How to Prune Berberis Thunbergii

Updated February 21, 2017

The Berberis thunbergii plant, more commonly called the burberry plant, is a flowering shrub that has brightly coloured leaves and small, red berries. It is an ornamental plant that adds a touch of colour to fall and winter landscaping. The Berberis thunbergii is a hardy plant that grows in a wide variety of climates and requires little care. Gardeners prune the Berberis thunbergii plant to encourage growth and shape the plant into the desired size.

Wait until the Berberis thunbergii plant has stopped flowering in either the late spring or early summer and prune it then. Do not wait until fall to prune the shrub, as you will remove the buds, and the plant will not flower the following year.

Put on a long sleeve shirt and gardening gloves before pruning the Berberis thunbergii plant. The stems of the plant are covered in thorns, much like a rose bush, and will prick the skin easily.

Examine the plant for any dead limbs which are identifiable by a lack of leaves. Prune these limbs at the base of the plant using the pruning shears so that water and nutrients will be redirected to healthy plant stems.

Locate all of the stems that have wilted, dying blooms on them. Trace the tip of the branch back until you are approximately 1/3 from the end of the branch and prune the limb off using pruning shears. Remove all remaining faded blossom stems in this same manner.

Look at the interior of the plant and locate areas of extremely dense growth. Identify the longest limbs and cut them off approximately 1 inch from the base of the plant. This will allow sunlight and air into the centre of the plant and encourage new growth. Do not cut off more than 1/3 of these tall, inner branches.


When using the pruning shears, make each cut at a 45 degree angle to the stem, not a flat 90 degree angle.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Long sleeves
  • Pruning shears
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About the Author

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.