Leggy Aglaia odorata (Chinese Perfume plant): Can I trim it hard?

forever_a_newbie(z7/8 VA)November 9, 2011

I have a Aglaia odorata (Chinese Perfume plant) that is very leggy and looking sad. It is in the pot, staying outside in the sprint and summer and brought in for the winter.

It is over 3 feet, but only the top of each branch has some leaves. It only blooms a couple times this year.

Is there a way I can trim it to become compact?



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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

Hi Changsong!

I got one in the mail this summer that was 2ft tall and also quite leggy. I cut some branches back severely and left others alone. The ones I did cut back did not sprout along the naked branch but at the base of the branch where it connects to the trunk (so I ended up cutting back the naked branch stubs once the new stems grew up).
I'm curious if others have any advice on pruning Aglaia. I did notice that the new branches flowered profusely (and are still putting out flower buds even after bringing it inside for the winter).
I think in the spring I will pull it out of its pot and trim the roots and give it fresh potting soil.


    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 3:13PM
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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

When grown in a pot, Aglaia odorata can and should be pruned back hard on a periodic basis. This prevents it from becoming a lanky, leggy mess and encourages frequent blooming. As was mentioned above, pruning often stimulates new growth at the base of old stems, rather than near the tips like most plants.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 3:58PM
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forever_a_newbie(z7/8 VA)

Thanks Robert and ispahan for the replies. I was always scared at prune the plant severly. I'll follow your suggestion and prune some branches hard at first, then see how that is going. Thanks a lot,
Happen gardening!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 4:12PM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

You're welcome! Good luck. I also found a site that recommends pinching the tips to encourage bushiness.

Here is a link that might be useful: Care for Aglaia odorata

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 5:09PM
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forever_a_newbie(z7/8 VA)

Robert: Thanks for the link. That is very helpful! Changsong

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 7:47AM
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Howdy...For the first time ever, I bought an Aglaia a month or two ago.
Since I'm in IL, my Aglaia is in a container, wintered indoors, summered outside.

It's on the small side, 5.5". Little balls, probably buds produced a week or two back.
How long does it take for buds to open?

Robert, although the link you posted was helpful, it's basic, didn't answer all my questions.

For instance..Sun. Does Aglaia need direct or indirect sun?

Soil. Which type is best? What about pH?

Fertilizer. Which type? All-Purpose or Flowering?

Humidity. Does Aglaia need high, medium or low humidity?

It's before a west window, with some reflected light from a Gro-Light. The room is on the cool side. Humidity varies. We keep a humidifer running from Nov-May, and an indoor fountain in the room where Aglaia lives.

I'd love seeing pics from those of you who have 2' Aglaias. Especially in flower.

Thanks much, Toni

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 6:25PM
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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

The best and most accurate instructions for caring for Aglaia odorata are found on the Logee's website. I grow my plants exactly as they describe and I have never never had any problems.

Here is a link that might be useful: Aglaia care-Logee's

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 11:59PM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

Hi Toni!

Ispahan's Logee's link has excellent tips.
Growing outside the tiny green flower buds turned to yellow fairly quickly (I never timed it but I'd say a week or two?). Inside I've noticed the flowers are taking much longer to turn yellow. When they do I'll try to post a pic. :)
I'd give it as much sun as possible while growing indoors.
Outside I grew mine in full sun in the morning and then filtered sun the rest of the day.
I also grew it in the 5:1:1 soil mixture (drains quickly) which you can find the recipe to make your own mixture on this site by searching for 5:1:1.
This is my first year to grow it but so far it seems to be a very easy plant.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 9:51AM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

Here's some pics of my 2ft Aglaia in bloom as requested.
On the windowsill to the left you can see my smaller Aglaia.
Mind you these are from my phone so don't expect much detail. ;)
I didn't cut back all of the branches so you can see a mixture of new branches and the old leggy ones.
I've been tip pruning the new branches to try to make it bushier.
It's definitely a happier plant after you chop it back some.


    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 1:57PM
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forever_a_newbie(z7/8 VA)

Thanks everyone for the good information.

And Robert your plants are fabulous.


    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 2:26PM
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I just got a tiny one of these from Logees and am trying to pick out the right pot and soil. Can I use cactus mix potting soil since it needs quick draining soil? Also can I put it in a self watering pot or would that be keeping it too evenly moist even though it's a clay pot?

One last question - when do you start pruning to make it bushier? Mine is one center stem with leaves only and about 10" tall. Do I wait until the leaves make their own stems and prune those back but never prune the initial center stem? Might sound like a silly question to those in the know but I grow alot of roses and prune from the top. Thanks for the help!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 9:27AM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

Thank you, Changsong! Your compliment made me smile.


This is the first year I've grown this plant but I'll tell you what I've done so far.
The plant I received from Pepper's Greenhouses was tiny. Maybe 3 inches or so. When it was 10 inches or so I cut back the inital center stem (the 'trunk'). The side branches I tip pruned when they were around 3 inches tall. I also pinched off the leaves at the base of the trunk to make it more tree like.

My plant is now 13 inches and starting to look more full.

As for the potting mix Cactus mix and/or regular Miracle Gro potting soil would be fine as long as you let the soil dry between waterings. I personally like making my own mix.
I would not suggest a self watering pot since Aglaia's need a well drained mix and to let the soil dry out between watering (so not constantly moist which a self watering pot would do).

Good luck!


    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 10:57AM
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