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How to Trim Winterberry Holly

holly image by david hughes from

Whether you grow winterberry holly for its beauty in your landscape or you enjoy bringing the holly and berry stems indoors for decorating displays, these shrubs perform reliably and energetically in most growing areas. A winterberry holly shrub left to grow unrestrained may reach heights and widths of up to 9 feet after many years of growing. Prune winterberry shrubs lightly in late winter or early spring to shape them, keeping in mind that pruning will reduce future berries.

Inspect the winterberry holly shrub for broken or rubbing branches while the shrub is still dormant. Look for branches that appear damaged or diseased and trim these branches off at the point where they intersect with the next largest branch. Using the same technique, remove any branches that cross others and rub.

Remove branches along the sides and bottom of the winterberry holly shrub to shape the shrub as you desire. Many gardeners choose a rounded shape for their winterberry shrubs. Trim away only as much of the branches as is necessary to achieve the shape you desire (to avoid reducing future berries).

Trim winterberry holly shrubs on top to control the height of the shrubs, if you desire. Remember not to remove any more length than necessary from the stems because this may reduce the number of berries the shrubs produce during the upcoming growing season.

Discard the branches and stems you trim away.

Trim Winterberry Holly

Stand back about 10 to 15 feet and examine the holly. Look for branches that stick out and are not uniform with the other branches. Cut off one of the branches to the ground with your shears. Examine your winterberry to look for branches that are dead, weak and spindly. Remove branches that are thicker than 1 inch in diameter; these are your oldest stems and will not produce as much new growth as your newest stems. Stand back 10 to 15 feet again, then prune branches throughout the bush so the winterberry holly still maintains a uniform appearance.


Some gardeners choose not to prune a winterberry holly shrub at all to avoid cutting away future berries.


If you wish to trim branches to use indoors for decor, trim the branches at any point. Realize that you may reduce future berries when you do this, however.

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