The Q&A Archives: pruning a yellow deciduous dogwood

Question: We bought a flowering deciduous yellow magnolia thinking it was a shrub or small tree. Turns out it rapidly grows to 40 feet high and 25 feet wide. What if we want to keep it smaller? Can we prune it and keep it around 15 feet? Thanks. Diane Kramer

Answer: You could try, but usually this type of pruning is a losing battle over time. I would suggest you work with a professionally trained and certified arborist who has experience with ornamental trees on an annual basis to try to keep it in the size range you want. You will need to begin training it while it is young to avoid a very unnatural and unattractive branching pattern later on.

This type of tree usually needs little pruning so the regular cutting will be stressful on it; the repeated open wounds or cuts will also open the tree to infection by pests and diseases. Overall, it might be better to plant something else that would mature to the size you have space for. (There are some smaller deciduous magnolias.) I'm sorry I can't be more encouraging.

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