Print Friendly


  1. Bonnie Brocklehurst says

    Hi Make

    Thanks for the instructions for cutting back shubs. I thought that Burning Bush was so pretty, it would never occur to me to cut it back like that, however I know it is probably really good for the plant.

    Thanks again…


    • PJ Sweethome says

      I think the cut back shrub is pretty ugly, but Mike’s right. If that’s what needs to be done to keep it in bounds.. However….I prefer to do it late winter or early spring, just before leaf break. The less time I have to look at all those stumps, the better.

      • says

        Deborah, yes, during the dormancy period you can cut most shrubs back pretty hard. Evergreens are going to be slow to fill back in, but in most cases they do.

      • says

        Norm, as close as I can tell the invasive plant is the standard burning bush, Euonymus Alatus, not the more common dwarf Burning Bush, Euonymus Alatus compacta. I know there is a lot of buzz about this online, but around here they seldom seed themselves. Certainly now where near at the rate that maple trees and other plants do.

  2. Anonymous says

    Can i do the same cutting with my supposed to be dwarf Korean Lilac that has grown enormously in my front lawn? When is the best time to cut it and do I need to use a chain saw?

  3. Bonnie Solie says

    Does this apply to the Smoke Bush? I have to wacked on it during the summer so it doesn’t grow out on the drive way. It seems to just keep going. Should I give it a good prune this winter?

  4. Anonymous says

    Can English Boxwod be cut back the same way?
    The boxwood have been in front of my house for 35 years and never been trimmed. The original plants came from Woodrow Wilson’s home in Staunton, Va and i don’t want to damage mine! (My mom took a tour there when they were trimming the boxwood and picked up a few snippets!)

  5. Pat Tucker says

    I have a burning bush that doesn’t seem to grow but, it seems healthy and green.
    Is there anything special I can do for this plant? It’s been planted in this same spot
    for about 4 yrs. It gets full sun. Should I move it? It’s about 3ft tall.
    Whedn I watched your video on pruning burning bushes on new something was wrong
    with mine. Excellent video!!!

    • Amsale says

      Hi Pat,

      May be you need to transfer it in a bigger pot. In any case plants planted in pots stay do not grow as much as those planted in the ground.

  6. Peggy says

    Loved this video Just planted burning bushes last month and they are really growing. Do I need to do anything with the bush this year?

    • Alblueheron says

      I don’t know if the snowball bush will work with this. I had one in NY that I tried trimming and it just went rank. Last week I had to remove a huge (>90 foot tall, five trunks) white pine and the arborist cut my snowball bush to the ground. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

  7. KAY says

    I’d suggest waiting to prune the burning bush until late winter, that way you don’t have to look at the ugly stumps for six months.

  8. Jill Murley says

    I really enjoy your messages and look forward to them. I read them all and just waiting time until I can take advantage of plant sales. I am into herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes and wish I knew more. Maybe you can inspire me more.

  9. Bernice Hinkle says

    Thanks Mike..very interesting, you sure have taken away much of my fear of plant whacking through the videos.

    Do you have any tips on keeping arborvitae ,etc under control? We live in a Mobile Home court and ours are too tall now.

    bernice Hinkle

  10. Roy says

    I was wondering about rose bushes. I live in Idaho, the Boise area. How far back can I cut a rose bush and when should I do it?

  11. Doni Whitley says

    Thank you Mike!
    I’ve been amazed with the results I’ve had by following your advise on pruning my plants. Tou have truely given me the answers for so many questions concerning my gardening, but my shears and I have been set free. The growth and control your advice has afforded has been
    Thank you for this great site! Keep’em coming.

  12. Linda says

    I thoroughly enjoy your videos. Can I do the same “heavy pruning” with a privet hedge that has grown 12-15 feet high? It has many thick “trunks.” I bought a chain saw and took out 1/3 of the thickest trunks on 3 bushes this past spring, but was afraid to go further. I have 10 privets in a hedge. When I pruned in years past, I apparently pruned at the wrong time. The result was many “witches brooms” with multiple branches coming out from the trunks I cut. The branches on the witches brooms had 5-7 branches that all got tall, lanky, and actually twisted. Can you give me guidance on when and how to trim the privets? I’d like to keep them about 8 feet tall to serve as a screen between my yard and my neighbor’s yard. Thanks so much and keep those videos coming.

