The northern bayberry is quite an interesting shrub. It is considered a deciduous to semi-evergreen plant. The bayberry's average height without pruning is 8 feet. What makes this medium shrub so interesting is that its dark green leaves are aromatic. The fruit which is approximately 1/8 inch in diameter has a hard waxy coating which is also aromatic. The aromatic fruit often remains on the plant until spring. Swallows, eastern meadowlarks, and red-bellied woodpeckers love the fruit of the northern bayberry.
Understand the reasons for pruning the northern bayberry. The reasons for pruning are to remove dead or dying branches, to initiate new growth, and to maintain shape or control size.
Prune any dead or diseased growth immediately. Dispose of the dead plant material; do not place it in your compost bin.
Remove one of the heavy canes at the ground level of the plant. This should be done in March or April. It will initiate new growth which will lead to a denser shrub.
Prune the northern bayberry in spring and fall to maintain its shape and size. Cut back any stray branches using the tool that is appropriate to the size of the branch to be cut.
Place the pruned plant material in your compost bin. You may want to dry, crush, and save the leaves from any pruned branches. Place them in a bowl, and enjoy their beautiful fragrance.