4' Red twig dogwood?

Asked August 28, 2017, 8:52 PM EDT

Hi, I live in Lake Oswego Oregon. I would love to add a few red twig dogwood plants but, I read that they get 10-12' high. I also read that the bark is best at the younger stage of their life & so heavy pruning is recommended. That said, could I prune them to stay at around 4' and not impair their health?

Clackamas County Oregon

1 Response

Thank you for your question about the red twig dogwood plants. The information about these trees that you have is somewhat of a mixed bag. Some do get to 10-12' but 'normal' is closer to 8'. When selecting plants, the general 'byword' is "the right plant in the wrong place is the wrong plant." Translated, as this extensive pruning article indicates:

"It is always best to select the right tree for the site, rather than try to work against nature. However, these techniques will help to retard the growth of a tree: 1. Reduce dormant pruning; prune more in June/July. (Winter pruning invigorates a tree; summer pruning decreases vigor and size.) 2. Give no or less nitrogen. Give less water. 3. Hand pull the water suckers in May/June, when they are 2-4 inches long and flexible; this makes it less likely they will regrow. (Pruning suckers in the winter insures they will regrow in the spring.) Leave a sucker on top of the tree to dominate, called apical dominance. "

The specific pruning information on this cane growing plant is on pages 12 and 13) and how to keep it vibrant (and smaller). As you can see, you cut it to the ground, as this Extension article also recommends, which is why the canes' bark is so stunning. Pruning only to 4' will not allow the regeneration of the red bark.

Hope these are helpful resources for you. Good luck!