    • says

      Linda, the privet can be pruned pretty hard when they are dormant. Then come spring as they start to put on a lot of new growth just keep that trimmed to the desired height and they should be fine. When you prune most plants hard they come back with a few unruly branches. The quicker you stop those from growing out of control the better.

    • says

      Kelli, Blue Spruce and most other conifers are a bit of a different animal. If you prune them hard like I did you will remove the main leader and end up with a very large blue spruce shrub, probably not what you want. They can be kept smaller through regular pruning each year, but if they get too large its really not practical to try and trim them back a lot.

  13. alyson says

    My husband severely cut an old fashion rose last month (August) so he could paint. Boy did he get it from me. But it has forgiven him and is coming back beautifully. So he is forgiven.

  14. Chris says


    Thanks for yet another great, free, tip. I almost always tune into your tips. From one landscaper to another – thanks a lot. -Chris

  15. Darlene says

    This reminds me of when my mother asked me about trimming her boxwoods. I told her to wait until late fall and take it easy. She cut them back HARD in the middle of the summer. Result-they ended up looking like a fresh, new planting of boxwoods! A lot easier than starting all over.

  16. Daid Jensen says

    Amen, I trim at the end of March as the snow melts here in Michigan. Each year I trimmed back almost all the new growth from the previous year. The burning bushes gradually got taller and taller. Finally I decided that even if it killed them I had to get control of them; so, about five years ago I wacked them off at about knee high. It didn’t bother them one bit. This summer near the end of July I decided that a little light trimming would make them much neater in appearance. It didn’t seem to have any negative effects although I do worry about disease when I leave an open wound that time of year.

  17. Ipf says

    I loved this video! It is the best way for us novices to learn! Yaay!! I actually learned something!! But I gotta tell you, I trimmed 3 little burning bushes I planted right on the front of my house & plan on trimming them as they show growth next yr cause I don’t want them to grow bigger than 3-4 foot. Am I making a mistake planning this?

    • says

      Ipf, let them completely flush out with new growth before you prune next spring. If you prune them too early they’ll just grow right back. I had a couple of Burning Bush at my other house that I kept at 40″ tall for 16 years. As soon as I moved out every plant in the landscape grew completely out of control because of a lack of hard pruning.

    • says

      Cheryl, quick story about sprirea. I had three in my landscape that just grew way too much for the area that they were in and I really no longer wanted them. So I went out with my chainsaw and cut them along with some evergreens that I didn’t want right to the ground. I mean as close to the ground as I could get them. I did this right before Kevin left for college and asked him to dig out the stumps for me. He dug out all of the evergreen stumps but didn’t see the sprirea stumps. That’s how low I cut them! So anyway I didn’t even realize that he didn’t dig them out until one day I walked around the house and noticed three of the most compact spirea that I’ve ever seen. I cut them clear to the ground and forgot about them and they grew back really nice and tight a full.

      So yes, sprirea respond really well to heavy pruning. Do them when they are dormant.

  18. Albert McBee says

    Excellent! I have been thinking about cutting an overgrown forsythia back a little to control it’s ranging habit. This video has given me the release to chop it about halfway up…

    Thanks, Mike!

  19. Jamie Parrish says

    Thank you Mike,

    Very informative. I have a very unruly variagated privot that I am going to try this on in November.

    Really enjoy your newsletters

    Jamie Parrish
    Blanchard, OK

  20. Barbara says

    Good information.This is really good to know that you can cut the burning bush back and reshape it without doing permanent damage to it. Thanks Mike.

  21. Carle, Bridgman, MI says

    Good to know. I love the burning bushes and they’ve gotten monsterous over the years. Wasn’t quite sure how much I could cut them back, and now I know.

    Thanks Mike.

    May you and yours be well,


  22. karen says

    That’s pretty severe pruning! I’d like to know if there’s a danger of just leaving a burning bush alone – mine is spectacular – easily 10 feet in diameter. I have a huge yard, so I welcome very large accents. It is very beautiful when it turns color in fall, and is perfectly filled out all the way around. I worry though, that it’s going to do what a butterfly bush I had did… it grew so large that it cracked down the middle of the root ball and after severe pruning would not come back in the least. Perhaps water got down into the base and it rotted. I don’t really know. Any ideas of what the outer limits are?

