How to Prune Jesuit's Bark


Jesuit's bark, also referred to as marsh elder, is a deciduous shrub found growing from Massachusetts to Florida and down into Texas. Used to help shoreline erosion control along marshes, it is also used as nesting sites for birds like the red-winged blackbird and marsh wren. Jesuit's bark grows up to 8 feet in height and has succulent leaves that are lance-shaped to egg-shaped leaves with greenish-white flowers. Jesuit's bark is found growing in high salt marsh areas and along muddy shores and dunes where the roots are not subject to extended flooding.

Step 1

Prune jesuit's bark in the fall and after the leaves and flowers have dropped off the shrub. Remove competing vegetation and weeds surrounding the base of the shrub to allow vigorous growth the following season.

Step 2

Prune back jesuit's bark with pruning shears. Ideal for shrubs, pruning shears can create cuts up to ¾ inch in diameter. Thin back the plant by cutting off broken and weak branches to their point of origin. Thinning creates a more open shrub and highlights the branch's internal makeup.

Step 3

Cut back all lateral stems that cross each other and are old or gnarled. Remove diseased and pest-infested branches by cutting off the entire branch. This will prevent infecting the shrub from infestation and disease.

Step 4

Prune to one main stem and remove competing shoots on young jesuit's bark shrubs. This essential process will free up needed nutrients to the central branch and create a hardier shrub. Remove all sucker shoots, or small stems growing from the root of the shrub as soon as they are visible.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear protective gardening gloves when using pruning shears.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears


  • Jesuit's Bark Plant Guide: USDA
  • Texas A&M University Extension: Proper Pruning Techniques
Keywords: pruning jesuit's bark, cutting jesuit's bark, jesuit's bark

About this Author

Callie Barber is a writer and photographer in North Carolina. Her work has appeared in Forbes and Automotive News magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.