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The dogwood (Cornus) family includes many species and cultivars. Some enchant with a lush bloom, others set special accents in the garden with their colorful branches. As a rule, all types are very easy to care for and also tolerate pruning well. However, it should always be noted that each species must be treated differently when pruning. Below are some tips on how to do this.


This is the best time to prune most species of dogwood spring from the end of February to the end of May, but if possible already in March. It should be noted that the day is always Frost free is. Here, too, there are differences between the individual species, which should be noted:

Non-ferrous dogwood

  • Cornus alba, Cornus sericea, Cornus sanguinea
  • hard pruning at the end of February / beginning of March to preserve the color intensity
  • to maintain the abundance of flowers after flowering until mid-July

Flower Dogwood

  • Cornus controversa, Cornus florida, Cornus kousa
  • Cut not absolutely necessary
  • if necessary, thinning February/ March before new shoots
Flowering Dogwood - Cornus florida


  • Cornus mas
  • Pruning for training and thinning out in late winter February to March

Carpet Dogwood

  • normally no pruning necessary, but if necessary in February

tip: Cut shoots, especially from the colored wood dogwood, can be used to obtain cuttings. To do this, cut sticks 20 cm long with a pair of buds. Two-thirds of these are planted in humus-rich, loose soil.

Correct cutting tool

As the name suggests, the wood of these plants is relatively hard and durable. Pruning older shrubs usually requires a lot of effort. It is therefore advisable to use appropriate cutting tools.

  • Secateurs for one to two year old shoots
  • for thinning out older ground shoots with a diameter of up to 35 mm Two-hand shears or pruning shears
  • recommended tools with bypass or anvil mechanics for optimal power transmission
  • Folding saw for branches with a diameter of more than 35 mm

tip: All cutting tools must be clean, disinfected (alcohol) and sharp to avoid injury to the shoots.

Cutting dogwood: instructions

Most dogwoods are usually quite pruning tolerant. However, there are also species here that do not require pruning due to their special growth form, such as the tiered dogwood. Some cuts can promote flowering, others the formation of new shoots. With every pruning, the right cutting technique determines the success of this measure. The following should always be taken into account:

  • choose the best time
  • no cutting in frost or strong sun
  • always cut above the first branch for dense growth
  • Remove crossing and inward growing shoots
  • remove dead wood all year round
  • shorten young plants by a maximum of one third
  • Use of sharp and clean tools
  • clean cut
  • Avoid frayed cuts, bruised shoots, branch stumps
  • Intersection above an outward-facing pair of buds
  • Tool held at a slight angle, always turned away from opposite pair of buds
  • The cutting blade of the tool must rest on part of the stationary shoot

However, the pruning of the dogwood always depends on the species and its individual growth characteristics. Therefore, a colored wood dogwood is always pruned differently than a lush flowering flower dogwood.

Variegated dogwood

The intensively light red, brown-red, yellow or light green colored twigs of the variegated dogwood buried after three years at the latest. They then lose their strong color intensity. Only one helps to preserve the coloring continuous pruning. However, this is then at the expense of flower buds that have already been created.

  • Late February to early March
  • on frost-free days
  • Leave young shoots
  • Cut off a third of all old shoots, also inside the bush
  • repeat cut in the following year
  • then thin out older shoots every year
  • alternatively, plant the shrub every three years
  • Regularly remove deadwood close to the ground, do not leave any shoot stubs

tip: Putting it "on stick" is nothing more than a radical pruning to rejuvenate the wood. To do this, all shoots 20 to 30 cm above the ground are shortened in spring. Sleeping eyes on the rhizome trigger renewed growth.

However, if more value is placed on a lush abundance of flowers, then a pruning must take place after flowering. This gives the shrub enough time in autumn to create new flower buds for the following year.

  • Pruning possible until the end of July
  • but then only thin out from time to time
  • Cut only when overhanging shoots touch the ground
  • Cut back these shoots except for a side shoot at the apex of the arch
  • Remove deadwood in late winter

Flower Dogwood

This species of dogwood doesn't necessarily need an annual pruning. They are also such an ornament in the garden. The plants only become old when they are old or when the soil and site conditions do not tell them. Flower dogwoods do not tolerate a radical pruning when they are old. Only then should light Maintenance and thinning cuts are made. They grow as large shrubs or small trees. The flower buds are established in the autumn of the previous year, so pruning before they sprout in spring is not recommended.

  • from the 10th year maintenance and clearing cut necessary
  • immediately after flowering until mid-July
  • Completely remove damaged and dry branches
  • also cut off crossing shoots that are too close together
  • Cut branches that are too long by half
  • Carry out cutting measures over several stages
  • starting with small pruning measures in the outer bush area
  • inward from year to year
  • from the 10th year, remove dead shoots on the ground every 3 to 4 years in late winter

tip: Only the "Venus" variety tolerates a more radical pruning, as it branches quite unwillingly. All shoots are cut back by a third after flowering in June. However, this measure is only necessary for young shrubs.


This native tree grows quite slowly. The first tasty fruits appear after 8 to 10 years. The cost of cutting work is relatively low here. In the first few years a education cut respectively. This then determines the growth form. There are two different options:

  • Shrub training: in late winter, remove all shoots except 3 to 5 strong bottom shoots
  • in the following year, shorten these skeletal shoots by a third before they sprout
  • remove all competitive shoots close to the ground

Education to the half tribe

  • in late winter after planting, remove all other shoots apart from a strong central shoot (trunk) and 3 to 4 stable leading shoots
  • in the following year, shorten all leading shoots by a third before they sprout
  • form a crown from it in the following years
  • remove all competitive shoots close to the ground

After the first harvest, pruning care is limited to minimal work:

  • If necessary, shorten longer shoots after flowering
  • Thin out old shrubs/trees in late winter

tip: The bark of the red dogwood, as well as the leaves and roots contain the slightly poisonous cornin. In addition, touching the leaves of the cornel can lead to skin irritation.

Carpet Dogwood

This dogwood is a very popular groundcover. It is often used under rhododendrons. In winter, the carpet dogwood is dormant. He pulls in his leaves and shoots. From mid-May, the new budding begins. The annual increase is only 5 to 10 cm. Usually here is no pruning necessary. Only if the withered branches disturb you in winter can they be cut back.

tip: In the case of a radical cut of ornamental trees, the regulations of the Federal Nature Conservation Act (BNatSchG) apply, the pruning must be completed by March 1st. Between March 1st and September 30th, only light pruning measures that do not affect wildlife are permitted.

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