How to Prune a Double File Viburnum


Over 100 species of viburnum exist. Double file viburnum, or Japanese snowball bush, grows 8 to 10 feet high in full sun to light shade. In the middle of spring, white or off-white lacecap flowers bloom, giving the garden or landscape some early color. The color continues in the late summer, when the plant produces bright red fruit clusters. In the fall, the plant turns reddish-purple. Double file viburnum grows horizontally, providing a tiered appearance. Prune the shrub to improve its appearance and make it healthier.

Step 1

Use a hand pruner when heading the plant because they will handle the small shoots and branches well. Use a saw when thinning the double file viburnum and cutting larger branches.

Step 2

Head double file viburnum by cutting or pinching off a portion of branches. This will make new growth bushier. Use hand pruners to cut above a node, which is the point where stems, leaves or buds attach to the branch. You can also use your thumb and index finger to pull off the ends.

Step 3

Thin out the plant to allow more sunlight and air circulation to reach the middle. It produces less regrowth than heading but lets the viburnum retain its natural tiered shape.

Step 4

Remove unwanted shoots, stems and branches at their base. Place the cut at the collar, where the bark flares out. This is where the wound will heal the fastest.

Step 5

Prune diseased, broken or dead branches no matter where they grow in the plant. Cut them off at their base. They are blocking sunlight from other branches and may also spread disease to other parts of the bush.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't cut away too much of the shrub annually. Never leave torn, ragged edges. Don't leave stumps or stubs when you prune.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Hand pruners
  • Pruning saw


  • University of Ilinois Extension
  • A Garden of Possibilities
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Keywords: viburnum, doublefile viburnum, prune double file viburnum

About this Author

Kelly Shetsky has been a broadcast journalist for more than ten years, researching, writing, producing and reporting daily on many topics. In addition, she writes for several websites, specializing in medical, health and fitness, arts and entertainment, travel and business-related topics. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Marist College.