When is the best time to prune a burning bush shrub?

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Burning bush (Euonymus alatus) is grown for its brilliant red fall foliage. Growing to heights of 9 to 12 feet, this bush may spread to an equivalent width. An ornamental shrub, hardy in U. S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 4 through 8, the burning bush prefers full sun or partial shade. Pruning your burning bush shrub in late winter or early spring each year keeps it looking good and improves its health. With simple routine pruning, burning bush is unlikely to require more severe pruning in the future.

Light Pruning:  Is needed  to maintain the overall shape of the burning bush may be done at nearly any time of year. Cutting the overgrown branches back to the contour of the bush during the summer keeps it in shape. Cuts made at a 45-degree angle allow water to run off easily.

Routine pruning to remove dead or diseased wood is completed in late winter or early spring before new growth appears. Removing dead wood close to the main branch or pruning dead plant parts back to a healthy bud allows healthy wood to grow and reduces the risk of disease. Routine pruning completed annually prevents the need for more serious pruning measures and improves the appearance of this bush.

Heavy pruning is required for overgrown or neglected burning bushes may need heavier pruning to rejuvenate the shrub. This is best performed in late winter or early spring before foliage forms by cutting one third of the new canes growing from around the base of the shrub to the ground level with a pruning saw or pruning shears. This opens the center of the shrub to let in light and improve air circulation, while controlling the size and density of the shrub.

And severe pruning may be necessary for neglected shrubs that have become overgrown or sickly. Cutting the entire burning bush to the ground level with a saw in early spring allows new growth plenty of time to grow. Pruning later in the season may not allow enough time for young shoots to mature and may pose a risk of damage to tender new growth during the winter months.


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