    • says

      Karen, I don’t think there is a downside to letting burning bush grow large. Should they ever get broken down by snow load or something else I’m sure some pruning would make them nice again.

  23. Ginger says

    Wow, this is a good video! My neighbors burning bushes are wicked tall. I bet they would love to know you can cut them way back. Thanks!

  24. martin says

    Thanks for the vid – great info! What do you do with the waste material, compost or burn it? There must quite a lot let after that hedge was cut?

    • says

      Martin, of course composting the smaller branches would be a great idea. The larger branches would take much longer, but at my new nursery I am clearing some space to plant in, and anything less than 1-1/2″ in diamter goes onto a brush pile that will eventually compost and the larger wood goes into a firewood pile. It will take a long time for that brush pile to compost, but all I have is time and in the meantime I use it as a barrier to discourage snowmobiles and 4 wheelers.

    • Kathy says

      All of Mike’s gardening videos are found on his blog at
      Scroll down the page just a little bit to see the title of the Burning Bush pruning video with the
      title “Trim Your Burning Bush WAY BACK!!”. Click on the title to see the video.

      Kathy Anderson
      Mike’s Assistant

  25. Anita Lueck..I really enjoy your 'lessons' and I do try to follow. I can't wait to trim my Burning Bush. I have it on a corner and looking like it could use a 'shave'. Thanks for sharing. says

    oops typed in the wrong space. However, it is worth thanking you again for your ‘tutorials’. I look forward to seeing how to garden properly. You always seem to talk about something I am needing help with.

  26. Tina says

    I love your videos, thank you for sharing with us. I always learn something new. Thank you again for all your efforts.

    Tina Boldt

  27. Shawn M. says

    Great information, I didn’t think I could cut them that hard. Now I can tackle that row along my drive.
    Thank you!

  28. SUSAN says

    Thank you for the info. Also, I was wondering how much you can prune a circular cedar bush? It appears to have only bare branches in the middle of the bush. Will it come back if
    I were to cut it way back? It is by the garage door and is beginning to hang over into the entrance.

    • says

      Susan, if you cut an evergreen way back into that dead wood in the center of the plant it will take a long time to come back. But actually that wood in the middle of the plant isn’t dead, its just starved for sunlight. But if you cut this plant back that hard it will be very slow to come back. If it were mine I’d replace it. But if you’re going to do that you have little to lose by cutting it back first. But it will be at least a year before it looks any better at all.

    • says

      Jeannie, I’m not sure what kind of actual gardening you’re interested in. is loaded with all kinds of free gardening information as is my newsletter and videos. But I am a little taken back by your question. I’ve been giving away free gardening information online for over 10 years now, I’ve invested at least 10,000 hours of my own time sitting at this computer sharing my knowledge with strangers all over the world and I get the impression you think I’m stingy. Hmmmm. You don’t have to buy my books, as a matter of fact you can even unsubscribe from my newsletter if you like.

  29. Brenda & David says

    Love your videos Mike! They are very helpful. Keep ‘em coming! Can we have some Oleander pruning tips? (Tomball, TX)

  30. Lola Bradley says

    Can you transplant new growth near the bottom of an old Crepe Myrtle tree? The roots are not extended very far from the tree.

  31. Cathy says

    We transplanted a rhododendrom and it looks pretty sad. Thanks for your suggestion re pruning after a hard freeze. We’ll cut it ‘way back and hopefully it will come back again.

    • says

      Cathy, make sure that Rhododendron is not planted too deep and that it is not planted in heavy clay soil or over watered. They need water, but not near as much as other plants and they can not tolerate wet roots. It will kill them. They like to be planted high and dry.

      • George says

        Mike; I have a rotadendium (spelling) that is 8′ tall and spreads about 6′ in diameter. I want to cut it down to about 4′ x 3′. Is this possible and when?

        • says


          It is possible and the best time to do it as soon as the plants freeze for the winter. There is some risk involved, just like surgery on me or you. But if were me I’d take that chance and cut it down.

  32. B's Garden (becky) says

    Hi Mike; Excellent garden tip on heavy pruning! With pruning, sometimes its best to just “Have NO Fear”!

