The Q&A Archives: Pruning Red Twig Dogwood

Question: The weather has been unseasonally warm...Normally I do pruning in late March to early April. Re: Red twig dogwood...I understand you cut it close to the ground in late winter...Mine has started putting buds on it...Should I still cut it to the ground and if so, when?

Answer: The red twigged shrub dogwood would be pruned primarily to force new growth from the base, the new growth tips being desirable because of their enhanced red coloring. It can also be done to try to control overall size, since these can grow rather large over time. If you are happy with the looks and size of your shrub you are not required to prune it. If you want to promote twiggy new growth, enhance coloring or control size, the optimum time to cut the plant back hard meaning close to the ground, would be late winter or early spring, preferably while the plant is still dormant. If the buds have begun to swell, you can still do it but do not delay much longer if at all possible. Pruning later probably would not kill the plant but it is less desirable.

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