The China Doll (Radermachera sinica) is a compact shrub that grows well outdoors in zones 9 and 10 on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone Map. In other regions, it is a popular houseplant. China Doll has an upright growing habit with glossy green foliage. It needs bright light, whether grown indoors or out. As the China Doll matures, it has a tendency to stretch out, with wayward stems and a generally leggy habit. If you grow China Doll outdoors, prune it in spring or summer. Prune the indoor-grown China Dolls anytime.
Prune stems that have no foliage -- or sparse foliage -- back to a main branch.
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Remove any dead stems by cutting them completely off.
Cut the China Doll to the height you desire by clipping tall stems back to 1/2 inch above a leaf. The plant will produce new growth from this point. If you want the plant to grow thicker, cut back to an inward-pointing leaf. If you want it to grow wider, choose an outward-growing leaf. Safely cut the entire plant to 12 inches in height.
Fill in bare spots toward the bottom of the China Doll by pruning bottom stems back to a leaf. Even the removal of 1 inch of stem will encourage the plant to produce new growth.
Cut the amount of water you give the China Doll in half until you see new growth. Because of the decreased amount of foliage the plant requires less water.