The Q&A Archives: Pruning A Bitter Almond Shrub

Question: I planted a small Bitter Almond bush three years ago on the southwest corner of my house. It had those light pink flowers the first year, almost none the second, and was full this spring. It is not a healthy looking plant and has no shape. I was wondering how and when to cut it back in hopes it will revive!

Answer: I think the plant you have is Prunus tenella, or Dwarf Russian Almond or Flowering Almond. It is an ungainly shrub in its natural shape and can be difficult to keep looking tidy. The best time to prune it would be immediately after it blooms. Each spring, trim away some of the oldest stems at the base to encourage new growth from the bottom, and tip back any branches that are extremely long or awkward. Trimming later in the season would remove the blooming wood for the following year, so this might explain why your plant did not bloom much in the second year.

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