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The shrubs that pass for trees.

They're called standards, and they offer many advantages: good manners, bloom, shapeliness. You can buy them already trained

Some of the best trees for home gardens aren't trees at all, but medium- to largesize shrubs trained into "standards" ftom small cuttings.

Shrub standards come in many colors, shapes, and sizes from 4-foot-tall euryops and lantana to loftier oleander and photinia. Some, such as azalea and rhaphiolepis, bloom in spring. Others, such as hibiscus and Lycianthes, bloom for almost the entire growing season.

For an accent near a front door, color on a deck, or a focal point at the foot of a path, any of the trees listed here are excellent choices. Most require only minor pruning. This month is a good time to shop for shrub standards at nurseries, since many are in full bloom. Prices range between $25 and $45 for a 5-gallon can.

Keep in mind that the trunk on the tree you select won't grow any taller. Choose accordingly and don't plant a short, lowbranching tree next to a path or eventually you may not be able to pass by.

Prune to shape heads. Remove suckers

Shrub standards look best when they develop a natural shape. Try to avoid the lollipop look when pruning; never shear (one exception: shear euryops when it gets too woody and loses its lower leaves). To control growth and keep heads compact, pinch back branch tips regularly, and selectively prune individual branches.

You'll also need to prune suckers that develop along the trunks; otherwise, trees will revert to shrub form. If sucker growth is less than an inch long, rub it off with your fingers; if it's longer, use shears. For all of the trees, stake the trunk at planting time and thin the foliage (if necessary) until the trunks become sturdy enough to hold the weight of a large head.

Short or tall? Take your choice

Small trees for containers. Set pots on decks and near entrancesso you can enjoy dramatic blooms. Trunks generally range ftom 2 to 3 feet tall. So the heads stay in scale with trunk's height, keep them trimmed to 2 to 3 feet in diameter.

Euryops pectinatis 'Viridis', Gardenia jasminoides 'August Beauty', G.j. 'Mystery', Lantana hybrids, Southern indica azaleas.

Dual-purpose trees for pots or planting in the ground. Most of these stand on 3- to 4foot trunks, but some are trained higher. For containers, keep foliage in scale with the pot and feed plants regularly. In the ground, plants can have larger heads, 3 to 6 feet in diameter. Tip-prune Abutilon and Alyogyne regularly to keep compact. Abutilon hybrids, Alyogyne huegelii 'Santa Cruz', A.h. 'Monterey Bay', Camellia japonica, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, Leptospermum scoparium, Rhaphiolepis indica, R. 'Majestic Beauty', Lycianthes rantonnei 'Royal Robe' (Solanum rantonnetii 'Royal Robe'), roses.

Tall growers-for patio or street trees, or a single garden accent. You're likely to find these on 4- to 6-foot trunks; some trees can reach 15 feet high. If you want to walk under it, make sure you buy one with at least a 6-foot trunk.

Callistemon citrinus, C viminalis, Eriobotrya 'Coppertone', Nerium oleander, Ligusirum japonicum 'Texanum', Photinia fraseri.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jun 1, 1989
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