Posted: 11/06/2013 at 23:07
Yeah, my dad was the head gardener for 20 years covering 3 psych hospitals. This was back when the garden staff, (about 80 odd) not only had to provide display for the borders/roundabouts, keeping the grass cut, aboriculture etc, but also produced all the salad, toms cucs as well as all veg year round to the canteens.So he's kind of like the guru for most things as he did it on an industrial scale for years. He reckons about the apical dominance that simply removing the top shoots repeatedly, will cause what's left of the leaders to bush out.
I agree that taking the tops out, will cause those currently inactive buds to start to grow. What I'm not sure about is how far down the plant this effect will go, and to what extent. I mean it'd be nice that you take the top 6 inches off to just above a set of buds, but it is my understanding, that removing the apical dominance essentially the effect on dormant buds lessens the further from the head of the plant you travel. Thus if I take the top 6 inches off, and then take the tops out of the new leaders that grow, will this make a difference to the dormant buds that are 8 inches from ground level? As this plant seems to enjoy growing spindley by all accounts I'm not so sure. You see my quandry? If I chop it down to 18" I know it'll grow thick as I want, just no flowers this year, but if I try this keep taking out the top 6 inches, I will have flowers, but will the plant still not be as thick as I want it?
It's looking like I'm going to have to take a plunge, I think I'll try the taking the heads out repeatedly and see, I'll enjoy the few flowers I get, if it hasn't thickened enough, going to be chopped next year back to 18 inch then when it regrows new leaders, everytime they get to 8 inch or so, heads will be taken out again. It won't win. I'm thinking that this variety grows so spindley, perhaps the best way to manage it is to keep taking the heads out every few weeks til it's dense enough.