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How to Prune Barberry Shrubs

By S.F. Heron ; Updated September 21, 2017

One ornamental shrub stands out as a hardy, beautiful addition to your landscape. Gardeners adore barberry shrubs for their stunning foliage ranging from deep green to magenta and for their attraction to birds as a place of refuge. These lovely bushes thrive in full sun and can tolerate just about any kind of pruning a gardener can imagine. The barberry shrub has extremely sharp thorns that can cause considerable damage to unsuspecting hands. Let's look at how to safely prune barberry shrubs.

Protect your arms and hands with thick gardening gloves and a long-sleeve shirt. Barberry spines can drive quite deeply into the skin, creating an extremely painful splinter.

Decide which type of pruning the barberry requires. A plant exhibiting no new branches at the bottom and spindly branches at the top might need rejuvenation pruning. Rejuvenation pruning involves removing 1/3 of the plant close to the center stem. Thinning involves simply choosing random branches to help control the shape. Hedging involves giving the plant a shearing haircut to form a shape.

Use the pruning clippers to remove any areas containing dead foliage or branches. Make a 45-degree cut close to the main trunk of the shrub. Do this removal first so you can judge the evenness of the plant when using the hedge clippers.

Use hand-held or electric hedge clippers to shape the plant. For healthy, full growth from top to base, always trim barberry shrubs wider at the base of the plant. This method opens up the lower branches of the shrub to encourage new growth for filling in gaps.

Collect all branches, leaves and spines and dispose of these in yard waste bags. Barberry has a tendency to create new plants from cutting and shoots quite easily.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Thick gardening gloves
  • Long-sleeve shirt
  • Pruning clippers
  • Hedge clippers
  • Yard waste bags

Tip

  • Barberry should be pruned before the growing season. If tree cover encompasses this plant over time, consider moving the barberry to a full sun location to experience the beautiful leaf coloration fully.