How Big Will My Plant Get?

I have this conversation a lot:
“John, can I plant this pretty little thing over there?”
“Well, if you want to…but it could get pretty big.”
“But the plant tag says it will grow ‘up to three feet.’”
“Yes, the tag does say that. What it doesn’t say is ‘more or less.’”

So let me tell you about a pretty plant with the imposing name of ‘Cameocyperus Boulevard.’ The Boulevard is a beautiful, blue/gray/green evergreen conifer. The leaves fall in a soft pattern. If you stroke it just right, it may make you think of holding your blankie and sucking your thumb.

Susan asked me how big a small Boulevard in a pot would grow and she wanted to know if it would be nice in front of the outdoor patio chimney. It looked good in that spot.

blog boulevard 1
I looked at a plant that is probably from a cutting rooted 3 years ago. How big will it get?

Here’s the rest of the story.
Years ago I had been impressed by the appearance of the boulevard tree. I bought some plants to use here and there and then I rooted a bunch of cuttings. After a couple of years of growing this plant, though, I found that it could be problematic in the wrong location. It has a habit of sometimes browning out and losing limbs in some places. It seems to like high altitudes and I think that North Georgia is the lower limit of its preferred habitat. Anyway, I can trace four of the plants.

I am going to show you three of the plants that are the same age:

One of them ended up at Betty’s house in a bonsai dish. I have trimmed and re-potted this plant many times and it is somewhere around two feet tall.

blog boulevard 3
This bonsai is one of three trees, grown from cuttings, that are probably 20 years old. I have been trimming this one for many years.

I would guess that these three plants came into my possession somewhere around 2002—I’m not really sure of the exact time but that’s close. One of the plants went over in a corner and was neglected. I rescued it about eight years ago and gave it to my lovely wife, Dekie. Dekie is a pruning fanatic. She loves to trim and shape her plants and finds the practice meditative. Dekie also teaches Tai Chi and she names her plants. The name of this Boulevard specimen is “Cloud Hands,” which is also the name of a Tai Chi movement. This tree is a little over six feet tall.

blog boulevard 4
A topiary named “Cloud Hands” The plant moves in the breeze in a pattern that is similar to the Tai Chi movement.

The third tree was given, traded, or sold to a friend who runs a nursery. I had totally forgotten about it until three or four years ago when I showed up at Katrina’s house to do some pruning and cleaning. I saw the boulevard and stepped back, viewing it with a smile on my face.
“I’ll bet you got that plant from Larry.” I said.
Katrina thought for a moment and said, “I think you’re right. How did you know?”

Katrina’s Boulevard plant has also been well tended to. And this picture answers Susan’s question of, “How big will my plant get?” I’ll bet that Katrina’s tree has not reached its potential size either—but it does support my point: The plant will get as large as you let it.

blog boulevard 2
Seeing this plant on the mountain was like running into an old friend from many years ago.

Other related articles,

The basics of pruning

A neat article about pruning various plants for a client

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