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Home arrow The Daily Dirt arrow Thursday Techniques: Standards – Shrubs in Tree Form
Thursday Techniques: Standards – Shrubs in Tree Form Print E-mail
Written by Heleigh Bostwick    Thursday, 23 February 2012
Wisteria Standard Tree

Standards. You’ve all seen them but may not have known what they’re called. Simply put, standards are shrubs or vines that are pruned and trained into a tree form that has a single stem. Standards were a popular horticultural technique in Victorian times and you’ll often see wisteria standards in Victorian era homes or parks (a younger wisteria standard is pictured above). Commonly called “standard trees” or even topiaries, rosemary, roses, heliotrope, hibiscus, citrus, wisteria, and bougainvillea are some of the plants most often trained into standards, and, as you may have noticed, many of them are tropical plants.

Standards are not for everyone, but they can be used as focal points in more formal gardens and they do add some architectural structure in less formal ones. They’re also nice for smaller garden spaces such as terraces (one in each corner or along the back edge for example), placed along garden paths, or against blank walls. Often the base of the standard is planted with additional flowers, typically annuals for containers and perennials for in ground planting.

Tree Rose

Standards can be planted in the garden or yard, but keep in mind that in the standard form, they are less hardy, which is why they are often grown in large container pots that can be moved indoors during the winter months. If you’d like to try your hand at training a rose or other plant into a standard check out the recommended reading.

Recommended reading:
American Horticultural Society Pruning & Training
Pruning (Royal Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Practical Gardening)

Photo sources: greenhummer, www.gardenweb.com and www.cottagefarmsdirect.com