Mr Bowling Ball Thuja

dottiem(z7 NC)July 31, 2014

I'm redoing the front of my house and just purchased 3 of these Thuja's. They grow about 2 - 3 feet, high and wide.

It's recommended to plant them about 2 ft apart. My question is, how far from the house? Since they're not getting sun on all sides (because of the house) will they start to lean into the sun thus growing too far from the house?

It's not a very large area, about 4 ft, so I think a 2 ft space from the house would look a little weird if they start to grow that way.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

see link for many pix ...

and do understand.. no conifer stop growing at some magical height/width ...

give them as much room as you can ...

and 4 feet isnt much ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 11:41AM
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dottiem(z7 NC)

So you think 2-3 feet from the house is ok?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 11:46AM
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READ KEN'S answer again.
Also, house over hang might restrict rainfall.
they won't reach out for sun,they grow in ball.

3t. is absolute min

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 9:20PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI) plant is 4' wide from a 3 gallon container and in the ground for 4 years. No way it matures at 2-3' wide. At least 4' wide in 10 years.

I'd agree 3' min from the house min to maintain at least some space.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 10:38PM
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Thuja occidentalis 'Bobazam' is the correct name. 'Bowling Ball is the nursery trade name.

I have grown this cultivar for 6-7 years. Repeated Winters of heavy snow loads and ice storms will compromise this cultivar by splaying it to the ground. I plan on removing mine this Fall and using the space for a more viable cultivar.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 8:43AM
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dottiem(z7 NC)

Thanks plantkiller. I read Ken's response but it didn't answer my question. The overhang isn't an issue. They'll get water. And thanks for answering that they "won't reach out for the sun." That was my concern.

Thanks whaas, the area can still handle 4ft in width and height. Four feet high would still not cover the window and four feet wide would just cover the narrowest space in the bed. Still plenty of room for other stuff.

Davesconifers, snow is really not an issue here. Last year was a bad year and we had 3 snow storms. So if I have to go out and shake off the snow 3-4 times a winter, it's not a big deal. Mose years we don't get any snow at all. Not even a flurry. But constant trimming to keep things neat and compact in the Spring/Summer is a pain. Snow is not.

Will take the advice and plant minimally 3ft from the house.

Thanks all!!!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 9:39AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Clearly the tight balls on the Lake County web site are the result of close shearing and not how the plant grows on its own. Those I have seen here were fluffy pyramidal juvenile foliage forms; I am not surprised to hear about this falling over or splaying open, in the manner of similar forms of other species. That's too bad as it is rather appealing looking otherwise - in garden center sizes anyway.

It isn't a matter of 'Bobazam' being a "correct" name and Mr. Bowling Ball then being therefore incorrect. The two names are instead two different things, Mr. Bowling Ball being a registered trademark used to sell the 'Bobazam' cultivar. During these days of large production nurseries in particular using trademarks and patents to assure profits being made on their plant introductions this combination of a memorable selling name (as these are called in Britain) and a jawbreaker cultivar name is common. Often the cultivar names in these instances are combinations of syllables that actually convey information, in this case the cultivar name surely stands for 'Bowling ball zam'pini - the last being the name of the principal of Lake County nursery.

Here is a link that might be useful: [Mr. Bowling Ball] = 'Bobazam' Fact Sheet from Lake County nursery

This post was edited by bboy on Fri, Aug 1, 14 at 22:34

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 10:19PM
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bboy ... 'Mr Bowling Ball' doesnâÂÂt grow ever pyramidal, theyâÂÂre as globose as can be, without any pruning. I don't know what you were looking at.

The skinny on this cultivars name as told to me by a friend.

In 1985 Joe Stupka found a witchesâ broom in a Thuja occidentalis at a cemetery in Linesville. Joe just give it the name âÂÂLinesville W.B.â Later on the Lake County Nursery got it in their hands in they renamed it commercially seen as âÂÂBobazamâ All their finds will end with ZAM. They also gave it the trademark name âÂÂMr. Bowlingballâ î.

So it looks like it was a Lake County Nursery find, but they got it from Joe Stupka, whoâÂÂs a very old man now. Also the story goes James promised Joe a lot of money for it, but he still hasn't seen a dime yet.

Thinking the right name for this conifer should be Thuja occidentalis âÂÂLinesville W.B.âÂÂ, but itâÂÂs been in the trade too long under âÂÂMr. Bowling Ballâ in Europe and the U.S for a name change.


This post was edited by Davesconifers on Sat, Aug 2, 14 at 19:00

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 7:52AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I haven't had any splaying issues but then again its only 4 years in the ground. The plant is actually 3.5" wide.

Favorite Thuja behind Fire Cheif, Sunkist, Sherwood Frost and Rheingold.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 1:21PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Have seen multiple examples here with a more or less conical top having developed. Numerous other supposedly globose conifer cultivars may attempt to grow into tree shapes sooner or later also. Foliage of stock seen here is same as that shown in photos of the "balls". Growth behavior of variant conifers is directly affected by propagation method including where on stock plants scions or cuttings originated and influence of any rootstock used. Much grafted stock of other dwarf, rounded etc. forms that grew out of character due to apparent invigoration by being placed on non-dwarf seedling roots have been produced and dispersed in the past.

As shown on the Lake County page I inked to above, and as I discussed above Mr. Bowling Ball is a registered trademark selling name and not a cultivar name 'Mr. Bowling Ball' that is presented in single quotes. Only cultivar names are presented in single quotes, which are used specifically to indicate the name refers to a cultivar. The recurring "zam" in Lake County cultivar names would surely refer to Jim Zampini, just as Monrovia cultivars are often 'Mon' something and Bailey nursery plants are often 'Bail' this or that.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 4:28PM
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Here is a picture of mine.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 7:48AM
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Heres one im growing.....
Nice photo Frank


    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 9:27AM
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Attached youâÂÂll see 2 pics taken at Joe Stupka garden, it shows with the first cuttings he took from that broom at Linesville.

This specimen is now almost 30 years old and is mounding a bit, but never showed a leader which would have formed it into a pyramidal shape bboy.



This post was edited by Davesconifers on Sun, Aug 3, 14 at 17:39

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 1:13PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Stupka's and Frank's plants look pyramidal - albeit very broadly - to me. Definitely not round balls. Other propagules becoming more narrow and pointy under different conditions - on seedling root-stocks of normal vigor, for instance - wouldn't knock me over at all.

The material I have seen offered here appears to have the same foliage as shown in these pictures. It is not fastigiate or sharply pointed at all, merely quite a bit more conical than one might expect from Zampini's depiction.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 2:04PM
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Have it your way bboy,

Understanding the difference between mounding and pyramidal can be difficult for some people.


This post was edited by Davesconifers on Wed, Aug 6, 14 at 15:19

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 6:13AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

Examples are cushions......... I don't know why anyone would graft it, either. It's a Thuja for goodness sake which are propagated by the tens of thousands and 10's of hundreds of thousands as cuttings (at single prop. facilities.)


    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 9:09AM
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