How to Prune Broom Snakeweed


Broom snakeweed is a low growing, semi-evergreen shrub, native to arid plains from Canada down to the deserts of Northern Mexico. Its bright green, wispy foliage, abundant yellow flowers and compact, rounded form make broom snakeweed stand out in the landscape. When found in large numbers on rangeland, this plant is an indicator of overgrazing. Broom snakeweed can survive harsh conditions with little care, but can also quickly become invasive. In the right situation, it can make a handsome and nearly invincible ground cover. Proper pruning and growing conditions will keep this vigorous beauty in bounds.

Step 1

Shear away the top inch of semi-softwood in late fall or winter from mature individual plants with pruning shears to keep them in scale with other plants in your garden. Use the plant's rounded shape as your guide for a natural look.

Step 2

Trim away the outer 1 to 2 inches of growth from masses of mature plants with hedge trimmers in late fall to early winter to control size and encourage bushy compact growth.

Step 3

Use a string weed trimmer to cut mature plants used as ground cover down to within one foot of the ground, every other year, in early fall. This will prevent them from setting seed, which is a good idea if you don't want broom snakeweed to spread.

Tips and Warnings

  • Broom snakeweed is toxic to livestock in large quantities but is seldom ingested by pets or children because of its strong turpentine-like odor and taste. Don't plant this aggressive shrub in a mixed bed because it will quickly overwhelm neighboring plants. Don't irrigate broom snakeweed after the plants are established unless you want them to spread rampantly.

Things You'll Need

  • String weed trimmer
  • Hedge trimmers
  • Pruning shears


  • Utah State University, Range Plants of Utah
  • Native Plants for Southwestern Landscapes; Judy Mielke; 1993
Keywords: pruning broom snakeweed, pruning snakeweed, irrigate broom snakeweed

About this Author

Malia Marin is a landscape designer and freelance writer, specializing in sustainable design, native landscapes and environmental education. She holds a Masters in landscape architecture, and her professional experience includes designing parks, trails and residential landscapes. Marin has written numerous articles, over the past ten years, about landscape design for local newspapers.