Monday, May 25, 2015

Did I commit Cotinus murder?

You've heard the term "Crepe Murder" of course, those poor (beautiful) trees butchered by people who have some strange need to control their plants. Well, I wonder if I've gone and committed Cotinus murser...

I should have taken a before photo, I think part of me realized if I'd stopped to document I might have questioned the action I was about to take. My Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' was doing a fabulous poodle impersonation (long thin branches, big heavy cluster of leaves at the end). I'd honestly not really stopped to look at it in awhile, too busy working on other things. When I did I realized I'd (possibly) missed my chance to prune it back. So of course I consulted Facebook, or rather a Portland Gardeners Group on FB. Most said to go for it, it was a little late but not too late. That was two and a half weeks ago. I left this bit of foliage that fell below the chop-mark. It looked ridiculous but at least there was some sign of life...

I went out to photograph the stumps so I could share them here and have you all tell me if, indeed, it was murder. But now I have hope. There was a purple nubbin...

A few in fact...

I hadn't noticed them when I was standing on the sidewalk, looking at the sticks, and hoping to see something. Maybe it lives? Maybe it will leaf out again, on shorter, compacter (is that even a word?) branches? To be continued...

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

33 comments:

  1. I'm sure it will leaf out again, and have a much nicer form. Those purple nubbins should bring you hope.

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  2. In my experience , Cotinus is immortal. I coppice mine every year-with mixed results. You never know quite what the outcome will be. this year I seem to be having octopus flop. Cotinus as a ground cover ?

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    1. Yikes, well I suppose those leaves would be just as lovely on the ground - as long as they're not smothering anything.

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  3. Yay! Well done. That looks promising.

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  4. I cut mine back all the time, they can take it. You might want to pinch out the tips of the branches you left as well, so the coming new growth has a chance to catch up to it and form a fuller bush. Sue

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  5. Hummmm, this is one of your blogs I will want to keep up with. I have done the same thing a couple of times with not so good results. I think in my case the plants are not getting enough sun. It looks like yours will be OK though. I personally wouldn't cut mine back every year but I will look forward to what other folks have to say either way.

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    1. This will be the first time I've done a cut back like this. This plant has been in the ground since 2011 but just finally took off last summer.

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  6. My neighbor across the street cuts back his Cotinus every year by one-third or more (to accommodate the wicked witch up the street) and it comes back each year. Yours isn't nearly as mature as that tree so I expect it will both come back and achieve a gracious shape. (I'm afraid the latter cannot be said for the one across the street.)

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    1. Yikes, she sure has a lot influence on your neighborhood doesn't she? I hope you all have a bucket of water at the ready.

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  7. I think it will leaf out again without any problems. It does look a bit bizarre right now, but lets hope it will bring out shorter and "compacter" branches as you say, hehehe.

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    1. Very bizarre! I was sure to let Andrew know that I was the one responsible for the hack-job. It looks so bad I was afraid he'd think someone did it maliciously.

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  8. It's still early in the season so I think the advice you received is fine. And all those buds showing seems to indicate that it will be alright. Looking forward to your update!

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  9. I'm sure it'll be OK. At least yours has beautiful coloration. I love cotinus to death, but mine looks eternally sickly--sickly reddish-green instead of purple. I've pretty much decided to give up on it. Our backyard doesn't seem to get enough sun for it to turn dark purple. I just saw stunning specimens at the Wave Garden in Point Richmond. Oh to live on the coast...

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    1. I second that statement, and not just for Cotinus. Sorry you're having to give up a fav plant. I will remind you however that you can grow Palo Verde!

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  10. Just enjoying its haircut and thinking "I feel ten pounds lighter!"

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    1. And a lovely breeze on his neck...

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  11. No need to worry. I cut mine just as severely every year, and it comes right back. I think you can even cut them to ground level. But they won't bloom the year they are cut back, so you have to decide between compact shape and flowers, I think.

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    1. I think you're right, and loosing the blooms doesn't matter much to me.

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  12. Maybe I should thank the deer for nipping mine back and forcing it to branch. But don't worry about yours surviving. Coppicing cotinus is a common act.

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    1. What will you do next year when the deer can't get to it?

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  13. I think it takes a while for the effects of stooling to kick-in. After a few years, you'll start to get that knobby, warty stump that just bursts forth with new growth.

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    1. Emily you actually make the idea of a " knobby, warty stump " sound good!

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  14. Not a problem at all. It's difficult to kill a cotinus! Mine has the same poodle thing going on but I decided to let it go as a clematis is hiding a lot of the bare branches and when the smoke tree blooms with the clematis it'll look like I planned it. In a month, yours will look fabulous while I'll still have Fifi to contend with.

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    1. But it sounds like you did plan it! Perhaps Fifi will grow on you.

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  15. For years I've cut back a Cotinus 'Velvet Cloak' to foot-long stubs. Then for a couple of years I let it go, and enjoyed the first "smoke" last summer. But in regaining control of that corner this spring, I cut back in the old way in late March. Maybe it was the hard winter, maybe the interruption of the cutback routine, but nothing sprang from the stubs. I was sure for a while that I'd killed it, but lo, shoots sprang from the roots. [When they were numerous enough, I cut off the bare stubby stems at the base.] Now it's as strong as ever.

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    1. Wow, so what people are saying is true, they really are that tough!

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  16. Hahaha, I'm not sure, but everyone else seems to be saying it will pull through.

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    1. A you're back from Japan! I can't wait to read all about your adventures.

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  17. They are as tough as old boots and I am sure that you get larger leaves if you cut them back hard just like paulownia

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