Mop Tops are Marvellous

The Mop Top Robinia is an amazingly versatile tree.  Naturally topiarised, with regular pruning it will maintain a balled head perfect as a formal entrance to a garden or a home.

Framing the windowI think the ball provides lovely structure but the branches and leaves are soft which means the head of the tree does flutter in the breeze.  They are a great option for small spaces like courtyards because the size of the head can be controlled.

To achieve a consistent thick ‘mop’ the head of the tree should be pruned hard each year right down to the knuckle.  It looks pretty harsh but don’t despair!  Prune them when bare in Winter and you will have a healthy tight head of foliage when Summer comes around.

Pruned to the knuckle Less common but equally attractive is to leave the head of the Mop Top unpruned.  Where space is not a problem this will allow for a woollier, less rounded appearance as shown in these picture of a street side cafe in Bowral and an informal driveway avenue.

Shade for a cafe patronsA less formal Mop Top driveway

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31 Responses to Mop Tops are Marvellous

  1. Kerry Buttsworth says:

    can you tell me the cost of a robina moptop aprox 6yrs old appox 8cm at base as we have to replace one for a customer

    • Winter Hill Scribe says:

      Good Morning,
      Thanks for your question. The caliper of our 100 litre Mop Tops are 8cm and retail for $374.
      We do have one 200 litre Mop Top which unfortunately is not perfectly straight but it has a caliper of 9cm. Retail cost on this is $880.
      Hope this helps. If you have any more questions or would like to see pictures of the trees feel free to give the office a call.

  2. Kathy says:

    Our five year old mop tree has curly leaves this .have not noticed this other years,is this normal

    • Winter Hill Scribe says:

      Sorry I haven’t replied sooner. Missed your comment. I think your tree was probably reacting to the changes in the weather. Plants can get a bit confused when there are extreme changes. After the snow we had here at Winter Hill in Spring we have had some of our trees here on the farm struggling to work out what season it is. Hopefully given my reply is late your tree is now looking better, but perhaps help it along with some additional watering.
      Winter Hill

  3. Yvonne Parker says:

    Can you please tell me if Mop Tops have a problem with their root system if they are left unpruned? I would like to plant one near my pergola for shade.

    • Winter Hill Scribe says:

      You shouldn’t have a problem leaving a Mop Top unpruned near your pergola. Even if they are not pruned back a Mop Top will not going to grow as tall as a non-standardised tree and therefore it doesn’t need a huge root structure. We actually have a Mop Top outside our office here at Winter Hill under which we park one of our vehicles to keep it cool.
      Winter Hill

  4. Marcia baker says:

    I have three large mop tops that have not been pruned or trimmed ever only trimmed underneath a little for neighbour. Can you sdvise if I prune them back in winter will I have a problem with them shooting buds through the ground everywhere as this is why I have not pruned them as I was told I would have a bad problem.

    • Winter Hill Scribe says:

      During the dormant Winter months is the best time to prune back your Mop Tops. The tendency for them to sucker is more if the roots get disturbed and nicked which can happen when weeding around the base of the tree. Pruning the heads back doesn’t propel them to sucker anymore than they normally would.

  5. Danielle says:

    Are they an evergreen?

  6. liz says:

    currently have untouched robinia would like to create a mop top but are unsure where to start.
    tree planted last spring currently about 8 ft tall straight trunk has been staked for support and very healthy can you help me as were to start.

    • Winter Hill Scribe says:

      Not all robinia’s are ideally suited to being ‘mop topped’ so I would first seek advice to determine the exact species of tree you have. At Winter Hill we carry five different Robinias so perhaps before you start pruning have a look at our website and see if you feel your tree matches any of the varieties identified on our website. ( )
      If your tree is not a ‘Mop Top’ then shaping it to form the balled head would take a lot of work and the result could not be guaranteed.

  7. Garry says:

    Hi There,
    I live in suburban Geelong and have two established mop tops that have become too dominant, pruning has been back to nodules on small branches up to 10mm in diameter in previous years.
    I want confirm that I can be as severe as the pic above is depicted without fear of killing the trees .
    thanks in advance

    • Winter Hill Scribe says:

      So sorry for the delay. Some IT issues at this end. Yes you can prune severely. We currently have two very mature Mop Tops (in 1500 litre pots) that have been pruned so hard it looks like we are trying to grow poles! I will post a picture of them on the Winter Hill Tree Farm Facebook page tomorrow if you are interested.

