How to Prune Potentilla Shrubs


Potentilla (Potentilla fruticosa), also known as Shrubby Cinquefoil, comes in more than 100 varieties. Potentilla shrubs grow from 2 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 5 feet wide, depending on the variety. The yellow, white or red flowers bloom on the current season's growth, so prune the plants in late winter or early spring before the new growth starts. Do not severely prune and shape Potentillas, since they have a loose, open form. Rejuvenate straggly and ragged plants every 3 to 4 years to encourage vigorous new growth.

Step 1

Cut limbs larger than 1/2 inch in diameter with lopping shears. Cut smaller limbs with hand pruners. Cut limbs at a 30 degree angle near a bud or joint.

Step 2

Remove dead, damaged or diseased limbs at ground level with lopping shears or hand pruners. Signs of disease are moldy, peeling bark, cankers, splits in the bark or wood and dead foliage.

Step 3

Cut back older, nonproductive limbs within 6 inches of ground level with hand pruners or lopping shears.

Step 4

Prune any limbs that obstruct walkways within 6 inches of ground level with lopping shears or hand pruners.

Step 5

Rejuvenate older plants that have lost their vigor by removing all the limbs within 6 inches of the ground with lopping shears or hand pruners. The plant will develop new growth for a healthier and more attractive plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruners
  • Lopping shears


  • University of Wisconsin Extension: How To Properly Prune Deciduous Shrubs
  • Questions on Potentilla

Who Can Help

  • Potentilla or Shrubby Cinquefoil
Keywords: potentilla, prune potentilla, Shrubby Cinquefoil

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.