How to Prune a Dogwood Bush

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

This article will teach you how to prune a dogwood bush. You will need a pair of pruning shears, a saw, and a ladder.

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Pruning Basics

Pruning is an important part of keeping your dogwood bush healthy and attractive. It may seem daunting, but with a little bit of knowledge, pruning your dogwood bush is a relatively easy task. This article will provide you with a brief overview of the basics of pruning a dogwood bush.

Why prune a dogwood bush

There are many reasons for pruning a dogwood bush. The most common reason is to shape the bush. Pruning also encourages fruit production, allows for better air circulation and makes it possible to achieve a desired height.

When to prune a dogwood bush

One of the most common questions related to pruning is “when should I prune my plants?” The answer, unfortunately, is not always straightforward as it depends on the plant in question.

Dogwoods (Cornus spp.) are shrubs or small trees that are popular for their showy flowers, which appear in spring before the leaves. They are generally low-maintenance plants, but may require occasional pruning to remove diseased, damaged or straggly growth. When deciding when to prune your dogwood bush, it is important to know that there are two types of dogwoods – those that flower on old wood and those that flower on new wood.

Flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida), the state flower of North Carolina, Virginia and Missouri, produce their flowers on old wood. This means that you should only prune your bush after the flowers have bloomed in spring. If you prune too early, you will cut off the flower buds and won’t have any blooms.

Other dogwoods, such as Chinese dogwood (Cornus kousa) and Japanese dogwood (Cornus kousa), produce their flowers on new wood. This means you can prune your bush in late winter or early spring without sacrificing the flowers.

In general, it is best to err on the side of caution and wait until after flowering to prune your shrub if you are not sure which type of dogwood you have.


You will need a pair of pruning shears for this task. Pruning shears are small, hand-held scissors that are specifically designed for cutting small branches. You will also need a sharp pair of gardening gloves to protect your hands while you work.

What type of pruning shears to use

There are two types of pruning shears: anvil and bypass. Anvil shears have one sharpened blade that cuts against a flat surface on the body of the tool, like a hammer hitting an anvil. This type of shear is best for dead or thick branches. Bypass shears have two blades that slide past each other, like a pair of scissors. This type is best for live branches and thin material.

How to sharpen pruning shears

Pruning shears are one of the most important tools in a gardener’s arsenal, and keeping them sharp is crucial to maintaining healthy plants. You can sharpen pruning shears with a file, but for best results, take them to a professional gardener or lawn care specialist.

If you do choose to sharpen your own pruning shears, start by cleaning the blades with soap and water. Then, use a medium-grit file to remove any nicks or burrs from the blades. Next, switch to a fine-grit file and run it along the length of the blades in one smooth motion. Finally, wipe the blades clean and apply a light coat of oil to protect them from rust.

The Pruning Process

The best time to prune a dogwood bush is in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. You’ll want to start by removing any dead, diseased, or damaged branches. Next, cut back any branches that are crossing or rubbing against each other. Finally, cut back any branches that are growing in an undesirable direction.

Step-by-step guide to pruning a dogwood bush

Pruning is a vital part of keeping your dogwood bush healthy and vibrant. By pruning away dead and diseased branches, you allow more sunlight and air to reach the inner parts of the bush, promoting better growth. Pruning also encourages the dogwood bush to produce more flowers.

Here is a step-by-step guide to pruning a dogwood bush:

1. Start by removing any dead or diseased branches from the bush. These branches will be dry and brittle, and they may have discolored leaves or few leaves remaining.

2. Next, prune away any crossing or rubbing branches. These branches can damage the bark of the dogwood bush, causing disease or injury.

3. Once you have removed all of the dead, diseased, and crossing branches, you can begin shaping the bush.Start by pruning away any branch that is growing towards the center of the bush; you want light and air to be able to reach all parts of the plant.

4. You can also prune away any branch that is longer than 3 feet; these branches will be too heavy for the plant to support and will likely break in windy weather.

5. When you are finished pruning, take a step back and take a look at your work. You want the dogwood bush to have an open center with evenly-sized branching radiating out from it; avoid over-pruning one side or creating a “lollipop” shape with only a few main branches remaining.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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