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MagicalMystery's avatar

How do i prune a shrub that has not been pruned in about 8 years, and so is kind of spindly, not bushy?

Asked by MagicalMystery (900points) June 4th, 2010

I have a shrub – i forgot what it is, if it’s a rhododendron, philodendron, whatever, but it’s about 8 years old. I got it about 8 years ago, when it was a young thing. i never pruned it. Now it’s got a few branches that extended about 5 feet up, and of course it’s not full and bushy like it should be.

I want to prune it without killing it. Should i just cut some branches to the desired height? Is there anything i can do to make it grow fuller?

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7 Answers

Val123's avatar

Just cut it back to where you want it. Put the cuttings in water to root (might cut them in half too,) and replant them in the pot.

Merriment's avatar

To turn it back into a shrub when overgrowth has made a bit of a tree of it you have to cut it way back.

Depending on what kind of shrub it actually is there are better times than others to prune. Usually you want to prune it as it goes dormant and then when spring arrives it should put out many shoots from the base rather than just continuing it’s upward sprawl.

jazmina88's avatar

Indeed, pruning in the heat can stress the plant out more.

perspicacious's avatar

Wait until fall and cut it back to below where it becomes “spindly.”

Andreas's avatar

MagicalMystery you could also take a leaf to a local plant nursery and get them to identify it for you, and then ask their advice on pruning. What pruning rules apply in one area can be totally different in another area due to local factors being different in the two areas.

As Val123 correctly pointed out you can take cuttings from some plants quite easily. Just one tip: cut the bottom cut at about 45 degrees to minimise contact with the container. Also helps to identify “up” from “down” if the container spills! lol It happens. All the best.

GrumpyGram's avatar

Wait until fall and chop it down real low. It’ll probably look good next spring.

gailcalled's avatar

Pruning is not one-size-fits-all. First you have to ID your shrub. A rhododendron will have showy flowers (actually a tight bunch of many little flowers) in the spring ( mine just stopped blooming), so one prunes after the bloom and before the buds are set for next year. That would be now.

Here’s a clear how-to and when-to for a rhodie on YouTube

(A philodendron is a boring, leggy and ugly house plant with no noticeable flowers.)

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