g_divine

operculicarya decaryi pruning

Amanda M (5b)
20 days ago

I've had this plant for several years and havent really pruned it. I want to shorten it up and thicken the growth, if possible. The total height of the plant is 48 inches from base to top leaves. I have marked my proposed cut points. Any experts around who can give any tips?

Comments (21)

  • Amanda M (5b)

    I can not for the life of me get the edited photo with my marks to load!


  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    Your plant is starving for light. It is tall and sparse and looking for light. Do you have a South facing window? This plant needs to get as much light as you can give it. May be even some supplemental light. Otherwise pruning will produce the same effect eventually. Right now it is low in energy. Better option would be to wait till you can put it outside (around May June) and let it gain some strength and then prune hard to the first branch. Usually hard pruning should induce back budding (that is buds below the cut). Once you have branches below the cut you can keep it bushier with frequent pruning of branch tips after they have 2-3 sets of leaves. Bright light will keep the nodes tighter and help with the bushy look. But I am not quite familiar with this plant (it is on my wishlist though). May be someone else can pipe in with first hand knowledge.

  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    Cannot see the photo with your proposed cut points. You can trim it down a bit but not too much. I would take down about 1/3rd of existing mass and plan about giving it more light first.

  • Amanda M (5b)

    I do have much more light available for it, I just allowed it to go dormant for the winter and most of the leaves fell off. I have been watering it once a month and have been storing it in an area with bright indirect light. I will move it to the sunnier spot and wait to see what happens! Thanks for the tips!

  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    If it is indeed dormant then you could wait till it breaks dormancy and then move it to bright sunny spot. Prune some now and do all the hard pruning (if you are up to it) in June. I do all hard pruning of tropicals in June into July when they are more enthusiastically growing. You want low branches as much as possible to fatten up the trunk.

  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    Read a bit about and it seems they do go dormant in winter especially under our conditions. Reading further best time major pruning is when growth starts or thereafter in spring/summer. Well that is typical of tropicals in general.Looks like it should back bud profusely - means you can hard prune it in summer leaving at least one live branch though.

    Make sure to propagate the cuttings. If you are up to it I would not mind getting/exchanging cuttings later. Do not feel obligated though. I have too many plants and it would be difficult to sneak another under my wife's radar.

  • cactusmcharris, interior BC Z4/5

    Amanda,

    Mine has kept leaves all throughout the winter, though they're not as numerous as they will be in summer.

    I've found this plant, like many succulent plants, is opportunistic. If given warmth and light and water, they may not go dormant, just growing in reduced circumstances. Perhaps it's a matter of maturity (my plant is about 15 years old).

    Like the others have suggested, I'd wait until it's in active growth to prune it - perhaps some of the growth will be strong enough that if you prune it the cuttings might be viably started into plants themselves.

    As full sun as you can give it, and start watering a little more than once a month beginning in March. Your Operculycaria should be able to right itself this year. Grown best as a tropical in the summer, it's a bit of a poser, because even in San Diego they went dormant in the 'winter' there, but here in the Great White North they don't completely shed their leaves when the weather outside is frightful. Sometimes I don't know nothin' about plants, I do declare. Picture after a repot - the potshards are to protect the newly raised roots from getting sunburned.

  • Amanda M (5b)

    Thank you for the tips! Your plant is stunning and I hope mine can look as awesome some day!!

  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    I usually look at bonsai sites to get ideas about care. Here is one that I had bookmarked last year when browsing bonsai nut: https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/jabily-elephant-tree.26026/

    May be it will give you clues regarding pruning.

  • cactusmcharris, interior BC Z4/5

    Or, if you’re wanting for it to get as much a shrubbery as it could get, don’t prune until well into its growing season, when you might find out it doesn’t nee it after all. These cashew relatives are remarkably self-correcting if given a chance to grow unhindere.

  • isde02(zone5b)

    cactusmcharris I have two seedlings that I started from seed 2019, they've been growing pretty steadily and haven't dropped leaves either. I have no clue what I'm doing lol, but hopefully I can get mine to look half way as good as yours.

  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    Looking pretty good Isde02. Where did you get your seeds? May be I should start with seeds except that I am not sure who to trust on amazon/ebay.

  • isde02(zone5b)

    Thanks, these seeds were from koehres-kakteen. Maybe I just got lucky but they were pretty easy to germinate.

  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    That looks like a German site only. I guess you are In Germany/EU. Thanks anyway. I will look around in US and order some seeds at some point. Hopefully it will work out.

  • isde02(zone5b)

    It is German but they ship to the US, I'm in Ohio.

  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    OK. Good to know.

  • cactusmcharris, interior BC Z4/5

    isde,

    Do you keep yours warm all winter? I think that might be the key. Mine in San Diego were outside all of the time (but protected from rain in winter, when they were leafless). I suspect it's the constant warmth in the winter here. The Bushy Beast hasn't lost its leaves in winter, and even seems to grow some, when I've given it fortnightly waterings.

    I'm thinking of burying the roots again - I'd guess its growth would be much more lush with the roots below, absorbing more nutrients.

    tropic,

    I think I saw some at Arid Lands' website, but they're pricey - I didn't see any seeds, only plants.

    Here it is today, looking almost eager to go outside and bake in the summer. Except for that pesky winter thing for almost the next three months.

  • isde02(zone5b)

    Looks awesome!! Yes sir, they've been in a grow tent under artificial lights almost entirely since germination. That makes sense.....as long as they're growing, I'm going to continue. How/what are you fertilizing with?

  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    Thanks cactmcharris for the Arid Greenhouse link - very interesting site. I will have to wait till spring. Logees has it listed but out of stock. Yes they are not cheap - here is one available if anyone is willing to take out a second mortgage: https://www.wigertsbonsai.com/product/elephant-tree-wigerts-specimen-tree-2/

    Young seedlings tend to be very vigorous and often do not show the adult traits till they are a couple of years old.

  • SoCal Stewart (San Diego, Ca Zone 10A/10B)

    I purchased mine from Botanic Wonders. Al Klein starts them all from seeds from his own stock.

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