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smokebush coppiced

13 years ago

Hey folks,

I learned coppicing from you guys last year. Yesterday, I coppiced it leaving only 2" from the ground. Hopefully, I did it at a right time.

I'll keep you posted.

Thanks.

Neil

Comments (52)

  • 13 years ago

    hey ken,

    hahaha! Didn't I put my name? They know me well in our wtrsow forum. I have pictures from last year. I will take pictures this weekend. :)

  • 13 years ago

    mao, i have 2 smokebush and I only coppiced one. Looks like this smokebush I bought 2 years ago were coppiced previously. It's branching from 2 inches from ground. That's why I cut it from that point.

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  • 13 years ago

    ken,

    The smokebush that I coppiced is the one on the right of the huge rock. The one on the left is healthy and thick but the one on right looks sick before.

    {{gwi:200638}}

    Here is another one. I'm standing at my neighbor's property.
    {{gwi:50166}}

    I have better pictures of the smokebush but I couldn't find them.

  • 13 years ago

    I found another one. The one on the left is the unhealthy smokebush(coppiced yesterday).

    {{gwi:200639}}

  • 13 years ago

    Yeah, I would of cut that back too. I imagine it will be much fuller this year. Mine branched about five inches tall, so I cut at six inches. I also pinch the tops as it grows so that it branches more.

    I like how you have lots of texture in your garden. It's something I strive for too.

    mao

  • 13 years ago

    Thanks! :)

    If I get home today where there is still enough light, I will take a picture of the coppiced smokebush.

  • 13 years ago

    Cutting down to 2" is a pretty severe whacking!! Typically, a little bit more -- alright, a LOT more -- than that gets left. I've been coppicing smokebushes and other plants for a long time but I've never taken one down virtually to the ground. Good luck with that :-)

  • 13 years ago

    I don't have any choice. Look at how the lower trunk looks like. Looks like it was already being coppiced before I bought it.

    {{gwi:200640}}

  • 13 years ago

    Gardengal, how far down do you coppice these? Is there a rule of thumb to follow?

  • 13 years ago

    Please post again when growth has started on your REALLY short smoke tree. Depending on how the regrowth does I might do the same NEXT year. Al

  • 13 years ago

    Neil, you could have cut it back at any point. There is not some magical height that determines where coppicing cuts should be made. And I don't see anything to indicate that this was otherwise previously coppiced or cut back hard by the growers. Cotinus often grows this way, with numerous branching low on the stems.....even with multiple stems. Cutting back to only 2 inches is just pretty harsh treatment for this shrub and it may take some time to recover. Or not.....

    anitamo - same as above :-) No magical point to start this process. Generally where is determined by how you want the pruned back shrub to appear and how large you want it to get each season. Cutting back as hard as the photo illustrates will just generate a small and very shrubby plant, provided the plant recovers properly. No real branch development, just a bunch of whippy and rather unsubstantial stems. OTOH, coppicing at 6-8 inches, even as tall as 10-12" will produce a larger shrub with some major branch development. My own cotinus was coppiced at about chest height -- grew to about 8-9' each season and with a similar overall spread.

    Not all plants respond to coppicing in the same manner. Cotinus typically responds to hard pruning/coppicing with the production of numerous leggy, elongated stems that fail to develop any real substance. This is why it is often suggested that the shrub be allowed to develop some sort of woody framework before beginning the coppicing practice.

  • 13 years ago

    First, your garden looks like Eden in a lawn desert. I hope your neighbors develop garden envy and ask you for advice. What about starting a weekend garden club?

    About that haircut.When I cut my c.c. back it was atleast a foot higher than yours It grew one stick that summer. It was horrible looking. Be prepared to grow something this year to hide the stump while crossing your fingers that next year it will begin to grow back.

    Sorry to be a pessimist, I truly hope I'm wrong. I'm positive there's a longer thread somewhere on gardenweb, started by a question from me, on coppicing a smokebush. It also has an interesting discussion about the terms "coppicing" "stooling" and cutting back/pruning.

    I'm looking forward to seeing the plant as it grows out.

    idabean/marie

  • 13 years ago

    I'm going to side with optimism here and say your smokebush will be fine. Sure it's a little lower than I would have gone, but just by an inch or two, and I'm going to call it brave and daring and not a mistake.

    Coppicing, by definition, is cutting a woody plant back to a stump, so you have done it correctly. My only concern would be that whatever was holding it back before will come up again. It doesn't look "sick" as far as disease, if I had to venture a guess it would be a transplanting issue or root girdling from being a container plant.

