How to Prune Barberry Shrubs


One ornamental shrub stands out as a hardy, beautiful addition to your landscape. Gardeners adore barberry shrubs for their stunning foliage ranging from deep green to magenta and for their attraction to birds as a place of refuge. These lovely bushes thrive in full sun and can tolerate just about any kind of pruning a gardener can imagine. The barberry shrub has extremely sharp thorns that can cause considerable damage to unsuspecting hands. Let's look at how to safely prune barberry shrubs.

Step 1

Protect your arms and hands with thick gardening gloves and a long-sleeve shirt. Barberry spines can drive quite deeply into the skin, creating an extremely painful splinter.

Step 2

Decide which type of pruning the barberry requires. A plant exhibiting no new branches at the bottom and spindly branches at the top might need rejuvenation pruning. Rejuvenation pruning involves removing 1/3 of the plant close to the center stem. Thinning involves simply choosing random branches to help control the shape. Hedging involves giving the plant a shearing haircut to form a shape.

Step 3

Use the pruning clippers to remove any areas containing dead foliage or branches. Make a 45-degree cut close to the main trunk of the shrub. Do this removal first so you can judge the evenness of the plant when using the hedge clippers.

Step 4

Use hand-held or electric hedge clippers to shape the plant. For healthy, full growth from top to base, always trim barberry shrubs wider at the base of the plant. This method opens up the lower branches of the shrub to encourage new growth for filling in gaps.

Step 5

Collect all branches, leaves and spines and dispose of these in yard waste bags. Barberry has a tendency to create new plants from cutting and shoots quite easily.

Things You'll Need

  • Thick gardening gloves
  • Long-sleeve shirt
  • Pruning clippers
  • Hedge clippers
  • Yard waste bags


  • University of Minnesota Extension
  • University of Arkansas

Who Can Help

  • Pruning instructions for all types of plants
Keywords: pruning barberry, barberry pruning, prune barberry shrubs

About this Author

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