Pruning a False Holly (Osmanthus)

Asked July 31, 2017, 9:46 AM EDT

We have three of these planted side-by-side and are just beautiful! But they are getting crowded and we would like to recreate a feeling of separation/shape and cut down a bit on the height. Can we safely do this without ruining the overall esthetic? (The Cannas and Tithonias in the background are temporary over-the-top - literally and figuratively - experiments)

Maryland shrub pruning osmanthus

1 Response

They are beautiful plants and the fragrance of the flowers, which grow on new wood made each season, is legendary.
Planted as they are right now, we wouldn't suggest trying to prune them into individual, separate-looking plants. They are great hedge material and it would be awkward and an unending chore to try to keep them apart.
That said, you can definitely neaten them up and shorten them a bit. The best time for pruning is November through February. You could take off about a third safely.
A mid-season shear in June if needed is also o.k.

The recommended shape for hedges is a narrow pyramid or
inverted V. For example, a hedge five feet high could be three
and a half to four feet wide at the base and about a foot wide
at the top. This is crucial for a healthy hedge, because when
a top is as wide as, or wider than, the base, the lower hedge
is too shaded and produces thin, weak growth. The top of a
formal hedge may be slightly rounded or pointed. This helps
the plant to shed snow, which could otherwise break branches.

cm