THE Coprosmas, Pinched

I always think of Coprosmas as "The" Coprosmas. They have a refinement and elegance that demands deference. It is a genus of smallish, slow growing shrubs native to New Zealand. In Southern California, "native to New Zealand" translates instantly into "morning sun, afternoon shade, don't forget to water" if you are away from the immediate coast but still have a good bit of coastal influence, and "doomed" if you are in the desert. Extreme heat and drought won't make them happy. Probably not cold hardy below around 20F. Don't take my word on that. Cold hardy is not a concern here.

Currently on the market are a lot of interesting cultivars with colorful variegated foliage. 'Autumn Glow', 'Rainbow Surprise', 'Tequila Sunrise', 'Roy's Red', and so on. The foliage pinks up quite a bit in the winter months on many of them, adding additional color. In addition to the color variations, the foliage is also extremely glossy, as if it has been given about 6 or 10 coats of lacquer. The gloss itself is another point of beauty. The leaves are small, providing a fine texture.

Growth habit is naturally rangy, lanky, open, even scraggly, but with dedicated pinching, you can create a dense rounded globe. Occasional pruning creates a fuller plant, too, but pinching gives an even denser effect.

Pinching means taking out the very tip of a branch. This changes the structure of the branch from a straight line to a "Y" shape. Repinching and repinching the tips of those "Y"s creates more "Y"s and soon you have--a dense, rounded globe. Plus it's a healthy outlet for the obsessive personality.

Here are some of The Coprosmas, pinked up for winter and obsessively pinched into denseness.


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