How to Trim Rhamnus Frangula Asplenifolia (Fernleaf Buckthorn)

Written by meg butler
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Rhamnus frangula "asplenifolia," commonly known as the fernleaf or alder buckthorn, is a spreading shrub often planted as a landscape ornamental. The best feature of the fernleaf buckthorn is its thick, feathery foliage. While it may grow thick and lush of its own accord, the shrub benefits from both thinning and heading pruning to look its best. Thinning opens the bush to allow air and light to penetrate and prevent dieback and disease. Heading cuts are made to trim, shape and encourage the bush to thicken and produce its dense growth.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Pruning shears

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Instructions

    Thinning

  1. 1

    Remove spindly, dead or dying branches back to their point of origin. Dying branches produce no foliage or yellowing foliage.

  2. 2

    Prune the stems and branches that crowd the centre and block light from penetrating the interior. Focus on branches that cross and rub against others. Prune back to their points of origin. To prune mid-branch, make the pruning cut roughly a quarter inch above the nearest outward-facing bud or side branch. Avoid pruning above inward-facing buds or branches, as it will produce more inward growth.

  3. 3

    Discard or compost all of the cut foliage. Don't leave it on the ground near the plant to decay, because it will attract fungi and other pathogens that may attack living plant tissue nearby.

    Trimming and Heading

  1. 1

    Trim excessively long or straggly branches back to the within a quarter inch of the nearest branch or bud. To encourage bushy inward growth, make the pruning cut to the nearest inward-growing branch or bud. To encourage bushy outward growth, make the pruning cut to the nearest inward-growing branch or bud.

  2. 2

    Identify thin spots in the bush. To thicken them, prune the nearest branches back to a stem or bud facing the thin spot.

  3. 3

    Shape the bush. Encourage the bush to widen or fill out in a certain direction by pruning the nearest branches back to a stem or bud facing the thin spot.

  4. 4

    Discard or compost all of the cut foliage. Don't leave it on the ground near the plant to decay, because it will attract fungi and other pathogens that may attack living plant tissue nearby.

Tips and warnings

  • Make pruning cuts in spring just before the season's growth commences or at any point while the bush is actively growing.

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