    I've done butterfly bush, paulownia, forsythia, oaks, willows, catalpa, even magnolias in a similar way without problem. My only casualty was a sumac (uh oh, close smokebush relative)... the main sumac died and suckers took over.

  • 13 years ago

    Great info folks! :)

    The reason I said it was sick is because my other smokebush(non-coppiced) put new growth last year and this year, it did again. The new wood is very obvious. However, with the other smokebush I coppiced, I didn't see any new growth last year and this year too. It's has also few leaves compared to my other one.

    I will keep everyone posted after a month or two. :)

  • 13 years ago

    Look at the roots growing out on the right hand side of the base in the picture taken after you'd coppiced the tree. Those look troubling to me. I'll be interested to see how this bush grows this summer. I'm glad you are going to keep us posted.

  • 13 years ago

    hi peaceofmind,

    About the roots, I already noticed it last year. I was really wondering too why it was exposed. Maybe I should add more dirt there.

    I've been very tempted to dig it and transplant it to a another location which I think is healthy. Looks like the dirt(could be potting mix) that came with it doesn't have enough nutrients(from pot 2+ years ago).

  • 13 years ago

    I wouldn't want to stress it any more by moving it right now. I would add two inches of compost and/or composted manure around it to enrich the soil.

  • 13 years ago

    Got it! Will do. Thanks!

  • 13 years ago

    Not sure when I'll get a chance to buy compost.

    Anyways, the coppiced smokebush is alive. I saw 3 tiny maroon pointy something coming out of the trunk. :)

  • 13 years ago

    Good for it. Glad to know it made it.

    You need to start a compost heap do you don't have to spend money that is better used buying new plants.

    mao

  • 13 years ago

    I know you guys are excited when you see a thread like this. I am especially when someone conducts an experiment. :)

    I'll do it again next year. I love the colors. These pictures doesn't do justice to how beautiful the color really is.

    After 2 months, here she is. We haven't gotten much heat yet. I think once we get continuous warm weather, it will go crazy. I hope :) Sorry about the blurry pictures, I was rushing since it started raining.

    {{gwi:200641}}

    {{gwi:200642}}

  • 13 years ago

    Wow, I just thought of something cool. I will plant my Catalpa behind(in between) these 2 smokebush plants. I will pollard Catalpa but I don't know when it will happen since it's still a seedling. :)

    Looks like the big lime colored leaves of catalpa will contrast really well with the coppiced smokebushes.

  • 13 years ago

    Your garden is gorgeous!

    One thing I don't understand, I see this on HGTV's House Hunters all the time too, why doesn't anyone have a backyard fence? I've never lived anywhere where the backyards aren't all fenced for privacy. I can't imagine doing all that gardening with everyone staring at me.

  • 13 years ago

    buyorsell888 - I am so glad you posed that question! I had assumed it was a US thing and didn't like to ask. We get a lot of posts on GW about problems with neighbours trespassing or damaging people's plants and I always wonder why they don't just have a fence?

  • 13 years ago

    A good question: I loved gardening in my tiny front yard garden in a town where houses were cheek by jowl. It was a very safe neighborhood. I got to talk to my neighbors, I made friends with the harmless man with schizophrenia (very interesting de-coding his conversation)and took regular breaks to check out others' gardening projects.

    On the other hand, when we are eating on the patio, I want screening, not from the neighbors who can't really see us, but from our cars.

    I'd like to start a new thread about "do good fences make good neighbors?, if you don't mind.

    Mt

  • 13 years ago

    Thanks buyorsell888! :)

    To me, I don't mind people seeing us. I also would like my neighbors to enjoy what I have. The neighbor on my left has been asking me plants I can give her and I've given her few last years and are doing well. However, my neighbor on the right put fence 2 years ago.

    If I decide to go with screening/fencing, I will plant english yew taxus baccata. I've visited about 4 gardens last year. I just love the effect of it.

    Maybe they put fence for trespassing purposes, privacy etc.

  • 13 years ago

    Toss some seeds of orange Siberian Wallflower in the area. It's a great companion for the young smoke bush leaves.

    I have a front porch instead of a patio so my favorite garden is the front yard. I find it so much friendlier then the back.

  • 13 years ago

    I don't have seeds of Siberian Wallflower. I will check google to see how it looks like.

    Maybe if you have, we can exchange seeds.

  • 13 years ago

    sending you an e-mail

    mao

  • 13 years ago

    You'll need to e-mail me.

  • 13 years ago

    I'll check it later. The email is blocked here at work.

