How To Prune a Dogwood Bush


Dogwood is a genus of flowering shrubs and trees known by the botanical appellation, Cornus. Dogwood trees neither require nor desire frequent pruning, but the shrub versions of the species can tolerate even heavy pruning to encourage bushier growth and fullness. According to Purdue University, shrub or bush-form dogwoods can be pruned either in the early spring before new growth appears or in the summer following the bloom period.

Step 1

Remove any dead, diseased, abrading or dragging branches from the shrub in the early spring, before new growth appears. Removing damage sustained during the winter months can prevent disease and structural problems from developing.

Step 2

Reduce the size and spread of your dogwood bush by trimming the branches down to the desired length. Place each cut on the bias just 1/8 to 1/4-inch above a leaf node or bud to encourage new branching and fullness.

Step 3

Rejuvenate overgrown, misshapen or sparse and scraggly dogwood shrubs by cutting back one-third of the oldest stems severely in the early spring while still dormant. Cut each stem down to the crown of the plant, at the soil line, and discard. Distribute the pruning cuts throughout the shrub so you have a well balanced and roughly symmetrical internal branch architecture when finished.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Loppers


  • North Dakota State University: Questions on Dogwood
  • Purdue University: Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: pruning dogwood bushes, pruning cornus species, trimming dogwood shrubs

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.