Clip redtwig now for decorative branch, possibility of stubs
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We cut redtwig- and yellowtwig dogwood canes as low as we can, so the new growth comes from way down and we avoid a stub-build up over years. (Arrow; wood going gray, developing bark.) Cut them off annually at ground level.
Can I prune red twig dogwood now? I'd like to if it won't hurt
the plants. - J. -
You can. We do -- especially if we need the branches for
If they're growing wild or planted in the kind of always-moist
place where they're native, the wet soil may have retained enough
heat that the plant's stem bases are not yet hardened off. If you
cut a woody plant when it is not hardened off, it's likely to die
back beyond your cut, so you'll find a dieback stub next spring,
with new growth coming from lower down. That stub can clutter the
look and get in the way of your next pruning, plus it's a weak
point where stem canker fungus can get started, weakening the new
You can't tell by looking if a plant has hardened off, but if
the ground is still quite soft, it's a possibility winter has not
wrapped its arms around that shrub yet.
If there's hard pruning on the docket, involving severe cuts, we
usually schedule it in January and February thaws, when we know
that all the hardy plants are at their hardiest. Or we wait until
very late winter or the first days of spring.
Here's a redtwig dogwood (Cornus
stolonifera'Cardinal', left) and a yellowtwig (C.
s.'Flaviramea') on the right. We're pruning them to take out
the oldest wood so there will be lots of the newest, most brightly
colored canes again this year.
We generally do this cutting in late winter or very early