How to trim a leggy Pacific Wax Myrtle (myrica cal.)

seattle_allegraAugust 18, 2008

My wax myrtles, planted about 4 years ago, have become very "leggy" and I was hoping they would provide a denser screen. I'm not sure how best to trim them to make them fuller. Can anyone give me some instructions? (I am not an experienced pruner--it always makes me nervous!)

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

What to do depends on what specifically you are talking about when you say they are leggy - what circumstances may be present. These produce a rather open growth in shaded positions, like other shrubs will not be as dense if not doing so well. If planted in the open and of good deep green color then maybe you could cut back on the watering and get slower, more dense growth. Otherwise you have to snip the newer growth back partly to make it shorter.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 11:02PM
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still_kris(z17 NoCA)

I have a forty foot or so hedge of wax myrtles and imho you can chop them right down to the ground and they will sprout from bare wood. You might not want to do that drastic a job, but they will survive--I know this because a well-meaning friend who helps me with pruning did that to two 15 footers a couple of years ago. It took awhile, but they looks just fine now. They really did need that as they had been growing in the shade of a large ceanothus that had recently been downed in a storm (only 96 mph) and had been removed.

And the idea that "snipping", which sounds so genteel, would do the trick with these outrageous, rank growers puts a smile on my face.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 1:36PM
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muddydogs

This is probably not the right time of year for hard pruning unless you want to look at sticks in the winter. Pruning in March would be better.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 9:55PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Shortening long growths in summer so that they aren't so long but the overall appearance of the shrubs is not markedly altered (whacked back) would in fact consist of snipping.

The leaves of this species are big enough that clipping the whole plant over with a hedge shear results in leaves being cut into sections. Close shearing has a tendency to result in parts of the leaves turning a conspicuous brown - as well as giving the plants a geometric shape not in keeping with most settings.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 12:54AM
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