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In the Magazine

Trimming a Lilly Pilly

In the Garden > Gardening Tips, Books, Techniques and Tools

Trimming a Lilly Pilly

Topiaries are plants that have been trimmed into interesting shapes, such as cones, animals or balls on sticks (standards). Growing them is a lot of fun and they look great in the garden. However they do need regular and careful pruning, and many people are not sure what to do. Don demonstrated the necessary pruning techniques using a cone-shaped lilly pilly (Syzygium australe 'Elite') that was looking a bit scruffy.

Don's tips

Use sharp secateurs, shears (wavy edge shears are good on small foliage) or electric trimmers. Trim the new growth back to within a few centimetres of its origin. Do this by finding the line of the previous trimming (a line of darker foliage) and using it as your guide. Use a string line as a guide when pruning hedges. Stand back at regular intervals to review your progress - remember it is better to cut off too little than too much. Follow the branch you intend to cut from base to tip, to make sure it won't leave a hole when removed. Gaps can be covered by regular pinching, tip pruning or by training new growth across the hole (use soft plant ties to encourage growth where you want it.) Hedges, standards and topiaries need ongoing pruning to maintain their shape. Prune when the new growth reaches about 75mm (3"). Some hedges need one or two trims per year, others need pruning once a month to every six weeks in the warmer months. If you have a flowering hedge or topiary, prune when it has finished flowering. When trimming, remove spent flower heads. Fertilise with a mixture of 50% Nitrosol and 50% Seasol (diluted as per the instructions on the container) to encourage new growth.

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