter will potentially get down to -8oC (14F) air temp. I plan to put this in an enclosed wooden dog kennel with only a small open door for ventilation over winter under the eaves of the house (air temps should not be below -2C/28F and no wind).

Is it a better idea to shelter it for now then do this work in spring before bud break or will the shrub benefit by being opened up and put in a less compacted soil over the winter? Is respiration significant enough for air flow around the roots to benefit the plant in dormancy? The potting soil is the usual nursery type soil and heavily compacted. I can't wait to have a look at the root mass below ground as it appears to have pushed the plant up over the years. Possibly an interesting base.
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Leo in N E Illinois

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My winters are more harsh than yours, I would normally just shelter the spirea until spring.

But spirea are very winter hardy, (here they are hardy to -35 C) Your winters are mild by comparison. If you will be in Scotland at the right time in spring, wait until spring. Because you are traveling back and forth between Scotland and Oman, if you won't have time in spring, do the repotting now. Spring is best, but I think you could get away with now.
 

Aiki_Joker

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Great advice Leo. Good to get this support and thanks for accounting for my situation! :) Depending what happens Ill do the needful in accordance with your advice and keep this thread updated. Many thanks!
 

Mike Hennigan

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Spirea are TOUGH, in my experience so far. It’s survival to this point is a testament to that. That being said, it has survived to this point, I don’t think you need to worry about it staying in that pot for the winter. Reptting now will add more risk, and it will probably respond more vigorously if you repot it in the spring. You can prune it back some right now if you want to, just not too hard. You can always prune it back harder again when you repot in the spring.
 

Aiki_Joker

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?Nice?! Will try and wait until spring.
 

Aiki_Joker

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What do you think guys? I have some virtuals on the cuts and possible canopy development below. Do you think I can risk cutting this low the first year? I figure it would look better with a lower canopy rather than trying to keep many secondary branches it has? I guess it could change a little when I inspect the roots, leaning to a predominantly domed canopy:

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I'm not very creative here I know. Any advice on an 'outside of the box' design would be appreciated. Could I cut down the number of trunks for example, or successfully change the orientation? This is a long-term project right now. What do you guys think of the 5 year timeline to a basic canopy outline? Roughly achievable with Spirea?
 

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Will do davetree. I'll try not to take too much of this rootball off too I figure? Really want to cut back pretty hard on top though :/ Thought about leaving alot of the fine ramification. I know I will regret it if the guy survives though lol. It's like removing a tight jacket by pulling out the sleeves. Next time it is put on the sleeves will have to be turned the right way out again! Either take it off slowly ensuring the sleeves are not turned inside out or do it when it comes to using the jacket again and waste a year lol ?
 

davetree

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I wouldn’t repot now either. You can remove the moss and use a chopstick or screwdriver to loosen the soil a bit.

The tree in my avatar is a spirea.
 
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Hey Aiki, do you know Robert Porch? He's very acknowledgeable and lives in Glasgow, he can probably tell you best what to do in your climate.
 

Aiki_Joker

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I do indeed tentakelaertje. Legend yes :0) He is a good guy, I just missed a christmas party the other day the club he attends at Lanark had :( He isn't on here no? Will definitely ask him how far he thinks I can go when I get back to UK nearer spring. Problem is I'm away a lot so have to be careful doing too much because poor watering :( Hope he has time to have a look anyway.

Ill keep this thread updated on progress. Many thanks! :)
 
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He's a legend yeah! Ray and Boxie too, you should hang out with them too if you get the chance! Robert's not on here no, but he is on facebook.
If you see them again please send them the regards from Maarten the Dutch clog scum :)
 
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