The Q&A Archives: Pruning Ivory Halo Dogwoods

Question: I did not prune my 12 ivory halo dogwoods during the summer. They grew well and are reaching the maximum size I want them to be, because of their location. Now I am wondering if I prune them back heavily at this point if I will be cutting off buds for next season's growth. Last year I believe I did the pruning in mid-August as the foliage had gotten ratty-looking, and this spring they came back beautifully. But this summer, the foliage held up great and I am hoping I haven't waited too long. Can I still cut them back, and is it safe for me to cut them back to about a 2 foot height as I did last year? (They are currently about 4 feet high.) Or is that too aggressive?

Answer: These shrubs can be cut back very short (6 to 12 inches)  in late winter or very early spring. This will encourage the growth of new shoots each year and help control the overall size. However, it will leave ugly stubs until the new growth appears over the spring and summer and the leaves hide them. Alternatively they can be thinned annually by removing a portion, say a quarter, of the branches or stems by cutting them off at the base. Do keep in mind that their normal size is a bit larger than the four foot height you are looking for so it may be difficult to keep them that small over time.

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