    • says

      Becky, you’re right. You have to make that decision that the plant offers nothing to your landscape in its present condition, and if heavy pruning works (and it usually does) you are saving a plant that otherwise would be tossed away.

  33. Rush46 says

    Thanks for the confirmation. Recently, I pruned two loropetalum bushes at the front of our home about 50% down. I have several others around the yard so I waited to see what the response would be. I did this in early August, the hottest time of the year here in Florida. About three weeks later there was new growth coming from the woody part of the plants. So I went ahead and pruned another 10 plants in a similar fashion. Six more to go and I will be done. It just took a little courage to get started. Thanks again.

    • says


      You’re living proof that it works, but it always best to do this kind of pruning when the plants are dormant, or as close to dormant as they get.

  34. KimmieJo says

    I did not need to trim my burning bush as the deer came in and did it for me!! The bear came in last night and really pruned my plum tree too! (ARRRGH!) SOO I will be busy picking what is left of the plums to day. We live in beautiful country but the wild animals take over as well on my plants and trees.

    • says


      Just look right here. I do my best to get here and answer questions, but I just can not get to them all. I spend a great deal of time each day on the Backyard Growers Message Board answering questions for the members of my Backyard Growers Group. I try and answer as many questions as possible here, but there are only so many hours. But often times other knowledgeable people offer good answers here as well.

    • says


      Here in the north we cut Butterfly bushes right back to the ground each year because they are not all that hardy here and the tops typically don’t survive the winter.

      • Sharon says

        Do you mean that you prune your butterfly bushes back in the fall? A tip I got from a professional grower of BB (zone 6) is to cut them back to about a foot or two off the ground in mid-April. It is important not to do it sooner because if you get a freeze soon after new growth has started, it could kill the whole plant (only after pruning – not on a plant that hasn’t been cut back hard).

        I had a customer a few years ago that I pruned a 5-7 year old (well established & healthy) BB for in March, and that year we did get a freeze afterwards. Sure enough, the entire plant died. I am much more careful with the timing of pruning them now.

        What I’m not sure of is if there’s a difference between pruning in the fall and pruning too early in the spring. You may say that you’ve never lost a BB from pruning in the fall, but have you ever had one with new spring growth endure a hard freeze? I think that is the only situation where the entire plant will die.

        Just to clarify – I am referring to a “BB” = BUTTERFLY Bush, not a burning bush which this article is about.

  35. Tootsie says

    enjoyed the ‘pruning’ video and it just makes me want to take my trusty pruning shears to several bushes in my yard…but will ‘azalea’ bushes withstand this type of pruning? i have several azaleas that are beautiful but getting ‘woody’, 2 overgrown rhododendrons , and several ‘spiriella’ bushes
    and they all need a good cut. my burning bushes are still young but i gave them a ‘low trim’ just to freshen them up. the weather here in western n.c. is like a rain forest in warm weather and as a lot of the country, very unpredictable, so i don’t want to prune too early.keep the tips coming.

    • says

      Tootsie, the spirea will respond nicely to hard pruning. Azaleas and Rhododendrons can be cut back, but the textbook method is to only remove 1/3 of the plant per year over a 3 year period. So what would happen if you cut them back really hard like I did in the video? If you did it while they are dormant (winter) they’d probably be fine, but I have to remind you that there is some risk involved of losing the plant.

  36. Anonymous says

    good video I enjoy all your garden tips. I cut a sand cherry way back last week. too early I guess, now that I saw the video. hope it comes back. I want to plant garlic. think it should be planted in october? do I plant the garlic I buy in the grocery store? (the same garlic I cook with) or is there different garlic to plant? thanks, Tia

  37. Betty Jo Bishop says

    I have a beautiful burning bush. But this year on one side it looks bare as if fall was here. What would cause that. Thanks for the tip.

    • says

      Betty Jo, it could be spider mites. They really don’t do permanent damge, they just defoliate the plants earlier than normal. I want to do a video about them, let me see if I can get it done.

  38. Kay says

    Planted Calla lillies this spring, and they were beautiful but. on next round of growth they stood tall with large “bulbs” and just fell over. the huge blooms never opened. Should I leave them , or cut them off later in fall? Ga. has been @100 degrees, I worked my bed & mulched, What to do? enjoy all your tips & videos. Thanks so much.

