Pearlbush – Pruning

Q: I have a pearlbush that is many, many years old. It is almost 25 feet tall but it has lost several limbs over the years and is pretty scraggly now. Can I prune it drastically now without hurting it?

A: Pearlbush (Exchorda racemosa) is certainly not the most common tree/shrub around, but Dr. Michael Dirr says it grows quite well in the Athens-Atlanta area. It has four inch long flower strings that appear in early spring. Dirr also describes it as Abecoming floppy and unkempt with age. Though you’ll miss your flowers this spring, now is the best time to prune your plant severely. Depending on its present limb structure, you could take it down to three or four feet without much problem. Over the next few years it will regain a more compact form.

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