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my stewartia pseudocamellia grows up

ONE OF US IS GETTING OLD, EITHER ME OR THE STEWARTIA. That realization struck this morning when I glimpsed its flowers from my bedroom window, something that wasn’t possible from that distant vantage point in all the years before. Either it has reached a height or I’ve reached an age where things are starting to come into sharper focus. If you haven’t read it, here’s a profile of one of my favorite small trees, Stewartia pseudocamellia.

  1. More is More Mom says:

    What a beautiful flowering tree. I’m inspired to take a ride to my local nursery and enjoy it in person.

  2. Andrew says:

    Mine bloomed this week too. It was a transplant from a generous gardening friend (I seem to have a few of those) who decided she didn’t need it anymore, MUCH to my benefit. I hadn’t planned on it flowering this year, so it was a great surprise!

  3. Kali says:

    I adore mine but I must have been in a daze of ignorance when I planted it 12 years ago cause it’s at the end of one of my garden beds and two feet behind it is a 20 ft cliffi! What was I thinking? Not much room for the roots to spread. It is healthy and quite floriferous, but alas, only 7 ft by 3ft at it’s widest. Do I dare move it is what I ask every spring.

  4. Jeni says:

    May I ask Margaret how tall and wide your stewartia is now, and how many years since it has been planted? I’d love to plant one near our fence to screen a neighbor’s aesthetically challenged plastic shed. Your blog is a favorite of mine, thank you.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Jeni. I bet it’s 10-12 feet wide at the base now and 20ish feet high. It has been in the ground at least 10 years, from a 5-foot balled-and-burlapped plant (in other words, it was field-grown, not container-grown originally).

      I suspect it will get to 30 feet high and maybe 15+ wide here; in the wild, I have read it gets to 40 by 20, but you so rarely see full size in a garden setting.

      @Madeline: I think you can do some pruning artfully, eyeballing each move you consider, but don’t cut back branches halfway as if it’s a hedge. It’s much better to remove a branch, I think, than to chop it off halfway — that will disfigure the tree. So you may end up without some of your lower branches entirely if the tree is in a too-tight spot. Hmmm…

      And keep in mind: as above in response to Jeni: The tree will get 15 or 20 feet wide in time. Uh-oh. Are you sure it it in a spot where there’s enough room for what’s to come?

  5. My Stewartia flowered this spring for the first time in the ten years it’s been in the garden! It is planted in a spot where it looks great when colored up in the fall, but is barely noticeable now — and thus I almost failed to see the blooms.

  6. benjia morgenstern says:

    Last year,after reading about your best 5 small trees, I ran out last Summer and found a Stewartia here in Lakeville, Ct. l. It is doing well but no blossoms on mine??? Will it take time to bloom..years? benjia

  7. My little stewartia died this spring. It was a seedling I got from Seneca Hill Perennials. First the heat brought it out of dormancy, then it got socked by some hard freezes. It tried to put out a second set of leaves, and we had another hard freeze. The. End.

  8. Rose Gold says:

    I hate to see things or living things as such coming to an end. But that is life, we just have to accept the fact that not all are permanent. The only permanent thing in this world is change. At least we still have the memory to live by, just like the memory of your lovely tree which bears flowers that is adorable.

  9. Anna says:

    My 9 month old stewardia was off to a slow start . It was bare until late May and just over the last few weeks it established many new green shoots starting from the bottom and edging upward every day. It was about 75% and I returned home today from a barbecue to find my landscapers had butchered it. the cut off all the top shoots of the tree-crew cut and cut two primary limbs about halfway. These carrying limbs were both on the right side of the tree. It is a lopsided shrub now. My baby that I have been watching, watering, and fussing over is now a mutant. I am sick.
    I went to the landscaper’s home ( a dear family friend) crying and asked why? His response was he cut all the dead branches to establish new growth.
    From everything I have read, you dont cut primary branches, you don’t give haircuts (cutting the tops of), you don’t cut summer blooming trees in the summer just when they are a bout to bloom. All those “dead” branches were growing beautiful new shoots. Th shape of the tree was lovely with wispy shaped branches. they are now blunt cut stalks. I am so upset… just beside myself over a tree. I can’t even look at it as it now is deformed. Just needed to vent.

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Anna. So sorry for your tree. Sounds as if it was experiencing a lot of dieback up top, and starting to push new growth from the roots — which plants in trouble often do. It doesn’t sound as if it would have outgrown the dieback…but their “pruning” doesn’t sound very intelligent, either. Obviously they don’t know what the tree’s shape/habit is meant to be or they would not top it.

      Again, if all the green (live) growth was coming from the roots, and only these new shoots from below were healthy/green, it was in big trouble already…but still.

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