Leggy Beautyberry

Asked May 7, 2019, 11:56 AM EDT

I have lots of volunteer beauty-berry that look leggy. There are now leaves sprouting but with dead ends and long "trunks". I've cut off the dead ends, but think I should just cut them off close to the ground so they grow back bushier. When should I cut them back severely and how close to the ground?

Charles County Maryland pruning plant care callicarpa shrub

3 Responses

The time to prune is in early spring while the plant is still dormant. Each year remove up to one in five of the stems completely cutting back to the base. Prune back any branches broken by the weight of the fruit as soon as seen either to a strong new shoot on the unbroken part of the stem or to a shoot at the base of the plant.
Callicarpas respond to hard pruning and need regular thinning to prevent congestion cutting older stems to the base.

Marian

Thanks, but I have a follow-up: Some of these volunteers have only one or two stems; just about none have 5 or more stems. (They are not at all bushy clusters that need thinning). Truthfully, I have nothing to lose if I cut them all back, but you think I should leave at least one elongated stem on each plant I cut back?

It would be a good idea to leave the foliage on the plant this year to promote better root growth for next season. Prune next spring.

Marian