How to Prune Cotoneaster Shrubs


Cotoneasters are fast growing shrubs that are hardy in Zones 5 to 7. They can grow from 2 to 15 feet tall, and 4 to 15 feet wide, depending on variety. Spreading varieties are used as groundcovers and upright varieties are used as hedges. Cotoneasters have an irregular form with long drooping branches. The shrubs look best in their natural form and require little pruning. Numerous small white flowers cover Contoneaster bushes in the spring, followed by showy red berries in the fall. Prune in late winter or early spring before the flowers appear. Cotoneasters can be lightly pruned after flowering to encourage a second bloom.

Step 1

Use lopping shears for limbs larger than ½ inch in diameter and hand pruners for smaller limbs. Remove broken or damaged limbs with lopping shears or hand pruners, cutting on a 30-degree angle at a bud or joint.

Step 2

Remove old, unproductive limbs at ground level with the lopping shears.

Step 3

Use lopping shears or hand pruners to remove any extremely long limbs that spoil the shape of the bush. Prune the limbs at a bud or joint on a 30-degree angle.

Step 4

If a bush is overgrown or spindly, you can use lopping shears to cut all the limbs back to 2 feet tall to encourage new growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Lopping shears
  • Hand pruners
  • Shovel


  • Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs

Who Can Help

  • Growing Beautiful Cotoneasters
Keywords: Cotoneaster, prune Cotoneaster, Cotoneaster shrub, prune Cotoneaster shrub

About this Author

Melody Lee worked as a newspaper reporter, copywriter and editor for 5 years. In addition, she has edited magazine articles and books. Lee holds a degree in landscape design and is a Florida master gardener. She has more than 25 years of gardening experience, which includes working at nurseries and greenhouses.