How to Prune Berberis


Berberis is a class of shrubs growing 2 to 6 feet high with delicate yellow blossoms and attractive fall foliage. The tough thorns keep deer away and provide color on the bare stems in the winter. Gardeners must prune this shrub to keep it healthy and in shape. Since it blooms in spring, however, this requires some knowledge on when to prune. Otherwise, you could end up cutting off next year's blossoms.

Step 1

Choose the right time to prune your berberis shrub. This is a spring-flowering shrub, which means that blossoms set in summer for the subsequent year. The key time to prune, then, is in the summer right after this year's blossoms fade and next year's blossoms set.

Step 2

Sterilize your pruning shears before using them by dipping the blades in rubbing alcohol. If you notice any diseases such as leaf spot on your plant, dip the blades in the rubbing alcohol between each cut.

Step 3

Cut out diseased, broken or dead branches. Cut smoothly through the branch at a 45-degree angle. If you wish to remove the branch completely, cut right outside the root collar. Otherwise, make the cut right next to a bud.

Step 4

Cut off old branches that no longer produce leaves or flowers all that well. This will increase circulation through the bush.


  • Iowa State University Extension: Pruning Ornamental Shrubs
  • Cornell University Cooperative Extension: Pruning Spring-flowering Shrubs
  • University of California at Davis: Berberis
Keywords: pruning berberis, pruning spring-flowering shrubs, berberis care

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Sarah Morse recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English language and literature. She has been freelancing for three months and got her start writing for an environmental website.