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Shaping Up Old Favorites

March 06, 1993|KAREN DARDICK

Some of the plants that lend themselves well to being formed into patio trees are:

Anisodontea hypomandarum (South African mallow). This very showy, drought-tolerant shrub produces numerous pink hibiscus-like flowers from spring through fall.

Bougainvillea. It's hard to imagine this massive vine confined to a tree form. The trick is hard pruning to curtail its growth.

Camellia japonica. Although usually grown as a shrub, some varieties of camellias can be trained as trees and grown in containers as well as in the ground.

Escallonia exoniensis 'Fradesi' (Pink Princess Escallonia). Very commonly used as a shrub, this evergreen is now available as a patio tree. It produces masses of small pink flowers in spring and summer, can grow in sun but prefers part shade and thrives in coastal areas.

Euryops pectinatus 'Viridis' (Green-Leaved Golden Shrub Daisy). A drought-tolerant shrub that produces bright yellow daisy-like flowers almost year-round. Excellent in a container as well as in the ground. Flowers best if pruned heavily twice a year (after flowering) to a 10-inch diameter head. The trunk must also be trimmed of all growth.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (Chinese Hibiscus). Although usually grown as shrubs, a number of popular varieties can be grown as patio trees. Hibiscus are very sensitive to frost, and growing them in containers as trees makes it possible to move them to shelter such as a garage for frost protection.

Solanum rantonnetii (Blue Potato Bush). This is a semi-deciduous shrub that likes to sprawl, so as a patio tree it has a weeping effect. It produces quantities of purple flowers in spring and summer and grows in sun or part shade.

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