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How to Prune Potentilla Shrubs

Potentilla (Potentilla fruticosa), also known as Shrubby Cinquefoil, comes in more than 100 varieties. Potentilla shrubs grow from 2 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 5 feet wide, depending on the variety. The yellow, white or red flowers bloom on the current season’s growth, so prune the plants in late winter or early spring before the new growth starts. Do not severely prune and shape Potentillas, since they have a loose, open form. Rejuvenate straggly and ragged plants every 3 to 4 years to encourage vigorous new growth.

Cut limbs larger than 1/2 inch in diameter with lopping shears. Cut smaller limbs with hand pruners. Cut limbs at a 30 degree angle near a bud or joint.

Remove dead, damaged or diseased limbs at ground level with lopping shears or hand pruners. Signs of disease are moldy, peeling bark, cankers, splits in the bark or wood and dead foliage.

Cut back older, nonproductive limbs within 6 inches of ground level with hand pruners or lopping shears.

Prune any limbs that obstruct walkways within 6 inches of ground level with lopping shears or hand pruners.

Rejuvenate older plants that have lost their vigor by removing all the limbs within 6 inches of the ground with lopping shears or hand pruners. The plant will develop new growth for a healthier and more attractive plant.

Prune Potentilla Shrubs

Potentilla (Potentilla fruticosa), also known as cinquefoil, is a cane shrub grown largely for its pretty, long-lasting blossoms. The stems fill thickly with gray-green leaves to create a rounded mound of foliage. Initial growth is rapid, but slows as the shrub ages. They develop branch frameworks where flowers grow year after year, and generally require minimal pruning. Prune dead wood to ground level. Check to make sure a stem is dead by scratching the bark with a fingernail. Remove the three oldest stems in the spring of the potentilla's third growing season if you want to control the height or shape of the shrub. Clip off about one-third of the stems in total.


Do not remove more than 1/3 of the plant during one season. You can prune Potentillas any time, but the plants may have fewer blooms or not bloom at all the following year. Clean debris from around plant. Destroy dead or diseased trimmings to prevent the spread of disease. Shred and compost healthy green trimmings.

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