How to Hard Prune Dogwood for its Winter Display
Dogwood is a very easy ornamental shrub to grow. It has brightly coloured young bark that looks great in winter when all the leaves have fallen.
You can just use single plants here and there, or make a lovely dogwood feature by planting a big clump of them.
All you have to do to keep your plants producing lots of new stems with their rich colours is to hard prune them - or coppice - them every year from the end of their first year.
- After planting, leave them be and let them establish for a summer.
- After that, hard prune them every March.
- Cut all the stems down to about 6 inches above ground level, just after where the plant begins to branch out at the base.
Unless your soil is very wet, it is a good idea to mulch around your plants after pruning: this will trap moisture and keep down the weeds that will try to take advantage of the extra sunlight.
You can also try these ideas:
- Cut back the dogwood every other year.
- Cut back most, not all of the stems each year.
This will reduce the ornamental effect, but it will also increase the wildlife value of the bushes. Dogwood only flowers on wood that is a year old - the flowers aren't very special to look at, but the bees will be happy.
If you are planting dogwood as part of a mixed country hedge, then cut it back by about half right after planting along with all the other plants.
Browse all of our dogwood shrubs & trees here.
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