  39. Shirley says

    Can I cut some of the roots off that are coming up from the ground from a maple tree that is about 7 years old. I also have an OLD oak tree that some of the roots are about 3 in above ground, Can I cover the oak roots up with dirt or chop them back.

      • Shirley says

        How much can I cut off? Can you do a video showing how much to cover the roots of the old tree and how to cut the roots off the maple tree.

    • says

      Linda, ornamental grasses can be cut to the ground in the late fall. After a good hard freeze is the ideal time. Some people burn them to the ground, but that’s really not necessary, and you certainly don’t want to burn the whole plant you could start a major fire. Just cut them within a few inches of the ground. I pruning saw works the best, or a pruning blade in reciprocating saw.

      • Sharon says

        Fall works for pruning back ornamental grasses, but consider this:
        The flowering stalks of many ornamental grasses dry beautifully – cut or uncut – and will stay like that for months (or sometimes years when cut for dried arrangements). Especially if your ornamental grasses were planted as a screening, but even if not, leave them be until early spring. Most will stay attractive throughout the winter. Just be sure to prune away the dead by the time the new growth starts.

  40. Ron says

    Thanks, Mike. What about crepe myrtle? First of all, my next door neighbor’s looks great. Still blooming like crazy. Mine isn’t. It has what looks like seed pods at the end of every branch. And what about pruning? I want it to look like a tree, but it keeps growing new branches right out of the ground, looking like a bush. I live in St. Louis, and I know they are different in every growing area. Thanks in advance. Ron.

    • Kathy says

      There are many different varieties of crape myrtles. Some have more of an upright shrub form, others have more of a tree form. Some have longer blooming seasons than others, while others begin blooming much earlier than other varieties. Your neighbor’s crape must be a variety that has a longer blooming season. Once your crape has finished blooming for the season, you can clip off the spent blossoms and seed pods.

      Kathy Anderson
      Mike’s Assistant

  41. Maria says


    I live in AZ where it is super hot, so I am afraid to plant anything other than those that do well in the heat (lantana). In these past few years I did try others that have done pretty good, especially in my patio. For privacy, this past spring I planted a couple of privet bushes by our pool, and they really seemed stressed during the hottest part of the summer, but they look like they have made it through quite healthy. They were only about 3 1/2 ft when I planted them, and are now about 6 ft tall, but still need them to grow a bit more to obtain that privacy we like, so now I hear that we are supposed to cut them way down during the winter. Is that correct?

    Just one more question-please: I live Hibiscus, but every single one I have planted has died. One lasted about a year, and then it just turned yellow until it dried up. My dream is to grow several in my yard. We have North/south exposure. Any help would be much appreciated.

  42. Elizabeth in NC says

    Makes me wish I had a burning bush to prune. I’ll look around to see what I can do.
    Thanks Mike – that was fun.

  43. To Pat from Kay says

    Thanks so much for the link to calla lillies. I’ll keep trying! I have some in partial shade &some in full sun and some on a sloped bank. Thanks so much! And thank you Mike. Kay

  44. Jennifer in Mi says

    On the burning bush cutting is there a way to propagate them to make more so I can make a row between me and my neighbor.

  45. sharon says

    I have burning bush’s that don’t seem to want to grow. I have had them for about six years and they seem not to grow. They are still as small as when I first bought them. I have had dear eating on them from time to time. Also they don’t seem to turn red as they should. Can you give me some hints.
    Thank You

  46. Debbie G says

    I have a question …Will peaches ripen off the tree? I have a 3 yr. old peach tree that was suposed to be a flowering almond bush!!! This year the peaches are looking real good but are still hard. I live in Idaho and we will be geting a frost in a few weeks so I’m wondering if I can pick them soon ? What else should I do?? Help Thanks

  47. Sam says

    The average height of a blue spruce is for example 40′. Can I keep it tall at the maximum of 10′ by pruning it every year, assuming when I plant it it is only 6′ tall?

    I appreciate your advice.

    • says

      Sam, you really can. You just have to be diligent about cutting off all of the new growth. But you might be happier with another conifer that doesn’t get that tall.

