The Q&A Archives: pruning (shearing ) shrubs

Question: We recently planted some of your dwarf burning bushes, magic carpet spirea, Royal Burgundy Barberry, Little Rascal Holly (male) and Harlequin butterfly bush and would like to know a little more about the care of these plants, particularly when and how to prune. We purchased these plants at Johnson Garden Center in Wichita. Also, we were very impressed with the healthiness of the plants that we purchased and plan to get more next spring. Thanks for your help.

Answer: Dwarf burning bush and the holly and the barberry should not need much if any routine pruning. They all have a nice and fairly symmetrical natural shape. The spirea should be pruned in early spring to remove any winter damaged branches and then as needed to make it somewhat symmetrical and compact. Expect to remove about two thirds of the plant or so. Then in summer, right after it blooms heavily the first time, shear it off lightly to encourage additional blooming later in the summer. The butterfly bush should be cut back to about a foot tall in early spring. Then tip prune once or twice as it regrows to encourage dense growth and branching. This plant blooms on the new growth, so do not prune it later in the summer. Since these are all newly planted, be sure to mulch generously this fall. Enjoy your new shrubs!

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