change of design for spekboom

Sneak Peek

Have you ever had a tree that was completely designed, and then the design just stopped working for you. That’s what happened to me with this Spekboom.

Change of Design for Spekboom

In September of 2020 I repotted this Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) into a large pot, as it had outgown its original container and I wanted to grow it into a large specimen. The style of the tree has been the so-called boom-form, from just about the beginning. It’s not a bad design. Unfortunately, over the past several months I found myself not liking it as much as I should.

I haven’t done anything to it since its repotting, so here we are in the middle of June of 2021 and the tree is in what I call the “Sideshow Bob” phase of growth typical of Spekboom when you don’t keep after it. I’ve been studying it and studying it for months, and I finally came to a decision – the design needed to change.

I started by removing that back fork in the trunk, which was carrying the lower levels of foliage in back of the tree. That sort of thing works for a broom-form tree, but not for an informal upright (my planned design).

Here I’ve edited more of the superfluous structural branching, seeking the lone trunk line I need for an informal upright specimen.


More trimming as I make the final decisions on where the trunk needs to go.

Found it! In this photo it’s easy to see where that trunk line was hiding all along.


Don’t forget my rule – always cut more than you think you need to cut. I may still have too much on that left-hand branch, but it’s got a good structure and I’m confident it’ll work once the tree pushes new buds where I want more branches (well, I’m counting on it, we’ll see).

Let me know what you think of this change. I personally like it a lot!