Manhattan Euonymus – Prune Selectively

How-To's, Landscape Care · Written by Roger

54 Comments

euon.manh_prune1Why Can’t I Just Shear It?

I call this one of my “go-to” plants.  Manhattan Euonymus is tough, nice looking, fast growing, and cheap (I mean relatively inexpensive).  Yes you could shear it – many people do, but the result will be excessive, dense branching on the sheared ends.  This produces that mass of stems and leaves on the exterior and nothing but bare stems on the inside.  Look, I get it.  If you have a huge hedge it’s not practical to hand-prune.  But I really feel I need to state the correct way to prune if you have the time and desire.

euon.manh_prune2Concentrate On The Older Stems

Look at the flush of growth on this euonymus in the pic above. If we don’t get this plant under control the view of the house will be obliterated.  To do this I start in one area and pick a point on the plant where even after aggressive pruning there will still be enough foliage to look presentable and “mask” the heavy cuts I’ll be making.  And that’s the key.  Notice in the picture here on the left that I’m ready to cut into 2nd, possibly 3rd year growth.  But before I make the cut I check to see that there’s leafy growth nearby that will eventually fill in and help disguise the major cut.

euon.manh_prune3Like with most shrub pruning, make sure the plant shape is getting wider towards the base, i.e. don’t go in at the bottom and make it look like a ball.  There are still a few cuts remaining, but you can already see a difference.  If you look at the before pic above you’ll notice that most of the pruning occurred in the upper portion of the plant.  I did proportionately less cutting as I came down the sides towards the ground.  To avoid creating “indescribable shapes” and hearing wise-crack remarks from neighbors, stand back occasionally and check it out as you go.  I always say “picture an imaginary line as to how the shape should look (think “mounded” and wider at the base) and try to follow it”.

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    54 Responses to “Manhattan Euonymus – Prune Selectively”

    1. Roger Says:

      Karen,
      If the Euonymus is 10′ away from the septic tank, it’s unlikely its roots (if they’re even near the tank) are hindering them from digging and doing whatever they have to do.

      I’ve never had a problem with Euonymus Manhattan’s roots competing with another plant such that it was a problem.

    2. Karen Says:

      THANK YOU! I thought they were full of malarkey. And thank you for having this forum. I have learned a lot from perusing the others questions and your responses. Now if I could just learn to consistently spell Euonymus correctly, life will be good. Have a wonderful weekend. Karen

    3. Rhonda Says:

      We had three, ten year-old Manhattan Euonymus bushes in our yard. This spring the leaves are brown and crisp and new leaves have not appeared on two of the plants while the third has sprouted a few new leaves. Surrounding plants are fine. I am wondering if the uncharacteristic cold snap we experienced here in Denver in early November 2014 could be the cause. We like the evergreen nature of the Manhattan Euonymus and will likely replace them, but am curious to know what may have caused the problem with the three we had.

      Thank you.

    4. Roger Says:

      Rhonda,
      You’re probably correct assuming the unusual cold in November “played a part” in your plant loss.

      Here in the northeast we had extremely cold weather this past winter. Combined with winter-sun on plants facing south and southwest, and northern facing plants battling dessicating winds, winter damage has been severe.

      All our Euonymus Manhattan were damaged, along with many other broadleaf evergreens. Some are slowly recovering, while others are being removed and replaced.

      At this point (mid-May) it should be pretty evident what’s recovering and what’s dead. On your recovering plant, you can start to prune out deadwood.

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