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How to Prune a Breath of Heaven Shrub

By Melody Lee ; Updated September 21, 2017

The soft needle-like leaves of the Breath of Heaven (Coleonema pulchellum/pulchrum) are fragrant and evergreen. In spring, the shrub is covered with small star-shaped flowers in shades of pink. It can be used as filler in a flower bed or as a specimen plant, as well as planted in a grouping. Breath of Heaven is a billowy shrub with thin supple limbs. It grows 5 feet tall and wide in a rounded mass and should be left in its natural form so the limbs can move in the breeze. Pruning should be limited to removal of weak growth and slight shaping after blooming.

Remove dead, damaged or diseased limbs with hand pruners or lopping shears. Diseased limbs may have dead or dying foliage, splits in the wood or bark, oozing patches in the bark or cankers.

Use hand pruners or lopping shears to cut back any long or wayward limbs that spoil the rounded shape of the shrub. Make cuts on a 30-degree angle just above a joint or bud.

Use pruning shears to lightly trim the ends of the limbs to enhance the shrub’s shape.

Clean debris from around shrub. Destroy dead or diseased trimmings to inhibit the spread of disease.


Things You Will Need

  • Hand pruners
  • Lopping shears
  • Pruning shears


  • Cut limbs up to ½ inch in diameter with hand pruners and cut limbs up to 1 inch with lopping shears. Use pruning shears to trim limbs.
  • If needle-like foliage irritates your skin, you should wear gloves when pruning Breath of Heaven shrubs.

About the Author


Melody Lee holds a degree in landscape design, is a Florida Master Gardener, and has more than 30 years of gardening experience. She currently works as a writer and copy editor. Her previous jobs include reporter, photographer and editor for a weekly newspaper.