B. Rosie Lerner
Purdue Extension


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Shrubs To Behead

Many shrubs can benefit from occasional or even routine pruning to remove damaged stems, keep the plant in size, rejuvenate for greater flower production or to maintain a formal shape. But there are a few species that should routinely be cut to the ground, at least in our Midwestern climate.

Some shrubs will actually dieback to the ground most winters and then send up new twigs the following spring, effectively performing as if they were herbaceous perennials. With other species, the stems may not actually dieback completely, but their wood becomes weak and spindly if it does survive.

The following plants are best cut back all the way to the ground by late winter, before spring growth begins. Fortunately, these plants bloom on new season's growth so they will still provide summer flowers, despite having to start from scratch each year.

Common Name Botanical Name
Glossy Abelia Abelia x grandiflora
Butterfly Bush Buddleia sp.
Beautyberry Callicarpa sp.
Bluebeard Caryopteris x clandonensis
Smooth Hydrangea Hydrangea arborescens (such as 'Annabelle' and ' Grandiflora ')
Bigleaf Hydrangea Hydrangea macrophylla (those cultivars that bloom on new wood, such as 'Endless Summer' and 'All Summer Beauty'
Bushclover Lespedeza sp.
Russian sage Perovskia atriplicifolia


Writer: B. Rosie Lerner
Editor: Olivia Maddox