  8. Garry says:

    Whilst pruning my mop tops I discovered a cavity(from branch being broken in strong winds two summers back) In this cavity there were ants eating into the tree.
    I have removed them,..should I treat the wood and fill the cavity (it could hold a small amount of water).
    best regards,

    • Winter Hill Scribe says:

      Hi Garry,
      I’ve spoken to a couple of our horticulturists and they feel that if you have removed the ants that should be enough. Rather than indicating a problem (or indeed causing a problem) the ants are most likely being opportunistic! They’re more likely to be taking advantage of the warmth and protection of the cavity.
      Hope that helps.

  9. Natalie says:

    It is now the 18th August, have I left it too late to prune back my mob tops?

  10. P. Lawless says:

    We have three “mop tops” approximately six years old and recently successfully pruned them as per your photo and instructions.
    However, (nothing to do with the pruning – we need the space for an extension), we have to remove one completely. Can you please give any advice as to the best way to do this.
    Thank you..

    • Winter Hill Scribe says:

      There are two options open to you. The first is simply to chop it down using a chain saw and then a stump grinder to ensure there is no subsequent suckering.
      Attempting to transplant the tree should only be done in winter. Use a bobcat to dig the tree out and get as much of a rootball as possible. Once you have repositioned the tree give the canopy a heavy prune to centralise more of the trees energy into the root system instead of the foliage. And give it lots of loving water and Seasol!

  11. Rebecca says:


    It is now 2 September and I live in Wagga Wagga, Riverina NSW. I have two large mop top trees that I have not yet pruned. Is it too late to prune them??

    Thanks so much in advance for your advice!

    • Winter Hill Scribe says:

      If the trees are still dormant then you can still prune them. Here at Winter Hill our Mop Tops have just started to come into leaf as a result of the warmer weather and earlier than usual onset of Spring temperatures. Have a look to see if you can see any leaf buds starting to show. If you can then ideally it is best to wait until next Winter before you prune. However if you do choose to prune then I’d advise to prune then a bit ‘softer’ ie do not prune them right down to the knuckle, rather keep the first couple of leaf buds on each branch. Hope that helps.

  12. john grady says:

    we have 24 mop tops in the yard all growing nicely for at least 4 weeks… except one…. which did not even shoot. Will it come good & shoot later on or is it dead & need replacing. Would appreciate your advice.
    John Grady

    • Winter Hill Scribe says:

      I’m afraid that doesn’t sound good. Give the bark and scratch and see if it looks green underneath. If yes then it might just be taking a little while to get used to the crazy weather conditions. If it isn’t green underneath and still has no signs of growth then I think it might be a goner. Sorry!

  13. LAUREN PHILP says:


    I have a row of 8 mop tops which I pruned at the end of winter, 6/8 have grown fresh foliage however 2 have not. Do you have any suggestions on what I can do? They were planted earlier this year and this was their first prune since I have had them.

    Thank you

    • Winter Hill Scribe says:

      Have a look to see if the trees in question are alive under the bark. Scratch a small area of the bark away using your thumbnail. If it is green underneath then they are alive and the leaves should return. If it isn’t green then you could give the branches a light prune and ensure they are getting sufficient water. Given the extraordinary weather conditions and wind we have been experiencing over recent weeks there is a high possibility the trees are confused so ideally give them another month to work themselves out. If you still don’t have foliage then I’d say they haven’t made it.

  14. Cheryl carver says:

    It’s 26th October 2013 we have 3 mop tops which all
    Bloomed perfectly now one mop tops leaves have
    Died but when u look to see if still alive it is.
    The other 2 have no problem. Should we prune
    This back.

    • Winter Hill Scribe says:

      It is a little tricky to give you firm advice but if you have used your thumbnail to scratch the bark and determined that it is green and ‘fleshy’ underneath then that is a good sign. Now is not the ideal time to prune but you could give the branches a light prune and ensure it is getting adequate water and perhaps give it a dose of Seasol. The crazy variations we are experiencing in temperature and the winds of recent weeks may have just sent the tree into a spin of confusion!!

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