Smokebush – Pruning into Shrub

Q: I planted a Smokebush seedling last spring. It was about 18″ tall. It now has a shoot approximately 10 feet tall. That’s the only part that seems to be growing-straight up. Do I need to prune it? If so, should I wait until early spring or late winter?

A: This is one of those plants, like fig and sweetgum, that grows tall immediately, even before making any side growth. Prune the sprout to two feet tall this winter. It will make side sprouts and probably some ground sprouts in spring. Clip those when they are twelve inches long and you will have a real bush eventually.

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