How to Prune Barberry Bushes


Barberries are popular landscape bushes because they grow well under most conditions and are easy to care for. Their uniform growth makes them suitable for hedges and borders. Barberries are thorny, so take care when pruning and trimming. Wear gloves and protective clothing with long sleeves to avoid scratches and prickles. In hedges, barberries may need trimming two to three times a year to keep their shape. In other usage, barberry bushes only require minimal pruning, late in the winter while the plant is still dormant.

Step 1

Prune Barberries late in the winter before new growth begins in the spring. Remove dead and dying branches with a small, folding saw or shears. Cut back to a healthy bud or side branch. If the branches are diseased, clean the tools with rubbing alcohol or diluted bleach solution to prevent the spread of disease.

Step 2

Remove dead and diseased branches from the area to prevent the spread of disease and avoid attracting pests.

Step 3

Prune away the weakest stems at ground level to thin the bush and allow in light and air. Thin interior branches as needed.

Step 4

Remove the tips of branches to encourage growth. Barberry bushes will need to be shaped two to three times a year to maintain a compact hedge. Shape the bush with clippers or by shearing with a hedge trimmer.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Protective clothing
  • Pruning shears
  • Folding saw
  • Hedge trimmer, optional
  • Rubbing alcohol or dilute bleach solution


  • NC State Horticulture: Pruning Basics
  • WSU Spokane County Extension: Pruning Deciduous Shrubs
  • Clemson Extension: Barberry
Keywords: pruning barberry, trimming barberry hedge, shape barberry bush

About this Author

Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and content around the web. Watkins has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.