Barberry Pruning - Knowledgebase Question

Naperville, IL
Avatar for dearshelly
Question by dearshelly
June 20, 2000
I bought a 12 yr old house and it has 5 barberry bushes in the front(I do not know the age of the bushes).These bushes have red leaves on the outer part but the inside of the bush is totally dried up as a result I cannot trim them and they are pretty untidy.Will it be OK if I cut them back to the ground and let them regrow and if yes when should that be done.Thank you for your help.

Answer from NGA
June 20, 2000
Based on your description it is difficult to tell if they are bare on the interior simply due to lack of light or to some other reason. If the alternative is to remove them, then it is worth a try to cut them back very hard. The best time to do this would be very early spring. If you need to try it now, make sure they receive ample water so that the soil stays moist but not soggy until they recover from the "haircut". (Doing it now increases the chances that you will kill them outright.) They should regrow quickly because of their large established root systems.

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