How to Prune Mapleleaf Viburnum


Mapleleaf viburnum, viburnum acerifolium, is an attractive shrub year-round. In spring, dark- to medium-green maple-leaf-shaped leaves emerge followed by white to cream flowers that can persist through August. In July purple berries form that can last, if the birds can resist them, through the winter. In fall, the mapleleaf viburnum's leaves turn a deep purpley-red color that contrasts nicely with most shade trees' fall hues of orange, yellow and red. Mapleleaf viburnums don't need much pruning but if you decide to prune do so in early fall through late spring. Pruning in summer stresses the shrub while winter pruned shrubs may suffer cold damage. They are happiest allowed to form thickets 3 to 4 feet wide and 6 feet high. Properly sited (where they can sprawl with abandon), your mapleleaf viburnum should not need any pruning in its lifetime. However, you may want to remove suckers or prune to maintain the shrub's health.

Step 1

Prune viburnums in spring or fall. Avoid summer pruning to prevent wilting due to moisture loss from pruning cuts.

Step 2

Use pruning shears to remove outer branches. Make cuts 1 inch above a bud (where leaves and stems emerge) or branch. Remove broken, damaged, diseased or dead branches.

Step 3

Thin out your mapleleaf viburnum with loppers or a pruning saw by cutting stems (woody growth that originates from the crown, kind of like thin trunks) back to the ground. Make cuts as close to the crown (the point of the plant where the roots attach to live growth. This is where above-ground growth originates from) of the plant as possible. Choose older stems or stems with dead or dying branches.

Step 4

Remove suckers (vegetative growth that springs from the roots of the parent plant) in the spring as they start to sprout. If they emerge in a lawn area, simply mow them down to the ground. Or you can use a shovel to sever suckers from the parent plants. Drive the shovel 3 to 4 inches into the ground as close to the sucker as possible. You want to do this on the parent plant side. You can then pull the sucker out of the ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Loppers
  • Pruning saw
  • Lawn mower
  • Shovel


  • Viburnums are versiatile shrubs; Ken Twombly
  • Earth friendly gardening and landscaping; viburnums in the landscape
  • USDA fact sheet; cultivation and general info about mapleleaf viburnum

Who Can Help

  • North Carolina State University; pruning shrubs
  • University of Minnesota extension; guide to pruning shrubs
Keywords: Pruning mapleleaf viburnums, Pruning viburnums, Mapleleaf viburnum