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Leggy cabbage trees

OVER the last six years we have planted several cabbage trees on our coastal property. Although they grow exceptionally well, they don't want to branch out. Some are up to 4m tall and starting to look too leggy. We have several varieties, both green and red. Your advice would be much appreciated.


IN good growing conditions, especially sheltered from wind, cabbage trees can sometimes grow quite tall and spindly before branching out. In exposed, windy sites they'll be slower growing, have stockier trunks and are more likely to branch at a lower height. So it does seem a little unusual that your ones, near the coast, are leggy.

You could force them to branch by destroying the growing tip or chopping the top off the stem, but I wouldn't advise this drastic step as it would set them back quite severely. They'd look unsightly for ages and some may not fully recover. My advice is to be patient. Most varieties of cabbage trees don't reach much taller than 4-5m before growth slows, the stems thicken and they branch out, so I'm confident yours will soon follow suit.

Weekend Gardener, Issue 151, 2004, Page 27

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.

Andrew Maloy Weekend Gardener

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