How to Prune a European Cranberry Bush


The European cranberry bush (Viburnum opulus) is a deciduous multi-stem shrub. The species grow 10 feet tall and wide. Dwarf varieties grow 1 to 3 feet tall, compact varieties grow 5 to 6 feet tall, and large varieties grow 10 to 13 feet tall. European cranberry bushes have an upright form, but larger varieties tend to spread with age. They are used as specimens, in groups and in hedges. European cranberry bushes bloom in late spring to early summer with white flowers. Red berries follow in early fall. Some varieties have yellow berries. You can prune European cranberry bushes immediately after flowering, which will decrease the number of berries, or after the fruit falls from the bush in early winter.

Step 1

Use hand pruners for limbs up to ½ inch in diameter and lopping shears for larger limbs. Make cuts at a 30-degree angle at a bud or joint. Use hedging shears to shape plants used in a hedge.

Step 2

Thin out old and weak limbs by cutting them at ground level with hand pruners or lopping shears. This increases air circulation and encourages new growth.

Step 3

Remove damaged, dead or diseased limbs with lopping shears or hand pruners. Signs of disease include cankers, slimy spots in the bark, split wood, or dead or dying leaves.

Step 4

Prune limbs that are rubbing or crossed with hand pruners or lopping shears to prevent future damage to involved limbs.

Step 5

Trim any elongated or drooping limbs that spoil the shape of the shrub with lopping shears or hand pruners. Cut these limbs back to the first bud or joint within the main part of the foliage.

Step 6

Use hedge pruners to shear bushes that are part of a hedge. Trim the foliage back evenly and smoothly to maintain the desired shape and form of the bush and hedge.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruners
  • Lopping shears
  • Hedging shears


  • University of Delaware Extension
  • Purdue Horticulture Department

Who Can Help

  • European Cranberry Bush
Keywords: European cranberry bush, prune European cranberry bush, Viburnum opulus, prune Viburnum opulus

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.