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How to Prune Northern Bayberry

By Paula Ezop ; Updated September 21, 2017

The northern bayberry is quite an interesting shrub. It is considered a deciduous to semi-evergreen plant. The bayberry's average height without pruning is 8 feet. What makes this medium shrub so interesting is that its dark green leaves are aromatic. The fruit which is approximately 1/8 inch in diameter has a hard waxy coating which is also aromatic. The aromatic fruit often remains on the plant until spring. Swallows, eastern meadowlarks, and red-bellied woodpeckers love the fruit of the northern bayberry.

Understand the reasons for pruning the northern bayberry. The reasons for pruning are to remove dead or dying branches, to initiate new growth, and to maintain shape or control size.

Prune any dead or diseased growth immediately. Dispose of the dead plant material; do not place it in your compost bin.

Remove one of the heavy canes at the ground level of the plant. This should be done in March or April. It will initiate new growth which will lead to a denser shrub.

Prune the northern bayberry in spring and fall to maintain its shape and size. Cut back any stray branches using the tool that is appropriate to the size of the branch to be cut.

Place the pruned plant material in your compost bin. You may want to dry, crush, and save the leaves from any pruned branches. Place them in a bowl, and enjoy their beautiful fragrance.


Things You Will Need

  • Hand-pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Pole pruner
  • Pruning saw


  • The free form of the northern bayberry is a wonderful element in your landscape design.

About the Author


Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational column "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in "Oconee Today," a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies," and her children's chapter book, "The Adventures of Penelope Star," will be published by Wiggles Press. Ezop has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.