How Far Back Can I Cut Aucuba Japonica

Filed Under: Shrubs · Keywords: How To, Prune, Cut, Back, Overgrown, Large, Aucuba, Japonica, Plant · 11000 Views
I have a HUGE Aucuba Japonica on my property...i'd say 20 - 30 yrs old. Very healthy and in my opinion (or tatse) overgrown and I want to cut it way back. Is this okay ? Should I take it to the ground or do a 1/3 this season and 1/3 later type deal ???

MO Asked by MO 5 years ago
Gardenality Seed · Zone 6B · -5° to 0° F

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Answer #1 · Maple Tree's Answer · Hi Mo-A good time to prune the Aucuba is March to late spring. The Aucuba japonica tolerates heavy pruning without any problems and recovers fairly quickly.

At this time I would prune the plant back 1/3 of its size. Prune the stems back to within an inch or so of a leaf bud. This way you won't end up with a plant with ugly leafless stems sticking out. The plant sounds as though it has grown quite large and may be looking somewhat woody at the base or just to large for its location. This can be improved by cutting out one-stem-in-three each year starting with the oldest stems, until the whole plant has been rejuvenated. This way new bottom growth will start to fill in the bottom portion of the plant at the same time you still have a nice size plant filling your landscape or garden. If you would like to prune out a few more larger stems than this to acquire the size plant you want within a few years you can do so. This plant will recover nicely. This is also a good time to prune out any damaged or dead stems within the plant. Be sure to use a sharp pair of hand pruners for the smaller stems and loppers for the older or larger stems. It is best never to use hedge trimmers as these cut and tear the beautiful leaves leaving a somewhat battered looking aucuba.

I noted below a link to an article you may be interested in regarding 'How To Prune Shrubs'. Just click on this link to go directly to this article in Gardenality.

Hope this helped - John)

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Answer #2 ·'s Answer · John gave a very good answer. Older, overgrown Aucuba can be pruned to any shape or size. Aucuba will take just about any amount of pruning and grow back. Like John said, I'd agree with doing heavy pruning in late winter or early spring. For now, you can remove a few taller stems that are bending over or are spoiling the shape of the plant. But, I think that cutting the entire plant back to a third of its height would be better done early next spring, before new growth begins to emerge. Make your pruning cuts at an angle so that water doesn't collect and stand in the top of the stem where it has been cut.)

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