Manhattan Euonymus – Prune Selectively

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

63 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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    63 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.

    5. sheryl Says:

      I just bought 6 gallon e.m’s.and want to put them in front of a 27′ deck,however,at one end,i have a small concrete fish pond.will the roots invade that and break thru the concrete? (the closest one will probably be withing 3-4 ft of the pond)thanks.

    6. Roger Says:

      Sheryl,
      Not likely. Euonymus have fibrous root systems.

      I would be more concerned about the future top-growth of the euonymus and its mature size. Yes, you can keep it pruned, but don’t underestimate how wide that plant wants to get. And they are vigorous growers.

      If you can, think about moving that last one further away from the pond. You can always fill-in the gap with herbaceous plants like perennials or ground-covers. As the euonymus grows you can easily pop-out the herbaceous plants. This is a trick/technique I use all the time.

    7. richard Says:

      I am considering planning some Manahattan’s along a shaded fence line in my back yard. The height seems perfect for what I have in mind but I am concerned with the possible width of this plant. The planning/growth area is probably no more that 5 feet wide. Is this too narrow for a Manhattan? If so, what would be a suitable replacement?

    8. Marilily Says:

      Hello,
      I have discovered that if you cut off a 8-10″ stem of new growth in early June, strip off the bottom 4″ of leaves, dip them in root powder, plant a group of 6 in 4″ ish starter pot with potting soil and keep watered in mostly shade area – – you will have a new bush by the end of summer! I made 18 this year as I am expanding a “green fence” on both sides of my yard. I plant them 4 ‘ apart. Keep watered well the first year. They keep most of their leaves in the winter too! I love this bush!!

    9. Roger Says:

      Richard,
      Overtime it will become difficult to keep Manhattan Euonymus within a 5′ space.

      Another plant to consider in this situation is Japanese Andromeda (Pieris japonica). It has a more upright growth habit. And although is can potentially get wider than 5′, the upright habit will help (and work with you) to keep it in-check. Of course proper pruning is always a key part to guiding a plant within a certain space.

    10. Roger Says:

      Marilily,
      That’s fantastic! You’ve got a great propagation process going there.
      Thanks for sharing it.

    11. sheryl Says:

      thanks for the info!

    12. Holly Says:

      Hi! I live in SC and have 30 year old 8-10ft tall boxwoods against the front left side of my home. I’ve considered pulling these up and replacing with something new but they cover up most of the large brick wall, which is great. I’ve purchase 3 Manhataan Euonymus to plant in front of these box woods to give a tiered look. I’m hoping this wth give the look I’m looking for. Any suggestions or tips would be appreciated!

    13. Roger Says:

      Holly,
      Having large boxwood means you’re no stranger to the growth potential of plants. I say this because you’ll need the same appreciation for the euonymus. They can get 8′ high and 12′ wide.

      So space them appropriately if you have the space and are able to. And if you’re intention is keep them smaller (as foreground plants) realize you’ll be pruning them regularly. Which is fine if you have the time and desire.

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