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How to Prune Spirea & Barberry Bushes

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How to Prune Spirea & Barberry Bushes

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Overview

Landscape bushes require regular pruning for plant health and to retain the plant's appearance. Shrubs become one of the easiest plants to care for with proper grooming. Pruning opens up in the interior of the plant to light and air circulation. This limits disease and produces plenty of new growth. Spirea and barberry bushes differ greatly in the method of pruning. Both shrubs benefit from the gardener learning how to prune to increase the health of the plant.

Pruning Barberry

Step 1

Schedule pruning of the barberry bush in late spring after the barberry finishes blooming. Pruning at this time allows the plant time during the warm season to produce new growth.

Step 2

Remove diseased or dying sections of the plant by cutting back the area to the nearest healthy portion of the shrub. Select the correct tool for the branch size. Clippers cut branches up to 1/2 inch in diameter. Pruning loppers cut through branches up to 2 inches in diameter. Use a pruning saw for cuts of any size and to reach in tight spaces.

Step 3

Step back and take a look at the overall shape of the barberry bush. Decide if you prefer to shear the barberry into a hedge or if you prefer to retain the plants natural growth habit. Barberry shrubs grow quickly and respond to shearing with rampant new shoots. The best shrub shape features a plant with a narrower top that tapers to a wider bottom. Wider shrub bottoms allow sunlight reach the bottom branches to improve shrub thickness all the way to the ground.

Step 4

Shear the barberry bush into the recommended shape using measured sweeps of the hedge clippers or thin the shrub using hand-held clippers or loppers. Remove alternate branches throughout the bush. Make hand-pruning cuts where these selected branches adjoin main stems. Place cuts flush with the nearest branch or directly above an outward-facing leaf bud.

Step 5

Collect all clippings in yard waste bags. Barberry cuttings root easily in garden soil and can quickly become a nuisance, according to Todd Forrest of the New York Botanical Garden.

Pruning Spirea

Step 1

Schedule pruning immediately after the spirea blooms for the season. According to University of Missouri Extension, because they Do not shear spirea with the hedge clippers. This plant looks best when pruning mimics that natural shape of the bush.

Step 2

Prune back damaged limbs first to the healthiest section of the branch or to the shrub trunk. Cut next to the adjoining branch or slightly above a new leaf bud.

Step 3

Examine the shrub to determine which branches produce sparse, thin foliage. Remove these branches by cutting flush with the main trunk or largest branch. Branches with little growth indicate old wood. Retain the healthiest branches throughout the plant. Balance thinning throughout the plant to create an evenly groomed shrub.

Step 4

Head off long strangling branches after thinning the entire shrub. This pruning method requires cut placement above an outward facing leaf bud.

Step 5

Collect and dispose of spirea clippings in yard waste bags. Never leave pruned branches lying in the garden bed since this invites pests to snack on clippings.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning clippers
  • Pruning loppers
  • Pruning shears
  • Pruning saw
  • Yard waste bags

References

  • University of Missouri Extension: Pruning Ornamental Shrubs
  • University of Maine Extension: Pruning Woody Landscape Plants
  • New York Times: Cuttings; Barberries Know No Bounds, Alas
Keywords: pruning spirrhea, pruning spirea, pruning barberry

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.