problems with red twigged dogwood shrub

Asked May 12, 2018, 9:23 AM EDT

Some of the twigs are budding out and some aren't. Can I prune out the branches that aren't developing leaves or is it to late?

Sherburne County Minnesota

3 Responses

Thank you for the question. Dogwood should be pruned in late winter to early spring which means it's a bit late now. Pruning now increases the chance of disease or insect problems. However, it's OK to prune out dead, diseased, or broken branches anytime of the year. You might want to wait another week or two to give your shrub time to bud out before assuming sections are dead-winter held on very late this year. Please read about proper pruning of trees and shrubs here:
You may also enjoy this publication on red twigged dogwoods from Virginia Tech:

Thank you for contacting Extension.

I go to Florida in the winter, leave around mid Nov and come back mid April so miss the late winter time, which would probably be late March I'm guessing. What would you suggest I do considering the time frame I have?

I would still wait a bit and see if the dogwood is going to fill out. If it doesn't, remember, it is OK to prune out any branches that turn out to be dead, diseased, or broken at anytime. If there are no problems and you just want to prune a bit each year for form and size, you could prune as soon as you get back mid April because you have no other choice and there is no exact cutoff date. There is a method of pruning called renewal pruning which consists of cutting the oldest, grayest, branches down to the ground each year, never removing more than 1/3 of the stems. In this manner, the entire shrub is "renewed" every 3 years and there is less stress for the plant due to the gradual process. This method is discussed in the U of M publication I linked in the first response to your message. I hope this helps!