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Pruning-Burning-Bush-THUMB.jpg

Pruning Burning Bush

We have a burning bush in front of our house (east side) which has grown way too large. A couple of years ago, we pruned it in spring to shorten it, but the new growth for the rest of that year had very small, pale leaves and looked quite unsightly. Fortunately the next year it looked fine. Now it has grown as large or larger (height and width) and we need to do something. Any advice you could give us about the timing and methods for pruning a burning bush would be greatly appreciated.

As you discovered, burning bushes do not like severe pruning. For a long term low maintenance solution you may want to remove or move this plant to a larger space. Replace it with a smaller plant that will fit the space when matures. Select a plant that fits the landscape design and is suited to the growing conditions. Or keep pruning. Try to remove no more than 1/4 to 1/3 the total volume. Severe pruning stimulates lots of growth and you end up back where you began. Make cuts above a healthy bud facing outward, where branches meet or back to the main stem. Removing small amounts of growth each year will be less stressful on the plant and less work and frustration for you. Late winter or early spring before growth begins is a great time to prune this and other shrubs that do not put on a big floral display in spring.

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