  48. Lura says

    MIke, I recently removed a monster yucca tree community and subsequently was left with roots that wouldn’t come out without a struggle, and now the dang things are trying to grow back! How do I get these roots out once and for all?

  49. SueB says

    Mike what can I do to ensure no roaches come in when I bring my potted trees back in for the winter? I’ve seen some big ones scatter from my grill and fear I may bring some inside. I live in Raleighy, NC and we had a hot dry summer and early fall. Suggestions?

  50. Ruth hill says

    Hello Mike I am like you i am not afraid to cut it away back. my neighbors say you are going to kill that tree or bush i say if it dies i know where i can buy another .& it turns out beautiful and i get yard of the week several times thank you ,is it time to cut back hollies or move them to a new location.

  51. ryan says

    mike, i’ve had some good luck with rooting hardwood birch cuttings. i must have 100 of those sons-of-birches rooting around here! haha

  52. Terri says

    I have a question regarding trimming bushes back. We have large cedar hedge/bushes all around the front of our home. They were never trimmed regularly before we moved in, but desperately need it. Is there a way to trim them back hard, and not be left with dead sticks showing everywhere? Our last trimming left dead areas that did not come back.

    • says

      Teri, with evergreens hard pruning is a gamble. What you can do is reach inside the plant and cut away 1/3 of what needs trimmed. Then a year later do it again, then again the third year. On paper this is supposed to work, but it’s a 3 year process and if the plant still doesn’t get sun to the inside after the first or second pruning your still going to have a lot of dead sticks.

      I know you say Cedar but a lot of people have arborvitae and they call them Cedar. In my book, if they are unsightly you have to decide whether or not you want to keep looking at them, take a chance on trimming them really hard (winter is the time to do that) and if they don’t come back nicely rip them out and start over.

  53. bess says

    your the best info on line Thanks for so much good learning material I am old but not to old to learn thanks thANKS

  54. Clare says

    I have 4 really big, ugly Japanese Holly Bushes that I wanted to get rid of but after seeing your video, maybe I should control them better. I had been clipping them throughout the summer with my hedge clipper and they grew back REALLY fast. Should I take our chain saw to in the fall? Thanks Mike. I love your newsletters and you videos.

  55. Ray says

    This type of training is typical of Mike. The amount of information he gives away is phenomenal.
    I do have a question though. Two or three years ago, I purchased the entire package. Since then, life has happened and I have lost all of my log in information, receits, etc. Is there a way to reconnect with this, or will I have to repurchase? Your help would be appreciated

  56. Willow says

    I had a couple arborvitae that when I planted them I thought they would be great for decorating with lights at xmas time…so I planted them in the front bed on each end of the house. I knew they were fast growing but did not realize HOW fast. One day i looked and realized they were taller than my house by a good bit. Everyone said, can’t trim that much. Well…It was trim or cut down. I chanced it and trimmed last fall along with my severely overgrown lilacs and red twig dogwoods. Now I was not able to get the same shape and not have it look horrible, but I was able to round out the top and have it look acceptable. Is there a way to get the pyramidal shape back without having it be an eyesore? BTW The lilacs my husband was not sure about making it look lovely this year- though not as much flowers as we got in previous years, I am sure next year will be fine. The Red Twig dogwood was cut back to half its size and looks great this spring.

  57. Stewart says

    I moved into a house 3 years ago with a 10′ tall Lilac Bush. I haven’t done much pruning of it and there were not too many blooms this year. (a) What is the best thing to do with the spent blooms too promote more growth next year? (b) Should I cut back 1/3 of it after Thanksgiving? Or will I lose next year’s buds?

  58. Patti says

    I planted a road frontage with two burning bushes then one purple smoke bush, Two burning bushes the one purple smoke bush, two burning bushes and the one purple smoke bush.. and I did this on each side of my drive way.. My purple smoke bushes grew 4 foot in one year.. my burning bushes grew maybe 1 foot in one year so the burning bushes are growing very slow compared to my purple smoke bushes.. Any opinions from landscappers on how this will look once I have a hedgerow growing?

  59. Janet says

    I am wondering if I can cut a pussywillow back as much as you did the burning bush. It is higher than our front porch right now and it is actually too close to the porch. It really needs to be replanted somewhere else, but I am afraid it is too large to remove and then replant. So maybe if I can just trim it way back.

