How to Prune a Red Dogwood


Red Dogwood (Cornus sp.), hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8, grows 20 to 35 feet tall, and you may choose to train it to grow with one central trunk or allow it to grow into several trunks. You won't need to worry about pruning this tree often because its pruning needs are minimal. Prune red dogwoods primarily for aesthetic reasons and to prevent spreading disease when it is present.

Step 1

Prune shrubby dogwoods with colorful bark such as red osier dogwood down to the ground every three to four years to encourage new colorful growth. Clip off branches with a pair of clean, sharp lopper shears until you have removed every branch.

Step 2

Prune dead branches on dogwoods whenever you spot them. Clip the dead branch from the tree at its base.

Step 3

Prune crowded and low-hanging branches as necessary. Clip crowded branches at their base where they connect with a larger branch. Complete these pruning tasks in late winter or early spring before the new growth emerges.

Tips and Warnings

  • Prune carefully, avoiding injuring the trunk bark because it is thin and can become an entry point for borer larvae.

Things You'll Need

  • Lopper shearsrnPruning shears


  • The United States National Arboretum: Dogwood Questions and Answers
  • North Carolina State University Extension: Pruning Shrubs
  • Frederick County Master Gardener Program: When and How to Prune Trees and Shrubs
  • South Dakota State University Extension: Pruning Deciduous Shrubs
  • University of Florida Extension: Cornus florida 'Sweetwater Red': 'Sweetwater Red' Flowering Dogwood

Who Can Help

  • American Beauties: Cornus sericea 'Cardinal'
Keywords: prune red dogwood, pruning dogwoods, growing red dogwoods

About this Author

Sommer Sharon has a bachelor's degree in IT/Web management from the University of Phoenix and owns a Web consulting business. With more than 12 years of experience in the publishing industry, her work has included "Better Homes and Gardens," "Ladies' Home Journal," "MORE," "Country Home," "Midwest Living," and "American Baby." Sharon now contributes her editorial background by writing for several Internet publications.