How to Prune Barberry Bushes & Spirea


Spirea and barberry are standards in the home garden. They offer structure, texture and color to the garden. In addition, spirea puts forth delicate white flowers, while barberry can have unusual foliage color such as chartreuse and bright red. As different as they are from each other, spirea and barberry become leggy over time and require pruning. Careful pruning requires consideration for every cut made.

Step 1

Prune spirea and barberry right after they flower in spring to ensure strong flowering the next season.

Step 2

Remove dead or weak branches with hand pruners. Cut branches back to healthy growth or to the ground.

Step 3

Trim out any branches that cross each other.

Step 4

Cut out branches in crowded areas to thin growth. Trim no more than one-third of the branches.

Step 5

Trim the top of the remaining branches to reduce the size of the shrub. Skip this step if you don’t want to reduce the size of the plant.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don’t put diseased branches on the compost pile. Bag them and put them out for pickup.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruners
  • Heavy garden gloves


  • Maryland Cooperative Extension: Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: pruning spirea, pruning barberry, pruning ornamental shrubs

About this Author

Robert Lewis has been writing do-it-yourself and garden-related articles since 2000. He holds a B.A. in history from the University of Maryland and has training experience in finance, garden center retailing and teaching English as a second language. Lewis is an antiques dealer specializing in Chinese and Japanese export porcelain.