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How to Prune Japanese Aucuba

By Ma Wen Jie ; Updated September 21, 2017
Well maintained Japanese aucuba.

Japanese aucuba is a cold-tolerant shrub that grows slowly and evenly and rarely requires pruning. However, in some cases it may grow off center or you may want to change the overall shape of the shrub. It may be that your well-established Japanese aububa has simply grown too big and needs to be reduced in size. Pruning is easy with the proper tools and preparation.

Look at the Japanese aucuba from all angles to establish what parts need to be pruned.

Sterilize a lopper. A lopper is a long-handled pruner with a curved cutting surface. The lopper can be sterilized in one part bleach to nine parts water.

Reach with the lopper through the bush to the base of the branch to be cropped. Place the cutting surface as close to the shrub base as possible.

Clip the branch to be pruned. Try to leave the rounded area where the branch attaches to the trunk or larger branch to avoid prolonged shrub healing.

Step back and look at how the shape of the shrub has changed and continue pruning until the shrub is the desired shape.


Things You Will Need

  • Lopper
  • Bucket
  • Bleach


  • If you end up with a leafless area, don't worry. The leaves of the bush will quickly grow in to fill the bare area.


  • Japanese aucuba is mildly poisonous. Be sure to wash your hands and keep children and pets from consuming any of the clippings.

About the Author


Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.