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How to prune red twig dogwood

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From: Diane Rose
City:
Newton, MA
I have a row of 10 red twig dogwood bushes that were planted in 2007-8. They were planted by novices in a rush to have a 'thicket'... they are planted too closely together. The growth pattern is odd... with the center branches being very tiny and the outer branches being thick and long and healthy. I was timid in my pruning last year, because I didn't know what I was doing, and I feared it wouldn't grow back as fast and thick as it did. My questions: -now is the time to prune, right? it's just starting baby leaves popping out. - Is there a way to prune that encourages the tiny inner growth? (or is that unavoidable with too-close plantings?) - How exactly should I prune it? (One book from the UK says to prune nearly to the ground...)

Sadly, digging them up and replanting further apart isn't really an option. (I'm disabled and used a huge favor to get neighbors to plant them...)

I have photos of what the plants look like if that would be helpful.

Thanks so much for your advice! Diane

 
Extension Message
From: Greg Stack
Extension Horticulturist
Office of Web Development
gstack@illinois.edu
Hi,

Red twig dogwood is easy to manage and keep looking good with occasional pruning by a technique called renewal pruning. this means that these shrubs will maintain their appearance and health if about one-third of the very oldest stems are removed to the ground annually. This allows new stems to grow back in and retain good color. As the stems age they turn dark in color and decline. Also shearing them like a hedge just results in poor growth and color. Close planting can account for the thin stems but if you thin them out properly and perhaps fertilize in the spring to encourage new growth, that might be minimized. I would not prune the whole plant to the ground only the very oldest stems.

 
From: Diane Rose
City:
Newton, MA
I didn't manage to prune the red-twig dogwood yet this year. Now that the leaves are fully out, is it too late to prune?

 
Extension Message
From: Greg Stack
Extension Horticulturist
Office of Web Development
gstack@illinois.edu
Hi,

If you need to do pruning on the red twig dogwood you can still do pruning to help reduce the height or to thin out older stems. If the stems are showing black coloration and loosing the bright red color these stems should be removed at soil line to all the shrub to produce new stems with good color.

 
From: Jean Shriber
City:
Mount prospect , IL
I have two red twig/ isanti dogwoods that are very floppy. Is that typical or do they need pruning?

 
Extension Message
From: Greg Stack
Extension Horticulturist
Office of Web Development
gstack@illinois.edu
Hi, Most red twigged dogwood including Isanti tend to grow in a mound habit but because Isanti tends to have finer twigs it may tend to bend a bit more but it should not be and excessive amount. I am guessing that the plant is growing in a full sun location. If it is shaded it may cause the twigs to be weaker resulting in a plant that tends to flop more. Not seeing it I can't comment on the need for pruning.

 
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