  • 13 years ago

    v1, thanks so much for posting these photos; this is a first, i believe, on GW. you know what would be terrific is if you started a new thread titled BEFORE AND AFTER COPPICING; PHOTOS and posted 2 photos and a description of what you did, when in the plant's life(i.e. 'it had been planted 3 yrs' or 'it was a new plant this year' etc). May I use (and credit you) your photos on our teaching website? soooo helpful!
    www.cottonarboretum.com/

    best,
    mindy

  • 13 years ago

    Mindy,

    Go ahead and use it. :)

    Thanks!

  • 12 years ago

    She's about 16-18 inches tall now. It grows fast! :)
    I also took a picture of my other non-coppiced smokebush so we can have a reference.

    I love the dark maroon color with blue hue. It is unbelievable!

    I'm going to buy more this coming fall.

    {{gwi:200644}}

    {{gwi:200647}}

    {{gwi:200649}}

    unmodified Smokebush :P
    {{gwi:200651}}

    {{gwi:200653}}

  • 12 years ago

    Indeed! I will post another picture next month.

  • 12 years ago

    Here is another shot I took early yesterday morning around 6am. Sun was in front of me.

    {{gwi:200655}}

  • 12 years ago

    It has become my favorite bush. I purchased one 3 years ago and it has unbelievable color. I rooted some cuttings.

    Your plant is gorgeous.

  • 12 years ago

    Teach me please how to do cuttings. I would like to grow more. Air layering? The stems are soft right now.

  • 12 years ago

    I trim mine every Fall. Last Fall I just pushed the cuttings in a nursery bed that I set up for seedlings or new plants that I have not decided where they are going in the gardens.

    It is a very rich soil area that is in semi-shade and it stays moist. I did not know if the clippings would root I just took a chance since I was cutting the bush back. I did this in Sept. That time of year it is not real hot in my area and we get a lot of rain. This Spring the cuttings started leafing out. I rooted my Black Lace Sambucus in the same spot.

    Maybe you could fill a pot with some good compost and keep it moist until winter and stack leaves around the pot for the winter.

  • 12 years ago

    How long were the cuttings? Did you remove the leaves?

    How does your nursery bed look like? Was it covered with plastic so that it creates like a humidity dome?

  • 12 years ago

    Nope did not do any domes or special effort. Like I said it is our rainy period in Sept. We usually have rain every other day in Sept.

    The cuttings were about 12" each I only put 2 in and both of them rooted. There were a few leaves at the top but most had dropped off.

    I cut mine down every year.

    This is the two cuttings leafed out. I was not expecting them to root I will have to take one out and plant it in the other gardens.

    {{gwi:200658}}

  • 12 years ago

    I love your castor bean plant in the first picture! I love anything with red or dark foliage.

    I had not heard of coppicing before. I don't have any smokebushes, the few I've seen around the neighborhood are not well maintained (too tall, too rangy), so I did not realize they could look that good.

    Can coppicing be done with other shrubs? I have some overgrown purple plum (I forgot the real name) and barberries. I wonder if this technique could rehabilitate them. I'd prefer to remove them (at least the barberries), but they are amid a lot of stuff I'd hate to disturb.

  • 12 years ago

    Thanks linnea56. It was my first time too to coppice smokebush but I have been told about 2 years ago to cut it but I was so scared. It came to a point(this year) that I couldn't stomach her appearance. I had to cut her down.

    Also, Mone and I dug 8 ft Ninebark from her yard. It was too big and wouldn't fit my van. I had to cut some of the branches. When I got home, I cut them down again back to 12 inches. Today, it is producing new branches and are even flowering on those branches. :)

    I'm not sure about other shrubs.

    marquest,

    So all you did is stick the cuttings to the ground right?

  • 12 years ago

    Disregard my question Marquest. You already mentioned your answer on your first post. :)

    I will try your tips this coming fall! :D

  • 12 years ago

    v1rtu0s1ty,

    How tall did your coppiced smokebush get so far and did it remain full looking?

  • 12 years ago

    I'm so sorry CT44. I had a knee surgery on August 3. The whole of July, I was in pain. I was not able to enjoy my garden. I have tons of weeds. :(

    Anyways, now that I am able to walk, the height is like between 4ft and 5ft. I am shock that it still grew that tall. However, I was expecting it to be more bushy. Hmmm, maybe I should have cut it when it reached 10 inches. I only like it to grow around 3 ft.

    I'll take a picture tomorrow. :)

  • 12 years ago

    Chop, chop!

  • 12 years ago

    I want to see this pic too. I almost bought one at the nursery yesterday after reading the two threads about coppicing but restrained myself.

  • 12 years ago

    I've also read you can grow cotinus as a small tree. How would one go about doing that?

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