How to Prune Shrubs


Although shrubs may be pruned simply to maintain a neat shape, pruning will also encourage the production and increase the quality of ornamental features such as flowers, fruit, stems and foliage.

Whilst some shrubs, such as the evergreen Christmas box (Sarcococca) require little in the way of pruning, the majority of shrubs respond well to this treatment, producing strong, healthy growth and vigorous flowering.

In general, flowering shrubs should be pruned just after the last of their blooms have died off. However, cutting back late-flowering shrubs such as hydrangea and buddleja at this time may make them susceptible to frost damage, and so pruning should be delayed until the spring. Shrubs such as Japanese spiraea (Spiraea japonica) that flower on the current season's growth should also be pruned in spring to encourage the growth of new flowering stems.

In this section, we take a look at the basic principles of pruning shrubs, along with advice on how hard to prune, plus tips for individual plants.

Basic Principles
Guidelines on pruning the four major types of deciduous shrubs.
How Hard to Prune
Find out how to adjust the extent of pruning to create the most rewarding results.
Pruning Ornamental Shrubs
Detailed advice on how to prune a range of shrubs, including camellia, hydrangea, fuchsia, heather and laurel.