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Pruning thuja: That’s why the thuja hedge and conifers in the tub need a topiary in the spring

For a long time, the thuja hedge was considered an inexpensive alternative to boxwood. In the 80s, it slowly fell into oblivion and was increasingly replaced by exotics such as bamboo. Nowadays, the tree of life is making a comeback in the home garden. With a good reason, because the plant is frost-hardy, strong-growing and opaque. However, in order for the thuja hedge to keep its shape, pruning in the spring is an absolute must. We explain how to prune Thuja and what to consider when doing so.

Thuja pruning: Why is pruning necessary in the spring?

Thuja cutting with useful tips for amateur gardeners

The tree of life is a strong-growing hedge plant . However, in order for the hedge to keep its shape, the thuja plants should grow close together and, above all, compact. Pruning in the spring is therefore essential. Also because the trees of life can not tolerate a strong pruning and recover very slowly, often not at all. Pruning your hedge in spring and fall ensures that the thuja plants do not become woody. Pruning back to the old wood means that the hedge will remain bare.

Prune thuja hedge in spring: The basic rules

Hedge trimming in spring tips

So, it is definitely worth cutting the hedge in spring, right after the end of winter dormancy. To do this, proceed as follows:

  • Use sharp pruning shears to cut smaller branches and pruners for large old shoots. You can also use power shears for tall hedges.
  • Disinfect tools with methylated spirits before and after each use.

Thuja cutting when in spring useful tips

  • By law, heavy pruning is allowed until the end of February. However, since this does not promote the growth of the thuja plant, it is not recommended. If the hedge is severely frostbitten or attacked by pests, then it can be removed completely.
  • From March onwards, a maintenance pruning is possible. This means that you may only cut off individual branches and parts of the plant. However, check the hedge plants for birds and their nests before you start cutting.
  • Avoid cutting the hedge plant on sunny days. Direct sunlight can burn the cuttings. As a result, the shoots will turn yellow.
  • Do not cut the hedge when the thuja leaves are wet. The moisture favors fungal diseases.

Pruning the hedge plant Thuja: Instructions for a caring pruning in the spring

Thuja cutting how to shape in spring


1. first check the hedge for diseases and pests. Yellowed or brown shoots are a sign of disease or frost damage. Shorten the shoots down to the green wood.

2. also check whether there are dead parts of the plant. These should definitely be removed. It is best to cut them off close to the ground.

3. shoots that cross or rub against each other should also be cut off. The areas where the branches rub are susceptible to disease and pests.

4. In some cases, the crown must be thinned out. This involves removing the shoots that do not get sun. This allows the plant to dry faster and is less susceptible to fungal diseases.

Thuja hedge trimming with pruning shears tips

5. at the bottom, the plant is cut so that the amateur gardener has easy access to the root zone.

6. thuja hedge you can cut up to three times a year. Pruning in the spring promotes growth, the plant sprouts vigorously. The process slows down at the beginning of summer. A nurturing pruning in mid-June can again promote growth. However, extra care should be taken to remove only diseased and woody shoots.

7. If empty spots appear in the hedge over time, you can guide the new shoots into the gap and tie them together.

Thuja care in the tub: This is what you should pay attention to when pruning conifers.

Cutting conifers in tubs useful tips


Thuja plants in tubs usually do not require pruning. However, in order for their crown to retain its beautiful spherical shape, topiary is necessary. Spring is the perfect time to do this. When doing so, you should follow a few basic rules.

  • Never cut the shoots into the old wood. These branches will not grow back.
  • Pruning is out of the question. The plant will not be able to recover.

Thuja pruned: What can be done?

Thuja cutting in tub in shape

When pruning the thuja hedge, extra care should be taken not to prune the hedge. If you cut too deep to the old wood, you can expect serious consequences. This is because the tree of life is slow to recover from a deep cut. Depending on whether it is the whole hedge or individual plants, the following measures can have a success:

  • Fertilize the hedge regularly . Also use foliar fertilizer for thuja plants.
  • Water the conifers regularly during drought.
  • If you have shortened the lateral shoots, you should carefully then also cut off the top. Thus, the plant will no longer grow strongly upwards, but will form new leaves and shoots on the sides.