standard ornamental tree growing in a pot

Modify Shrubs & Vines Into A Standard

Steps to Train Shrubs & Vines to Grow As a Standard

How to train ornamental trees vines and shrubs into standardsTo make a plant to grow as a standard or balls–on-stick, you need to know how to plant them and manage them. Standard is an ornamental way to grow plants so that they become the accent plants for patio, porch or deck. As the name indicates the balls–on-stick comes with a straight stem without any leaves and topped by a mass of leaves. Standards already grown are expensive. It is better to train the plant to become a standard. Only some plants are suitable to train as standards. This includes rose, weeping fig, rosemary, gardenia, fuchsia, chinese lanterns, buddleia, lilly pilly and durantas all these shrubs work well, but there’s many more plants out there to choose from.

Select the Right Plant

To train a shrub as standard, select plants which are only 1 to 2 years old. Select plants with strong, upright stem for the purpose. The plant should be healthy and should have at least 10-inch-long straight stem. Pot the plant into the container with drainage holes. Fill the pot with potting soil to its quarter and place the plant. Add more soil and press the soil till the soil holds the plant firmly. Insert bamboo stake on one side of the pot and tie the main stem of the shrub to the stake. Tie the stem at every 3 to 4 inches ensuring a gap of at least one inch between the stem and the stake. Water the plant to the required amount after repotting.

Remove Extra Shoots

Remove the extra growing strong shoots at the bottom or sides of the stem using sharp pruning scissors. Any weaker stem should be cut into half of the length. Do not remove the leaves from the main stem and remaining stems. These leaves are needed to produce nutrients for the proper growth of the plant by photosynthesis. Water the plants when the top of the soil becomes dry. Allow the plant to grow to the required height.

Develop Ball-On-Stick

To get the ball-on–stick appearance for the shrub, pinch off the terminal buds formed on the main stem after the required height is reached. Allow the main stem to produce side shoots on top one-third portions. Remove any new shoots formed at bottom two thirds. Once the side shoots at the top reaches 1-2 inches length clip off the ends of the shoots. Repeat the process of clipping off the tips till the shrub gets ball-shaped growth. Make sure that you remove any shoots that develop from bottom two-thirds of the plant.

Prune to Maintain

Regular pruning of the top third part of the plant is needed to keep the ball shape of the shrub. Pruning will encourage more lateral branches to grow. Prune any new shoots or leaves growing from bottom two thirds at regular intervals to give it the standard look. Remove the stake when the stem of the standard reaches sufficient thickness. If the top part of the plant is too heavy, let the stake remain in the pot. Position the stake in such a way that it is hidden from the view. When the pot becomes root bound, repot the standard shrub to a new container.



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