Drooping red twig dogwood

Asked May 22, 2020, 8:49 AM EDT

I have a red twig dogwood that I kept surrounded by deer fencing for the first two years. Now it's about 7 feet tall, the deer fencing is gone, and it flops over every time it rains. What would be the best time and way to prune it into a more sturdy shape ?

Baltimore County Maryland

1 Response

Normally, left to grow naturally, this shrub does not flop, although many plants with a new flush of lush spring branches and foliage will flop a bit temporarily under the added weight of rain. That could be the explanation. If so, the flopping will stop as the new growth hardens up.

Be sure not to fertilize. This encourages growth that is too fast and can be weak.

Being fenced could also have led to main woody shoots that have not had a change to harden, which also happens to trees that are staked too tightly or for too long. Woody plant trunks and shoots must grow supporting themselves or be staked temporarily, yet with room to move, in order to become strong. (Somewhat like we must use bones and muscles for them to maintain strength.)
If this is the case, the strength to support itself better will develop by the end of this growing season.

Here's some info about staking: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/planting-tree-or-shrub

Ellen