KC Gardens

How hard can I trim back this huge barberry bush?

One barberry is much bigger than the other two.
One barberry is much bigger than the other two.

QUESTION:

As you can see in this picture, I have one barberry that has thrived much better than the other two. Is it possible to cut back hard the large barberry bush to make it more the size of the smaller bushes? - Marilyn

ANSWER:

It would appear that you have two different species or varieties of barberry. The two smaller ones appear to be the old Crimson Pygmy variety and the larger one looks like just the plain old “red.” Because of this fact I don’t think you can keep them looking the same. Barberry can be cut back hard and will recover although it will be slow. You cannot simply shear the plant to “size” as it will open up to just a stemmy appearance. You will need to either cut back all branches to about a foot and let it regrow and then start shaping like the others. Or you can hand prune each branch back to a lower branch or stem until you reach your desired size. Either way it will open up the plant and will not very pretty for a few weeks to month. It appears that you shear these plants so once the regrowth gets to a point you can shear like the others. Is that clear as mud? - Dennis

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