The Q&A Archives: Max Height of Dogwoods & Basic Care

Question: I think there are only a few varities of the red-stem Variegated Dogwood. The info I am getting from my local nurseries is conflicting with respect to both the types of Variegated Dogwood and their max height. I observed on the Monrovia site that there are 2 varities, one of which can grow 6-8 feet high (Cornus Alba /'Elegatissima')and the other can grow from 5-6 feet high (Ivory Halo). Can you give me the straight facts ? Much appreciated because I will be planting them along with a variety of plain Dogwood that can grow 8+ feet high. I am trying to create a hedge. It doesn't need to be 8 feet high but I want a nice full, wide hedge that is a solid 6 feet high at minimum. I live on a golf course and want to discourage drifters into our yard looking for stray golf balls and achieve some general privacy. It is definitely a spot of high moisture which dogwoods prefer. I also want any advice on how to accelerate the growth of dogwoods, including feeding and pruning. THANKS ! -Charlie Olson

Answer: Plant sizes are usually expressed as a range because actual mature size will depend on the growing/cultural conditions. Pruning can also have an effect on both density and height. These shrubs are very dense if left unpruned. Most people prune them regularly to enhance the red stem color which is brightest on new growth -- they will prune out a third of the oldest stems each year by cutting them at ground level, or they will renewal prune the entire shrub every few years by cutting it to the ground. If you don't do this type of hard pruning, they will grow to their largest size. The shrub dogwoods will also grow largest in rich, damp soil and full sun; however the variegated forms in my experience tend to be a bit less vigorous than the species and other green leafed forms. Ivory Halo was selected because of its variegation and also particularly for its compact form. Of the two, it is the smaller. Many modern yards have limited space so this is often a desired quality. In your case, you may want to use the larger form. Good luck with your hedge!

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