Arbutus: Viability of keeping an Arbutus small (15-20ft) ie bonsai effect

Discussion in 'Ericaceae (rhododendrons, arbutus, etc.)' started by todd3358, May 11, 2009.

  1. todd3358

    todd3358 Member

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    I am interested in planting an Arbutus tree in our backyard in Vancouver (at least to give it a try). There are some in our neighbourhood. We have many of them on our property in the Gulf Islands. I'm wondering if it is viable to keep an Arbutus tree within about 15-20 ft height and whether annual pruning would be OK for this tree. The tree would be in the ground not in a pot. I recognize that if left alone they can be giants.

    cheers, todd
     
  2. corcor

    corcor Active Member

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    so long as the tree is healthy a good yearly pruning would work, once it gets a little taller then where you want it, chop it down a bit lower than desired height, it will grow more dense and compact and tend to be more bushy, if you still want it to look like a tree prune some of the branches off to thin it out a bit, this will also help the tree breathe better
     
  3. todd3358

    todd3358 Member

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    Corcor,

    Thanks for the reply. Now I just need to determine if the annual work of keeping the tree tamed will be worth it. Depends how bushy the pruning causes the tree become.
     
  4. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    Consider an arbutus unedo (AKA Strawberry Tree) instead, as it will work with your height requirements without the need to butcher the top(s). Not an exact match for the local arbutus menziesii, but close enough to get the effect.
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Dwarf cultivars of A. unedo on the market here.
     
  6. todd3358

    todd3358 Member

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    Thanks woodschmoe that was a great suggestion. I had a quick look and will do a bit more looking around. I like the fact the fruits are more prominent/colourful than the Arbutus m. themselves. Normally, I wouldn't mind an Arbutus growing to full size, but in the case of our garden it would then block out a nice view of the mountains. Do you know if the fruits are useful or edible in any way?

    Ron does the arbutus unedo come in varieties such full size vs. dwarf. Do you know the average difference in mature sizes?
     
  7. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    Look up arbutus unedo 'Marina'; taller than other forms, but smaller than the native arbutus. It has the advantage of the arbutus' red bark. Ought to be hardy enough in a good location; type the name into the search engine on this forum to access discussions about this.

    Re: smaller sized unedos...'compacta' and 'elfin king' are two that come to mind.

    Fruit is edible, though usually insipid. I've had some that were reasonably sweet, though. 'Unedo' is latin for 'I eat only one'. Probably refers to the poor taste, though some sources report that overconsumption of the fruit leads to drunkeness; don't know if this is an oblique reference to the fact that the fruit is used to make liquor, or a result of the fruit, which ripens on the tree over a year, fermenting in situ.
     

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