    • Sharon says

      Yes, you can trim a pussy willow way back. I know – they grow like weeds! They are not very suited for landscaping right in front or around the house. Just remember that pussy willows start to form next year’s buds right after they flower, so if you prune in the fall, you won’t get very many of the little furry buds. The best time to prune for having buds is right after they bloom, but unfortunately, this is BEFORE the growth spurt, so it doesn’t always help. Good luck.

  60. Wilda says


    Loved the video. What’s the best way to prune Indian Hawthorne? And what time of year should I prune it?

    Thanks much

  61. Sharon says

    Mike, I do appreciate your videos, and have benefited from many of your tips – thank you. I hope you don’t think I’m contradicting your advice or disagreeing with you – we both know that our own way isn’t always the best way, and also that often there is more than one “right” way to do things.

    I am amazed at how many unrelated questions you get from people who are too lazy to do the research on their plant and just post a comment on one of your (FREE!!) articles, expecting you to give them MORE for free by taking your valuable time to answer it for them. I don’t blame you for not answering everyone – you can’t (plus, the more you do, the more questions you get) – and at the same time I am impressed with how giving you are in the quantity of unrelated questions you DO take the time (GIVE your time?) to answer. Kudos to you – you’re a very selfless and generous person – and a wealth of information. Thank you.

    • says

      Sharon, I appreciate your comments. You’re right, it is upsetting when people get mad at me because I can’t give them more of my time. If only they had any idea how many thousands, or tens of thousands of hours I’ve invested in giving out free gardening advice. I can’t even begin to tell you. But it helps that you understand.

  62. Kind Cowgirl says

    Mike, Thank you sincerely for all of your awesome and helpful tips.. Your time spent on helping others should be appreciated by all who visits your website… I sure appreciate you! Thank you kindly!!

  63. Margaret says

    Thank you! I moved into a house with beautiful burning bushes that hang out into the street and block vision for driveways. Now I know I can keep the plant and be safe.

  64. julie says

    This is awesome advice! Thanks again Mike for all of your great landscaping posts!
    YOU ROCK!! Going out to hard prune, the rain is clearing as we speak… ;-)

    • says

      Cathy, Mockorange is a woody shrub a lot like forsythia. During the winter you can cut them back really hard like I did here with the Sandcherry. See that post on this site about trimming Purple Sandcherry.

  65. T. Mo says

    Can I cut back my burning bush right at the beginning of spring….say today, perhaps? (April 3rd)…. They haven’t bloomed yet and wasn’t sure if they were still considered dormant. I’m guessing they’ll start to bloom very soon and I didn’t want to compromise the life of the bush.

    Thanks Mike! Great videos!!

    • says

      T. Mo,

      Sure you can cut them back now. You won’t hurt them. Depending on how hard you cut them back it will take them a time to fill back in completely, but they most certainly will fill back in.

  66. Rachael says

    I have inherited a burning bush (euonymus) that is about 15+ ft tall and I was told to cut it 8 inches from the ground. I’m scared ! What height and when should I do this? I’m in upstate NY.

    • says


      8″ is pretty harsh, I’d suggest 24″ and don’t do it until winter. However, I cannot guarantee your results, all I can tell you is that I have trimmed them that hard myself.

  67. Anonymous says

    i have several burning bush in my front yard two of them leafed out this spring with very few leaves what should I do to get them to grow back better next year?

    • says

      Burning bush are pretty hardy and if they don’t leaf out, something must be going on with them. The first thing I would suspect is possibly rabbit damage. Check to see if the stems have been chewed on. If so, not much you can do but wait and see what they do. If they are not completely dead, chances are they will come back. If you happen to be in a warm climate, Burning Bush really don’t like those hot zones.

  68. Anonymous says

    I have trouble knowing how or when to prune Hydrangea; it is too big so when I trim it way back then it doesn’t bloom much in spring or throughout the summer.It’s right next to walk way into house, so perhaps I should move it completely, but it’s very tight in ground & rooted down deep.

  69. says

    I absolutely love your blog and find most of your post’s to be what precisely I’m looking for.
    Does one offer guest writers to write content to
    suit your needs? I wouldn’t mind producing a post or elaborating on a lot of the subjects
    you write concerning here. Again, awesome blog!

