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When Pruning Pays Off

Kolwitzia in full bloom

When we moved to this house nearly three decades ago, one of the first shrubs I planted was a Kolwitzia amabilis.  This delightful shrub is from Western China - its common name is Beauty Bush.  It belongs to the honeysuckle family and was named after Richard Kolwitz, a botanist in Berlin around 1900; amabilis means lovely.  It grows to about 10 feet in height with arching branches which are covered in pale pink flowers in June.

Kolwitzia - August 2011

  Mine had outgrown its space and become very woody and definitely needed a haircut.  So last August after it had finished flowering I decided to give it a good prune to try and rejuvenate it.

Kolwitzia - May 2012

I cut it down to about 5 feet and removed all the old wood - and prayed that it would come back good
as you can see from the above photo - it now looks vigorous and fresh.
I am not sure if it will flower this year - I think possibly not
but next year it should look a treat.


  1. I did the same thing with an overgrown Lilac bush last year. It's bushing out now, so I'm hoping for flowers next year too.

  2. Reply - Crystal I'm what you might call a nervous pruner - I either take off too much or too little - I'll get it right one day.

  3. Good pruning is much like a good hair cut. Sometimes it takes real bravery take the plunge and the results are usually good. Crystal gives me courage to cut back our aging lilacs. Any suggestions on how low to cut?

  4. Wow. Three decades!!! As someone who moves every few years (our longest stay-put is five years)I can't imagine getting to know a place that long. Wow.

  5. David - Nobody moves out round here - nearly everyone in the village has been here as long as us. Does it make me an old stick-in-themud?

  6. Sorry Ann - I have never pruned a lilac back hard - so I can't offer any words of wisdom.

  7. A lovely shrub, but sadly not one I've seen for a long time. Flighty xx

    Ann lilacs can pruned back hard and will grow back quite quickly. The RHS says 'prune thoughtfully after flowering'.

  8. Flighty - It puts on an amazing display - it's no wonder it is called the Beauty Bush

  9. How wonderful to have something for so long! Good job on the pruning.

  10. Diane - Pruning always frightens me to death - I always think I haven't done it right and the poor shrub will die - which of course isn't true.


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