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How to Prune Toyon

By Megan Smith ; Updated September 21, 2017

Toyon, also known as "California holly," is an evergreen shrub that is a member of the rose family. Toyon can be identified by its red berry clusters and small, white flowers. Toyon should be pruned once a year to keep dead growths from stunting the shrub.

Wear proper pruning gear. Toyon leaves have sharp spines on the ends and will cut or scrape skin fairly easily. To protect yourself, always handle toyon shrubs and clippings with gardening gloves, and wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants while pruning.

Prune your toyon bush during the winter to get rid of dead branches and to remove any large branches to use as decorations around the home. Winter is the safest time to prune your toyon bush because growth will be minimal.

Prune your toyon bush lightly throughout the year to keep its shape, if desired. Toyon bushes can be pruned into shapes or hedges, but avoid pruning the lower branches shorter than the higher branches. This will protect the toyon bush from disease.

Start pruning on the inside of the bush and work outward. Cut directly above any new leaf buds growing on the branch if it is not completely dead, or all the way to the base of the branch if the rest is unsalvageable.

Remove all clippings from the ground to promote soil absorption. You can discard old clippings, or recycle them into mulch if desired.


Things You Will Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Gardening gloves
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Pants


  • Cut toyon clippings into smaller pieces for easier disposal.


  • Keep pruning shears and sharp toyon clippings out of the reach of children.

About the Author


Megan Smith has been a freelance writer and editor since 2006. She writes about health, fitness, travel, beauty and grooming topics for various print and Internet publications. Smith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing from New York University.