How should I prune a Japanese pagoda dogwood?

Asked April 29, 2018, 9:35 PM EDT

Our older Japanese pagoda has been slowly dying off branches. We let new younger shoots grow around it that will take over. The older tree still has 2 large trunks that are 4 inches in diameter. They can be seen in the photo. My question is if we cut off one of the trunks will it be more susceptible to disease since it would have a large wound? Should we cut it off at the base where the 2 trunks meet or down to the next branch that shows life.which would be in the middle. Or should we just cut down both older trunks and let the younger trees develop?

Hennepin County Minnesota pruning pagoda dogwood horticulture

5 Responses

The two main trunks appear to have large cankers and probably will die out. The branches can be left until they look worse or if they look orange in color. The orange color is from a common disease of Pagoda dogwood called Golden canker.
Dogwoods tolerate a great deal of pruning. I think they are best kept as multistemmed trees so if a trunk or stem dies there are one or two left.

I would like to cut down the 2 larger infected trunks while the newer trunks are still thin enough that they would not get damaged during the sawing. Does it matter how far down those trunks will be cut?

Wait to cut off the trunk until the tree has fully leafed out and then cut the truck off close to the ground without wounding the trunk you want to keep. Make an undercut and then a top cut to take down the trunk.

The leaves are out, although some are smaller. What do you mean by the 2 cuts?

Hello, the master gardener you've been working with is away. The two cuts Claire suggested keep your tree from "tearing" when you prune it. You want to make an initial "undercut" a few feet up from the base of the tree, only go about a 3rd of the way though, then the "top" all the way through and then you can make your final cut at the base. Claire is essentially advising that you trim the two main trunks as if they were large branches. This will reduce damage to the parts of the tree you would like to keep.