    • says


      On occasion we do accept articles written by others but they very much have to be inline with what our goals are for the site. And we seldom post anything anymore that we don’t have our own unique images to use along with the post. So it does make it a bit challenging.

  70. says

    Like you said, if I could convince my neighbors and people I do landscaping for and work with it would be a lot easier on me ! It’s hard to get people to understand the importance of dead heading and trimming. Most think if you cut ANY off you will kill their plants. So I like to give them copies where you are blunt enough that they’ll take it to heart!
    Thanks Mike for all you do for us!

  71. Olin says

    It may seem extreme to some people, but its good for the plants health to trim back every few years to keep out the diseases and help with the looks of the plant. Just like fruit trees and Roses. sometimes it may look bad a couple seasons, but, in the long run the produce and are healthier and live longer for our enjoyment.

  72. Louis Bermudes says

    Hello Mike,
    I have to tell you that I look forward to your news letters & videos. I just know I’ll be learning something.
    You have a wonderful gift.

    Thanks, Louis

  73. Bob H. says

    I have some way overgrown burning bushes and saw your video on cutting them back. It’s the second week in April and warming up here in Carol Stream, west of chicago. Is it too late already to cut them back like in your video? They are about 8 – 10 feet high. A drastic pruning down to a few feet would leave only wood. Like your site. Bob H.

    • says


      With heavy pruning there is always risk. Earlier would have been better, but chances are if you cut them now they’ll be fine.

      • Brice says

        I have some privet hedges that were pruned a few weeks ago. And I also have a burning bush plant that was pruned in late fall last year. Neither has began to bud yet. What is the time frame for these shrubs to bloom this spring? Thanks.

        • says


          That depends on where you are, but if they were cut back they will be slow to put on new growth, might have to set new buds. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.

  74. Julie says

    I’m so happy I found this video! I pruned back a huge burning Bush today…thought my husband was going to have a heart attack when he saw it! It was blocking the gate to the back yard and I almost poked my eye out on the darn thing.

  75. Patty says

    Mike, I have a burning bush that bloom with the pretty pink flowers and red leaves this spring. And then all of a sudden 1/2 of the bush just died. The other side is just fine. What happened to it? I have lived here for years and have never seen this.. Should I cut the whole bush back? This is the middle of June. Patty

    • says


      Pretty sure you don’t have Burning Bush, sounds like Purple Sandcherry. I’d remove the dead and trim up as needed and hope for the best. Could be a peach tree borer problem.

  76. patti says

    this was a great video. i am wondering, though, about a less severe method for my BB hedge. it’s been in for almost 10 years, and is starting to get leggy. it’s about 8′ tall…never pruned, just slight trimmings on the edges.

    i hesitate to cut it back so severely…the reason we planted it when we moved in was to shield our neighbors messy yard. i’d hate to have to look at that while waiting for the bushes to grow taller and thicker again. is there a less drastic method that we could try? selective pruning to the ground on each plant? alternating bushes?


    • says


      Wait until November and just cut the top as much as you want. Maybe cut it back to 5′ and let if fill out from there.

  77. Kim says

    Great video! I have a question, I live in central Indiana and this years winter was worse than normal I was told. Several of my burning bushes are in bad shape. Half of their branches are dead (dry and no leaves) and others seem fine. I saw rabbits eating bark from the bottom(not sure if this makes a difference) I was told to trim the dead branches, I did this bush the bushes look really lopsided. If I am wanting to try and save these bushes is it better to trim them way down like you did in the video?

    • says


      At this point I’d wait until Thanksgiving then trim then down far enough to get them balanced again. They will grow back faster than you think. The rabbits chewing on the stems of the plants can be a problem. It’s not a real big deal until they girdle the plant all the way around. At that point the entire shrub is likely to die.

  78. Carol says

    I wish you had left the actual trimming in the video. I would have liked seeing how you attack the bush, where you start trimming, if you do it in big bits or just a bit at a time, etc. Love your videos, but don’t edit so much. I like seeing Mie in action, so I can learn more. :)

  79. Clay says

    What are the best tools to use? I’d like to use a battery powered recip saw as many of the branches are too big for lopper and too many over several plants for heavy pruning this spring

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.