The Q&A Archives: Shaping Variegated Red Twig Dogwood

Question: I have recently planted two variegated red twig dogwood shrubs. I would like to keep them shaped in a nice round shape. Is this possible or should I prune them in another way. I would like to keep them round to give them a neat appearance.

Answer: These plants are traditionally pruned off very short in late winter, very early spring. This annual regime keeps the size somewhat under control and also causes the twigs to sprout from the base resulting in a more intensely red color which is a decorative feature in the winter time. If you would prefer to see a denser rounder form in the summer, then prune as needed to maintain that; each time you prune the shrub will develop additional branches and grow denser from that point out, so a frequent pruning beginning when the plant is still rather short will give the best results. Every few years, however, you will need to prune the plant off very short to help keep it vigorous.

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