How to Shape a Japanese Blueberry Shrub Into a Tree Shape


Japanese blueberry, known botanically as elaeocarpus decipiens, is an species of flowering and fruiting evergreen shrub in the malvales order of plants which includes hibiscus, cacao and linden trees. Japanese blueberry are grown as ornamentals (not edibles) for their large size and screening qualities reaching up to 60 feet in height and 30 feet in spread at maturity. It is easily pruned into and maintained in a traditional tree form.

Step 1

Remove all branches, water sprouts and sucker growth from the bottom one-third to one-half of the trunk. Place straight, flat cuts just outside the swollen branch collar on larger branches and flush cuts for small branches or suckers. Refrain from making concave cuts into the main tree trunk as it will delay healing of the cut wound invite disease.

Step 2

Remove any diseased, damaged or dying branches or foliage as you prune, cutting down to healthy wood. Remove each branch as you work before placing the next cut so that your field of vision in the canopy is clear and you are pruning only what must be removed.

Step 3

Shape the canopy of your Japanese blueberry if desired into a pyramidal or rounded shape by pruning the ends of lateral branches. Work around the tree as you prune to ensure a symmetrical and pleasing result. Repeat shape pruning once a year or as needed in the fall or spring.

Things You'll Need

  • Secateurs
  • Long handled loppers
  • Pole saw


  • Mortellaro's Nursery: Plant Details
  • USDA Plant Database Profile: Elaeocarpus decipiens
  • University of Florida: Picture of Elaeocarpus decipiens
Keywords: Japanese blueberry shrub tree, pruning Japanese blueberry into tree form, shaping elaeocarpus decipiens into tree

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.